What Not to Include on Your Resume

by Cathy Eng

Resume Mistakes

There are certain aspects of a candidate’s resume that can have the opposite effect than intended. Seemingly helpful information that is found in a "typical resume” can have a negative effect on certain job candidates, sending their resume straight to the trash. Here are a few examples of information you may want to leave out of your resume and why:

Job History Dates Before 1990

Though it doesn’t seem like that long ago, listing dates prior to the 90s not only holds little relevance, but communicates your age. This can leave you subject to ageism – or getting tossed aside for fear you may ask for too high of a salary or be gearing up for retirement. A good way to present relevant job information for that time is to list it as "Additional Experience” and simply include your title and company (and a sentence or two about your accomplishments there). This leaves only the most relevant, current information in the spotlight without letting them know you were around before the internet.

Your High School Education or Unfinished College Degrees

Showing this information unintentionally communicates that you lack relevant education and are desperate to put something – anything – in the education section of your resume. While it is best to leave off pre-college education and incomplete higher ed, you still have options such as:

  1. If you are close to finishing and/or have a large number of credit hours, it is fine to list the degree something like this: "112 credit hours towards B.S., Business Administration, University of Florida (Graduation: Fall 2011)"
  2. Instead of college, list relevant academic training such as trade certifications, designations, certificates of completion, etc. that you have received. These give the hiring manager assurance that you have an academic background and follow-through.
  3. Leave off your education section altogether so as to draw attention away from the subject altogether. Not an optimal choice, but it may raise fewer red flags than including a weak education section.

Your Address – If Your Targeted Job Is Far Away

Simply put, if you are planning a move to L.A., don’t list your New York address!  Hiring managers see this as an expense (relocation costs), drain on resources (scheduling hassles, conference call interviewing, etc.) – basically a logistical nightmare. If you are planning a move and have an address or P.O. Box in your new city already, feel free to list that. If not, you may opt to just put your current city and state. However, it would be misleading to put the new city and state if you have not established residence there. I have even worked with candidates who chose not to include a location at all for various reasons.

It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to write a resume. By trying to fit the mold of a "typical resume”, you may be doing more harm than good and closing yourself off from some great job opportunities. So, get a friend to read your resume and tell you if aspects like the ones above are limiting you and your career.

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