5 Things To Leave Off Your Resume

These days, with the economy still barely holding on by the thinnest of threads, resumes are flying around more than the ungodly mosquitoes that seem to have woken up for the summer.

With so many people trying to find meaningful employment, it doesn’t take much to drop to the bottom of the stack.

Take it from someone who once had to go through a ton of resumes on a regular basis: you’re putting too much on yours. If you aren’t, you’re one of the few.

Allow me to share some insight to help you in your pursuit of a job. Ever heard of File 13? That’s likely where your resume will end up if you have these 5 things on it when you submit it to that potential employer. Here are 5 things to leave off your resume:

1. Personal or Private Information

Don’t misunderstand me, of course you need to have your name, address, email, and phone number listed on your resume. However, beyond that you are killing yourself. Most people want to list things that they have seen on applications before, but there are two problems with that. First, a resume isn’t an application, it’s a professional document. Second, you shouldn’t even be filling these parts in on an application.

What am I referring to, you ask? Hobbies. Interests. Clubs. Things that do not relate in the slightest to the job you are applying for. Unless of course you are applying for a position at a hobbies and interests club. I’m kidding, but you get my point, I hope. No one cares about these things in the professional world, trust me. The more unrelated garbage the company’s gatekeeper has to sift through, the quicker your resume will be tossed aside, unless of course they are looking for a good laugh.

And for the love of all that’s holy, please don’t list the phone number at your current job. Enough said.

2. An Objective

Furrow your brow at me all you like, just don’t put it on there.

Your objective is to get a freaking job with the company, and beyond that you will likely write something ridiculous. For example: “To obtain a position in a growing organization which will allow me to fully utilize my skills”. So, let’s break this down. You’re telling me that you want to find a job with a company that isn’t going down the tubes and where you can do something that you are good at. Hmmmm, interesting. I’m sorry, I just had some sarcasm drip down my chin.

Do you see my point here? Apart from the fact that I have an almost visceral hatred for the word “utilized” (mainly because it’s so over utilized – see how I did that?), the entire statement has the depth and thoughtfulness of saying “I want a job with your company, and I have the skills to fill the position you have open”. Let me gently remind you that if this wasn’t the case then you wouldn’t have sent your resume in. Bottom line: no objective, leave it off.

3. Irrelevant Work Experiences

Brevity is the soul of wit, and it’s also the makings of a good resume. In other words, keep it to one page. If you are applying for an Operations Manager position, your previous experience as a line cook 10 years ago is, well, fairly irrelevant. So is that summer job you had stocking groceries on the graveyard shift.

Only list work experience that is very recent or which is directly applicable to the desired position.

I should mention that in some cases, particularly for young people, leaving the line cook job off may leave nothing in the job history slot. In this case only, you should list unrelated jobs in order to show that you have a history of stability and can be relied upon to show up and work hard. You may not quite be Operations Manager material just yet though.

4. Achievements That Aren’t Achievements

If you keep saying the word “professional” over and over to yourself, you’ll automatically realize a few of these things. At least I would hope so. An achievement in the context of a resume really only falls under two categories: professional and community service. Having completed a marathon run isn’t a professional achievement. Having been the vice-president of your high school math club isn’t a professional achievement.

An acceptable achievement would be something like “Raised $10K for the local Boys and Girls Club by initiating a charity event of some sort”, or “Elected to Chamber of Commerce board 3 years in a row”. Got it? Good.

5. Skills That Aren’t Skills

Innovative problem solver? Inspirational motivator? Superior communicator? Sorry, three strikes and you’re out. Although these lines will be found on the vast majority of resumes, they are all completely useless and vain unless they are followed with specific examples of exactly how. Guess what? Even then they aren’t skills. Let me explain.

I am an innovative problem solver who leads by example.” – worthless.

First, don’t ever write in the first person, and second, prove it.

Demonstrated innovative problem solving skills by introducing a new billing system which cut company costs by 18% and increased office productivity by 35%” – now you’re talking. However, this still isn’t a skill. It’s an achievement. 🙂

Simply put, a skill on a resume includes things such as “certified in ABC systems”, or “proficient in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint”. Stop trying to over think things and simplify. A great resume is simple, short, and packed with solid reasons that you are the best person for the job. Oh yes, and it doesn’t have any spelling or grammatical errors either, so please check that.

Of course, the best advice I could give you is to stop worrying about what to include in a resume and figure out a way to work for yourself, but to each his own.

Related articles on what to include in a resume:

Popular search terms for this article:

5 things to leave off your résumé

 Post Tags
Wally Peterson is a freelance writer and aspiring beach bum with a face made for blogging. He lives 60 seconds from the sand (walking time) on the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.


  1. J. Alexander Curtis on the 10th July

    I laugh everytime that I get a resume that says: “Proficient at Microsoft Word”. Well good for you, you deserve a cookie i guess. I would assume anyone qualified for a job that I am hiring has the ability to figure out how to use a word processor. I interviewed for a Senior Lead Software Developer yesterday and he had this on his resume.

    “So let me get this straight, no only are you an expert level python developer with 10 years of experience writing python and objective-c based code, but you ALSO can use Windows and Microsoft Word? What’s that? You are an EXPERT Microsoft Word user? So you know how to make words italic and bold, and even change indent settings? Wow you REALLY are the full package now!”

    Come on, the year is 2013. You can leave your expert abilities to use word processors and the operating system used by 90% of computers off the resume. If you have a college degree or even a high school dilploma then you would have had to use those word processing skills at some point. Let’s call a truce and assume that everyone applying for a professional job knows this stuff. Stick to what’s relevant.

    One last pet peeve. If you are an expert Photoshop user, than make sure you prove it by spelling it as only ONE word on your resume, not two. If you truly use it everyday, then you see it launching everyday and see it used on the web enough to know that its only one word. Also InDesign is spelled like such. I got a resume recently that spelled it IN-Design, in Design — nope, its InDesign. Again if you really use it then you will see it enough to know this.

    • Kez on the 28th January

      J. Alexander, while it may be true that you’d hope someone would know how to use the most popular business software out there, it has been my experience as an administrative assistant that people actually want to go beyond that if you are claiming you know Microsoft Office programs. They go far beyond simply typing something up, as any administrative support employee knows.

      There is more to Word than simply typing letters as well. Can a person perform a mail merge? Can they wrap text around photos if they are making a newsletter? Do they know how to integrate information from Excel and other programs? I know you find this hilarious and obvious, but not everyone going for a job has been to college and had to utilize programs for their class work. Depending on when someone graduated from high school, they may not have had any computer training there, either.

      You honestly can’t tell who is coming in to apply at your place of work, so try to see it from their point of view, hm?

Add a Comment