Top 10: What Not to Include on Your Resume

I often get asked what someone should include on their resume to make it stand out. While there’s many opinions surrounding this I have found that most HR professionals and hiring managers tend to eliminate candidates based on items that should NOT have been included on their resume in the first place.

If your resume is poorly written (regardless of the qualifications or skills you possess), you will have a hard time getting your desired job – or even so much as an interview.

#1 – A Salutation

A resume and a cover letter are two different things. Your resume should never be addressed to any one. It should simply highlight your education and employment background, as well as your contact information. Saying “Hi, I’m Jane” is not at all necessary.

#2 – The Word “Resume”

This is a hard NO. There is no reason to ever include the word “resume” on your resume. The hiring manager or HR professional in possession of those 1-2 pieces of paper should be able to tell exactly what they are reviewing based on the categories of information being presented to them.

#3 – The Date You Wrote or Last Edited Your Resume

When an employer receives your resume, they are fully expecting it to be up-to-date and as current as possible. Since the expectation is for you to not send outdated information, there is no reason to place a “last edited” date on your resume.

#4 – Personal Data About Yourself Beyond Your Contact Information

Adding additional personal data about yourself may seem like a good idea if you think it will make you stand out more than another candidate, however most employers will set your application aside because you have done so. Why? Because most personal data beyond name and contact information puts the employer at risk of violating EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) regulations. “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. (About EEOC, n.d.)”

#5 – A Photo of Yourself

Please, do not do this. It takes up valuable space where you could be bragging about all of the amazing qualities and skills you possess! It also places the employer in the same situation as #4. I recommend placing your LinkedIn profile url (ex. within your contact information if you feel the need to provide a head shot to whomever will be viewing your resume.

#6 – A GPA If It’s Below a 3.5 on a 4.0 Scale

Not to say your employer won’t be impressed with a 3.0 GPA if you majored in Physics, but quite frankly unless you graduated Cum Laude or better it may not be worth mentioning your GPA on your resume. To be completely honest, as long as you have your degree in hand majority of employers will be satisfied.

#7 – Unrelated Work Experience

Your resume should ideally list your past 10 years of work experience. While you don’t want to leave any alarming gaps of history under your Work Experience section, you also do not want to waste valuable space explaining work experience that is unrelated to the job you are applying for.

#8 – Unrelated Hobbies or Skills

Similar to above, listing out hobbies and skills that are unrelated to the job you are applying for is unnecessary. By all means, if you want to include non-profit volunteer work – do it! There’s likely no reason to include that you’re a black belt in karate though if you’re applying for a position such as a Staff Accountant.

#9 – Reference List and/or the Phrase “References Available Upon Request”

You would be surprised how many employers don’t check resumes these days. This is because if they want to know if you’re a “quality” person, they can likely get a feel for that through your social media. Furthermore, who is actually going to list someone as a reference if they aren’t sure that person will talk highly of them upon receiving a phone call? If an employer wants a list of resumes, they’ll specifically ask for it.

#10 – Spelling/Grammatical Errors

I cannot stress enough how important it is to read your resume over SEVERAL times to make sure there are no misspellings, punctuation errors, or grammar mistakes. If your resume has any of these errors it will imply to the hiring manager that you do not pay close attention to detail. Always let someone other than yourself proofread your resume at least once before submitting to employers!

This is not a comprehensive list by any means as there are dozens upon dozens of do’s and don’ts when it comes to resume writing. As someone who spends much of her time reviewing resumes, I have developed many pet peeves when it comes to formatting, common mistakes, and lack of individuality.

Mixon HR offers resume writing services on both an individual and group basis. A complimentary service provided is 1 free resume proofread for new clients, as well as 1 free resume writing service to military spouses within 6 months of a PCS.

Your resume will likely be your first impression to a new employer.

Make it a great one!


Reference(s): About EEOC. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2018, from

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