Channeling your professional work experience and shaping it into a top-notch resume can be tricky business. There’s an art to it.
A carefully-tuned resume can be one of the most important tools you have when it comes to getting important job interview opportunities and landing an ideal gig. But with a number of factors at play influencing whether or not you make the cut, it’s vital to make your curriculum vitae as polished and on-point as possible. To avoid many common mistakes that trip-up eager job candidates, here’s a breakdown of nine things you should never put on your resume:
- Images, artwork or a headshot. Unless you’re applying for a role that requires you to be an on-camera personality, you should avoid any sort of images or artwork on your resume. You risk employers making snap judgments based on your appearance or attire, and you don’t want anything to distract them from evaluating your qualifications and work experience.
- Overly fancy or funky formatting. When it comes to formatting, always keep it clean and simple. Your resume should be easy to read and understand. Employers should be able to quickly glean the most important information without getting a headache or having to hunt for information. Don’t get fancy by using too many fonts, bold colors, or strange formatting styles. The same goes for other areas of presentation: colored or scented paper, for example, is a big no-no.
- Age and personal details. Over sharing can be a dangerous thing. Leave out personal details that aren’t relevant to your work history. This includes everything from your age and nationality to your favorite hobbies and personal interests. If employers are interested in learning more about you as an individual beyond your work skills, let it come up during the face-to-face interviews during friendly banter. Otherwise you risk inviting age discrimination or being passed over for being too personal.
- Work references. Save your list of references for later on in the courtship with a potential new employer. It’s always better to make a good first impression and start the conversation so you’re initially evaluated on the strengths of how you present yourself. This gives you an opportunity to set the tone and put a face to your experience before people start asking former bosses and colleagues about you.
- Generic lists. When including details about your past work experience, avoid any generic “job description” style lists. Instead of rattling off a rundown of what your previous jobs roles entailed, focus on what you accomplished in that position. This will make your resume a more impressive read and help you stand out from the many applicants who didn’t put any impact into their descriptions.
- An exhaustive list of previous jobs. Being thorough in fleshing out your resume is one thing, but there’s no need to include every single place you’ve ever worked. It’s best to focus on highlighting your previous work gigs that are relevant to the role and industry you’re targeting. Older jobs can also be phased out if you have more recent and on-point roles to highlight instead.
- Goals and objectives. Your resume should speak both for you and for itself. If a potential employer wants to know more about your ambition, goals, and objectives, let them ask you directly — and be prepared to give a good answer. But in the meantime, it’s not necessary to eat up precious space on your resume with future ambitions.
- Big words and cutesy lingo. It’s far more important to be thoughtful and targeted with the information you provide on your resume than it is to be clever or endearing. Cut out any lingo, any cutesy turns of phrase, and any big fancy words that require a dictionary to look up. These will only make you come off as being too casual or trying too hard.
- An unprofessional looking email address. Do yourself a big favor and get an email that has your first and last name in it, rather than using the old personal account you’ve had for 10 years. Employers aren’t going to be impressed when they look for your email address and see firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ultimately, it’s best to focus your resume on selling your skills and your ability to get the job done. Highlight things that help employers answer the question of why they should hire you and why you’re the best fit. Anything that doesn’t boost that goal can be safely trimmed.