What should I NOT include in my resume?
No matter who you ask, everyone will have something different to say about what should and shouldn’t be on your resume. The one critical thought you should consider while writing your resume: If I had a hectic day with multiple resumes to read, what would I have the time to read? What would stand out to me?
The answer: Keep it Direct, Simple, and Impactful.
A key takeaway to remember is that you have three seconds to make an impression on your resume because people quickly read through a large stack of resumes to pick the best candidates.
Knowing what to include in a resume isn’t always easy. So let’s start with what NOT to include:
1. Remove the Personal Summary Section
Don’t sound like a broken record. You probably already provided a personal summary in your cover letter. Any aspects not included in the cover letter are likely sprinkled throughout the remainder of the resume.
A personal summary takes up valuable real estate. Instead, begin with your experience or a list of your skills and certifications. Make a solid and notable impression from the start.
2. Don’t Fill Your Resume with Keywords
Have you heard that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) auto-reject resumes without relevant keywords? Well, that is incorrect. These ATS do not reject a resume; the people on the other end do. So it is not a good idea to awkwardly inserti= words from the job description to get past the system. Only use keywords when it flows naturally and helps communicate your ability to fill the open position.
3. Remove or Limit Outdated Experience
If you are applying for a job in the tech industry, only include your experience from the last three years. Anything beyond that is outdated.
Only include the experience you are up to date on and that is not outdated. Certifications that have expired or skill sets no longer in use are unimportant and show that you are out of touch with the current industry.
Positions that have no translation to the role you want to take on don’t need to be included. If that creates an uncomfortable gap, then include them but share very little detail. Instead, focus on the last couple of roles you have held and put the detail there.
4. Reconsider Photographs & Graphics/Graphs
To avoid any hiring decision based on your appearance, omit your headshot. Let your skills do all the talking. Including graphics as examples of your work in your resume is also tacky and takes up valuable space. Adding a link to your portfolio or blog near your contact info in the header is a much better form of sharing information. Alternatively, wait until you are asked for your portfolio.
Resist the urge to represent your skills in a line chart or graph. Words are much more effective when trying to communicate your accomplishments. Include them in your experience section.
5. Limit Filler Roles
If a job has no relevance, exclude it. You do not need to prove you have been working. Any background check will reveal your complete history. If the interviewer is uncomfortable with gaps, trust them to ask.
Focus on the jobs that will help demonstrate you are the right choice for the open position. When listing your qualifications and past experiences, relate them to the job you hope to fill. Use percentages and numbers to show how you made a measurable impact.
Your resume should be precise and clearly state that you are the best candidate for the job.