10 Things That Have Absolutely No Business Being on Your Resume, According to Recruiters

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May 27, 2024 at 12:40PM UTC

It can feel difficult to keep up with the resume formatting and information that's most useful in getting a job — especially as expectations change over the years, between industries and between organizations. Thankfully, experts who are responsible for the recruitment/hiring at their organization (or who've recruited recently) gave us a refresher on what employers are looking for — and what they'd like to see left behind. Here are 10 things that have no business being on your resume in 2021. 

1. Your hobbies. 

"A recruiter or HR department barely has time to read the important information on a resume, let alone something that can be discussed (if relevant!) in an interview or once you have the job. I always tell clients that I mean it in the nicest way possible when I say that no one cares about what you like to do in your free time. At least not until after they know you are the right person for the job." — Brendan Heffernan, Writer/Editor at Dunk or Three 

2. Details about why you're searching. 

"The one thing that should never be included on a resume is the reason why you left your previous employer(s). Often it is best to save those reasons for the in-person interview. This way nothing's misinterpreted and you can explain, in detail, your reason for leaving." — Krishna Powell, CEO of HR 4 Your Small Biz, LLC

3. Your salary. 

"You should NEVER include salary information on your resume.  We occasionally see salaries listed for each position.  It's a huge no-no.  This really cheapens your value as a candidate." — Jan Hudson, Partner and COO of SurfSearch

4. Basic technology proficiency.  

"At this point, most people have at least a basic working knowledge of how to write blog posts, send e-mails and use the programs in Microsoft Office. If you have an unusually high proficiency with the program and it’s relevant to the position, it’s worth including (e.g. a data manager applicant with advanced knowledge of Excel/Access). But in most cases, though, it reads as fluff." — Jon Hill, Chairman and CEO of The Energists

5. A list of unprovable soft skills.  

"Any soft skill that is unprovable or vague is usually not worth listing on your resume. For instance, it's almost never worth it to say you are a team player, strong communicator or fast learner. Simply listing these soft skills don't prove you actually have them in your arsenal. Instead, it's far better to mention specific achievements and things that you've done that would prove you have these skills to begin with." — McLean Mills, Cofounder of Resume Writing Services

6. Weak verbs. 

"Keep weak verbs and descriptions off your resume! The purpose of your document is to sell — not tell — your career. Choose strong verbs that will make an impact (ex. "developed" instead of "made"). Also, emphasize achievements rather than duties to sell the value you have provided to past employers and the value you can possibly provide to potential employers." — Marcoiya Fair, Founder of Fair Share Career Services

7. Your GPA, if you are not applying directly out of school. 

"A big faux pas I see is applicants who have been out of college for several years include their GPA on their resume. Generally, GPA is a poor predictor of how well one would get the job done if hired, so employers do not usually take this number too seriously. As a working professional, mentioning your GPA also comes off as a bit unsophisticated. That being said, if you really must showcase your academic acumen, use a phrase such as ‘Graduated Summa Cum Laude’ and leave it at that." — Vincent Scaramuzzo, President of Ed-Exec, Inc.

8. Paragraphs. 

"Hiring managers and recruiters receive a lot of resumes each day, so they prefer a resume that can be quickly skimmed. They'll still read closely if you catch their interest, but they're likely to skip over big, bulky paragraphs. Instead, use bullets, short paragraphs containing two to three sentences at most, and numbers/data to catch their attention quickly." — Biron Clark, Former Executive Recruiter and Founder at CareerSidekick.com 

9. "References available upon request."

"This goes without saying, and stating this on your resume takes up valuable space and may make your resume appear outdated. There's no benefit to putting it, and it should not be included." — Clark

10. Your picture. 

"It is an outdated practice to include a photo in your resume, except when your prospective employer specifically asks for it.  For most positions, a photo only makes your resume vulnerable to discrimination and superficial judgment." — Shari Smith, Founder of Shari - Sells

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