14 Things You Should and Should Not Include on a Resume
The answer to the question of whether something should be included on your resume — or not all — depends on who you ask. Of course, there is information you must have, some you shouldn’t and other data that’s questionable. For instance, some people wonder if you should include information from your StrengthsFinder 2.0 profile, which details your top traits and skills. While there is a place for skills on a resume, you should only list certain ones.
To guide you in crafting the perfect resume, here are some things you should and should not include on your resume.
Things You Should Include on Your Resume
The things you should include on your resume are pretty self-explanatory. But there might be a couple of surprises. All things that are optional are also included in this list.
- Identifying Information
Always include your name, mailing address, phone number and email address in a section at the top of your resume. As an added note, make sure to use a professional sounding email address. If you need to create a new one just for resume purposes, do so.
Although an objective once was a must-have when crafting a resume, now it’s optional. If you include an objective, be concise. Include the job or field you’re interested in and state what your goals are in relation to it.
A summary is a section where you give the reader a snapshot of who you are by bulleting your goals, skills and personal and professional experiences that make you a great candidate for the position. Like the objective, this is optional, too.
When listing your work experience, start by listing your most recent job. Depending on your age and level of experience, you may also want to include internships or volunteer work.
For each position, whether you were employed, worked as an intern or as a volunteer, include the name of the company or business you worked for, the name of the position and the month and year the position began and ended.
Write active statements to describe the tasks you completed, as well as your accomplishments.
List any degrees you have in reverse chronological order, which means the most recent degree earned will come first. The same goes for any certifications you may have earned. You can also include your GPA and any minor you may have.
For degrees, you’ll want to name the university or college and your date of graduation. But do not include your high school diploma on your resume unless you are currently still attending high school.
The skills section is another optional section. If you have specific proficiencies or skills that directly relate to the position you’re trying to obtain, however, you would do well to list those. For example, things like computer software and hardware skills, foreign language proficiencies and other relevant skills that are not listed any other place on your resume can go here.
Things You Should Not Include on Your Resume
Just like there are things you should include on your resume, there are things you shouldn’t put on your resume. Here are the details.
- Personal Information
While you do need to include identifying information, such as your name and address, you don’t need to other personal information. Leave out your weight, height, birthdate, place of birth, religion, sex and political affiliation.
- Long Blocks of Text
If you want employers or hiring managers to read your resume, you don’t want to include long block of texts. Make the information in your resume easy to read by writing concisely and using bulleted information where you can.
- General Job Descriptions
Instead of giving a general description of jobs you’ve held, such as a laundry list of responsibilities or duties, you should instead make statements regarding the skills you utilized and the resulting achievements.
- Using the Pronoun “I”
When you are stating what you achieved at different jobs, do not start your statements with “I.” Instead start with the past tense of the active verb, such as managed, leveraged, reduced, evaluated and organized.
- Distracting Language
Keep the language in your resume simple and concise. Flowery, complicated language only serves to distract the reader.
- Outdated or Unnecessary Information
Leave out information that has no relevance to the job you’re interested in. In general, do not list hobbies or interests. Avoid mentioning your GPA if it’s below 3.0. In fact, don’t mention any academic achievements that are unimpressive. And in most instances, do not mention positions held more than 10 years ago.
- Bad Grammar or Misspellings
If you are the author of your resume, don’t expect your eye to catch everything. Even if you are well-versed in grammar and spelling, it’s easy to miss tiny errors. Have several people proofread your resume or hire a professional. Grammar and spelling errors can give prospective employers an excuse to slip your resume to the bottom of the pile or worse.
- Contact Information for Previous or Present Employers
Never freely give this type of information. It’s unprofessional and gives prospective employers the freedom to contact your references without you having a chance to give them a heads up. Instead, wait until you are asked for this information, which is most often when you fill out a formal application.