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Resume writing tips: Nine things to leave off your resume

Updated on February 27, 2013

Leaving out information from your resume

Most resume writing advice is usually about what to include, and you've probably heard it all before, everything from using active verbs to applying formatting, but sometimes, it's also important to know what to leave out of your resumes. That can certainly make the difference between getting a call and not. Some of this may even conflict with what you've heard. But it's a tough economy, and recruiters and employers are getting picky, so here are some suggestions.

Resume tips
Resume tips

Resume tip 1 -Objectives, fluff and bad grammar

  • Leave off your job objectives. Instead, promote your "value add", that is what it is that you do best to help your prospective employer solve his/her problems. Furthermore, be ready to walk your talk. The axiom "show, don't tell" applies here, so back up your statements with facts, figures and examples.
  • Leave out empty phrases. “Demonstrated ability, exceptional communicator, self starter, ..." are cliches. No one knows what these are anymore. Back it up!.
  • Leave out bad grammar. This is a no-brainer. Keep your voice consistent, and avoid shifting from first to third person voice.When you write "I have successfully increased revenue by 30 per cent", and then "easily learns new technologies" you are switching between first and third person. This is not a good writing ploy. Furthermore, it sounds incongruent and it gives your resume a lack of coherence. So keep your voice style consistent.

Resume tip #2-Keep it relevant

  • Leave out software that everyone uses. Knowledge of software is a must-have skill. At the very least, mention that you are familiar with the latest version of the MS Office package. There's no need to start listing all the individual programs (unless that is specifically required in an ad). Do include any other programs you know that will put you ahead of the competition. Do mention any expertise with Social media, Web 2.0, Learning Management systems, Adobe Suite. These are hot, and the more of those you know, the better. Just make sure they are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Leave out irrelevant experience. That summer job 16 years ago in the amusement park selling cotton candy is probably not relevant to your goals as a computer programmer. Your reader only cares about what's of interest to him/her.What is it you can do for that person? If you are in sales, and you helped develop and design a contact database to track supplies, that’s nice, but not relevant. Consider, too, leaving out more questionable extra curricular activites that are not related to the job (are you a member of the skydiving club? The bungee jumping association? The employer doesn't need to know that). But if you are a volunteer teaching literacy skills and you are interested in a job as an English teacher, that, of course is more relevant to your goal).
  • Leave out that phrase "references upon request". Hopefully you didn't crawl out from under a rock. Keep your references on a separate sheet, and offer them when asked. If you are a solid candidate, it is assumed you will have references.

Resume tip #3: Leave out these digits: Extra phone number, Ages, and GPA's

  • Just one phone number please- List the number where you are most easily reached. Consider adding a second number, if necessary, but add a disclaimer such as "leave messages only", or "call after 5 p.m.
  • Leave out discriminating information- The employer wants your skills. Unfortunately, some information can unnecessarily bias the employer. So leave out such details as your age, sex, religion, marital status, and religious or racial ethnicity. Also, avoid using photos unless you are a model, actor, TV presenter, or even in sales. Appearances matter a little more in these professions.
  • Leave out irrelevant education - If you have a lot of diplomas, certificates, and training designations, only include the ones that are relevant to your goal. Consider also leaving out the year you graduated (this will date you ) or your GPA unless it was stellar.

More advice on what to exclude from your resume

To sum up...

Every resume must speak directly to an employer's needs, and attention spans are short. So, leave off the fluff, the bad grammar, the personal details such as age, race, ethnicity, gpa, the extra phone numbers if possible, and any other details that don't directly support your goal.


Submit a Comment
  • Rhonda_M profile imageAUTHOR

    Rhonda Malomet 

    8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Age is definitely a problem Larry...I have been reduced to part time because they can get younger less experienced instructors to teach and pay them half as much. On my own resume, I've started leaving of the dates of my two undergrad degrees, especially since I more recently received a masters (I'm 53...). I think freelancing/self-employment are the best ways to go at the moment.

  • profile image

    Larry Wall 

    8 years ago

    I would not disagree with you, except that more and more you are downloading your resume to an on line application and they are going to ask some of the things you say to leave out.

    They cannot ask your age--but they can ask when you finished high school and college--duh--figuring the age is not hard.

    In my case my I held my last job for 22 years, they know I am gold.

    Some ask for GPA, some even ask for copy of transcripts. At my age, 60, my College GPA tells you less about my abilities than my experience.

    Also,to be accurate if you say Microsoft Suite, do you mean basic or professional. Access is in professional and they may be the skill the employer is seeking. The Adobe Creative can come with or without Premiere, again, is that a skill the employer is seeking.

    I think the problems with resumes today, we are all trying to use a cookie cutter approach because employers are using a cookie cutter way of hiring. I have been turned down because of my age, for being over qualified and turned down for jobs such as associates in mobil phone stores or part time bank tellers, within five minutes of completing the online application. No one can convince me it is not an age issue, but it cannot be proved.

    For younger people the landscape may be different, but those over 55 and possibly 50 are finding it harder and harder to find work.

    I was at a meeting once regarding economic development. We had the manager of a local company saying that people reached their peak performance at age 35. I was 45. I promise you, I could do more work in a day, using more skills than he ever thought about.

    I lost may last job because I am not an yes man. I disagreed with the new boss. He said I was overly negative. I was not fired. My position was eliminated. Same difference, just sounds better.


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