Your resume is often the first introduction you will have to a Recruiter for a position. After providing the document a quick glance, the Recruiter will quickly evaluate not only your qualifications and experience, but also your professionalism.
How will the Recruiter make this evaluation of your professionalism? Several ways – the Recruiter will evaluate the format used; the quality of the paper (if hard copy), and whether you include a Cover Letter. Beyond that, Recruiters will also evaluate what you actually place on the document and whether it should be on there.
So, if having certain items may devalue your Resume, then what are some of the items that should be avoided?
• Personal Data – In some countries it is very common to place a variety of personal information into your Resume (or “CV” internationally). However, in the U.S., it is a general rule to avoid anything that is not related to work. Examples of items to avoid include hobbies (i.e. sports, reading, poker, etc.), age, marital status, children, religion, etc. These items are almost always irrelevant and will just serve to make the Recruiter uncomfortable, as this is generally information that should never be part of a hiring decision (and may also be illegal to be part of). You always place yourself in a position where you may be screened out by a personal item (legally or not) that is not relevant. Why do that to yourself? Only the most basic personal information should be included, such as your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number.
• Photos/Clip Art – No photos of yourself should be included, unless you are seeking a modeling position, because of the reasons listed in the item above. Also, avoid the use of “cutesy” clip art, unless you are seeking a position where creativity of that nature is valued, such as in a graphic arts type of position.
• Too Much Information – This is different than the addition of personal data, as sometimes you can have too much information, even if it is relevant. Recruiters will have limited time to review your Resume, if you are going onto your fourth page; most likely you are including an overwhelming amount of information. For example, typically go back no more than approximately 15 years on your Resume, and avoid short-term “temp-like” assignments, unless you are uncomfortable with the gap left in your Resume if you omit.
• “Typos” – This may just be the most commonly made mistake on a Resume. This goes beyond just using some questionable grammar, as a large number of Resumes have misspelled or clearly misused words. The statement being made by you is that either you lack Attention to Detail, or you have poor written communication skills. Neither is the way you should want to be referred as.
• False Information – Don’t place anything on your Resume that is not true. At some point, it will be caught and you will find yourself in a difficult situation that may permanently damage your career. Stick with the truth and facts, especially when it comes to the most common areas of mistruth….your education and your work history dates.
• Confidential Information – I am sometimes amazed at what candidates will tell me when being recruited. Leave any information that your current (or even past) employer would deem confidential, off your Resume. Examples of this may be specific clients or detailed sales numbers. A prospective employer reviewing your resume may be interested in this information, but also absorbing the data may ultimately conclude that you can’t be someone that they would trust.
• Excuses/Explanations – Avoid using your Resume to explain why you were termed from your last position, or why you have certain gaps in your employment. Generally speaking, these types of items are much better explained personally during a phone screen or interview.
• Don’t be “Quirky” – Your Resume address should be basic and professional, such as your first and last name. Not only is it professional, but it is then easy for the Recruiter to find. Don’t include a goofy nickname, or any attempts to be funny.
• Watch the “Big Words” – Your resume should not be an exercise in how well you use a thesaurus. Use words that are related to the level of position you are seeking. The risk of misusing the word or confusing the Recruiter is generally greater than any chance you have of impressing this person.
• Salary or Benefit Requirements – Don’t if unsolicited place any “demands” in your Resume, such as salary requirements or benefit needs. Unless you have a skill that is in demand and no one else has, you will only serve to offend the Recruiter.
• Generic “Catch Phrases” – If you are going to use such “throwaway” terms as “team player”, “successful”, “hard worker”, then add some detail that will be interesting and impactful. Reality is these are all items that everyone should have and provides no real value on a Resume without some type of detail.
Your Resume is an important introduction for you to a prospective company. It is important that the document accurately reflect just how professional you are, regardless of what level position you are interested in. It is important to remember that what you don’t place on your Resume is as important as what you do include.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: