45 Things You Might Have on Your Resume (That Need to Be Removed)
You put so much thought into what should go on your resume—from your best, most impressive accomplishments down to the perfect, classy-but-modern font.
But to make sure all that effort is put to good use, it’s just as important to pay attention to what shouldn’t be on there. From overused buzzwords that make you look just like everyone else to “creative” touches that do more harm than good, there are plenty of resume elements that annoy—and even turn off—recruiters. And because we want your resume at the top of the pile, we’ve pulled them all together in one complete guide.
For the best chances of landing that interview, grab your resume and make sure it’s free and clear of these 45 things.
- A Career Objective: That boring boilerplate “I am a hard working professional who wants to work in [blank] industry” is a bit obvious—why else would you be submitting your resume?—and takes up valuable space. Instead? Make it crystal clear why you’re so interested in each specific position you’re applying to in your cover letter.
- A Skills-Based Format: Current recruiter wisdom says to stick with the good old reverse chronological (where your most recent experience is listed first) in almost every occasion. If your most recent experience isn’t what you want to highlight or you’re re-entering the workforce after a long hiatus, top your resume with an “Executive Summary” section that outlines your best skills and accomplishments, or create two experience sections: One specific one, such as “Business Development Experience” or “Editorial Experience,” followed by a more general one.
- Photos or Other Visuals: A recent study showed that “such visual elements reduced recruiters’ analytical capability and hampered decision-making” and kept them from “locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience.”
- Mega Blocks of Text: Studies show that recruiters look at resumes pretty quickly—a minute at best, the blink of an eye at worst—so your goal is to make yours as easy to skim as possible. That means keeping your text short and sweet, and in bullet points, not block text.
- A Second Page: If you have less than 10 years of experience, having more than one page can be a deal-breaker for some recruiters. So why risk it? And with a little formatting prowess
Work Experience and Education
- A Regurgitation of Your Job Description: In most cases, recruiters care less about what you did day to day (like answer phones and email) and more about what you accomplished over time (like increased customer satisfaction 20%). Here are a few tips for turning your duties into accomplishments
- Unnecessarily Big Words: Why “utilize” when you can “use?” especially when the former takes up more precious space on your resume. “Run the ‘would I ever say this in real life?’ test on every phrase and sentence in your resume,” says Foss. “If you find words or statements that don’t read like something you’d say
And OK, Because We Had To
- Typos: But don’t rely on spell check and grammar check alone—ask family or friends to take a look at it for you (or get some tips on how to edit your own work
Photo of person typing courtesy of Shutterstock.
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