Many jobseekers ask me what they should include in their résumé to make it stand out and get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.
The flip side is what you should not include in your résumé which means you might have some deleting to do.
Here’s the thing…..
Removing certain information can actually boost the résumé’s ability to generate interest by creating a more readable, relevant, and polished career marketing tool.
While you want to limit the résumé length two 2 or 3 pages, what’s really more important is getting rid of unessential things that take up space for no good reason.
Most people include either too much information in their résumé, too little, or things that are unrelated to the target position.
While it’s tempting to stuff your résumé with all of your amazing qualifications, accomplishments, and experience, too much of a good thing is actually not good especially when its not directly addressing the job requirements.
Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to spend more than a few seconds skimming your résumé, so you need to make sure that every piece of information that you include is going to have maximum impact to help the résumé get through the ATS and to grab the immediate attention and interest of the human reader.
The general rule of thumb with résumé writing is that LESS IS MORE. Be selective and brutal in your editing by deleting any space-wasting words and content that really doesn’t need to be there.
Don’t include something that pushes your document to an additional page unless it’s absolutely critical information that the employer must know. In this case, I would probably edit out something to get that résumé back to two pages if possible.
Think of your résumé as real estate – it’s all about location, location, location. You don’t want to include anything that’s going to waste prime real estate space.
Top 11 Things to Delete from your Résumé
#1: The word “Résumé” or “Résumé of” in the header
Trust me – we know it’s a résumé. You’re just stating the obvious which just looks, well, kinda weird. It’s also taking up valuable space that could be reserved for something important.
#2: The phrase “references available upon request”
Including this phrase is an outmoded practice and will just make you look out-of-touch. You don’t need to tell the employer you have references – they’ll expect them so you better have them.
I still see people listing ALL of their duties and responsibilities under each position in the work experience section which produces a résumé that’s too copy dense and hard to scan quickly. You really should limit the bullet points to about 6 per employer.
Making your résumé a laundry list of tasks is boring for the reader and doesn’t tell them what makes you good at what you do.
Think about it – your tasks will be roughly the same as someone else in the same role. What you end up doing, is creating a résumé that looks and sounds like a generic job description with your name on it.
This strategy won’t help you stand out from your competitors which won’t get you noticed by hiring authorities and your résumé will likely end up in the HR “black hole”.
What you need to do is transform the tasks into accomplishment-based impact statements that clearly show not only what you did but how well you did it.
While there’s nothing wrong with showing your key duties and responsibilities, you need to go a bit farther and include the positive result of your actions.
#4: Primary education
You should delete your high school and grade school education from your résumé. Employers typically want to know about post-secondary education. The only time you might list your high school is if the employer specifically requests the minimum of a high school diploma.
#5: Old and unrelated education
The older the education is, the less impact it will likely have. If your degree, diploma, certification, or designation is from many years ago, you should probably delete the dates because including them might create ageism.
Additionally, If the education is not related to your target position, then excluding it might be the better option, particularly if keeping it in pushes your résumé to an additional page
#6: Old work experience
The general rule of thumb is to go back no more than about 15 years but there will be exceptions to this rule depending on several factors.
For the most part, the older the experience, the less positive impact it will have. While it’s recommended to show career progression, you don’t need to show everything. You could be setting yourself up for age discrimination.
Plus, listing more experience than is necessarily will take up a lot of space on the résumé, making it less “readable” which could prompt the human reader to not want to read it at all.
#7: Unrelated personal hobbies/interests
Your résumé is a professional career marketing tool, so there is a fine line as to how much personal information you should include, if any.
I’m sure most recruiters, hiring managers, and HR would love to know EVERYTHING about your personal hobbies and interests because that will give them a lot of clues into what makes you tick.
Knowledge is power – the more they know about your personal stuff, the more you are setting yourself up for discrimination by giving them the ammunition they might be looking for to filter you OUT of the hiring process.
In my professional opinion, you should delete any personal information that is NOT 100% related to the job you are applying for and even then, you must be confident that this information will give you a competitive advantage.
If you aren’t 100% sure about whether to include any personal information, then delete it. Its inclusion could hurt you more than help you.
Even if the information won’t have an effect either way, it’s better to delete it because it’s just taking up valuable space that you could use for something that would be more beneficial.
#8: Unrelated work experience
If you have work experience that is completely unrelated to your target position, then it would be better to delete it provided that it doesn’t leave a big work gap that is within the last few years.
I would prefer that you include the experience rather than have a gap however, you need to find as many transferable skills and accomplishments as you can and highlight those under that work experience.
Now, if deleting the work experience leaves a gap but it’s from many years ago, it might be fine to leave off that information, especially if it improves the readability of the résumé and prevents it from running onto an additional page.
#9: Affiliations of a “sensitive” nature
It’s recommended to delete any any associations and affiliations you have that give clues as to your political or religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, and things of that nature.
Of course, there is an exception to the rule.
If the employer you are targeting supports the kind of groups or associations you are affiliated with, then you can leave it in otherwise it’s safer to leave it off the résumé.
While it’s wrong for any of your personal information to be used in a hiring decision, it is normal for someone to do that, so it’s best to leave out anything that’s personal unless you are sure that sharing this information would actually work in your favour.
#10: Personal data
Never include any sensitive or confidential personal data on your résumé for security reasons. If it gets into the wrong hands, you could be making yourself vulnerable to things like identity theft, online account hacking, and other nefarious activities.
The information I’m referring to includes things like your birthdate, passport information, social insurance number, marital status, drivers license number, and other things. I even recommend that you do not show your street address and stick with just the town/city, province/state, and postal/zip code.
Never include your references on your résumé. You don’t want people contacting your former employer, colleagues,and clients without your prior approval.
Also, other people’s contact information is confidential and should not be on your document because you never know where it’s being sent. I’m sure they won’t appreciate receiving unsolicited emails and phone calls or being spammed.
References should be provided only when you are going through the interview stage and preferably when you are close to an offer.
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Hi! I’m Diana.
I draw from over 15 years recruitment, career/job search coaching, and sales/marketing experience to help all kinds of jobseekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired for their dream job.
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