Top 10 Things to Leave OFF of Your Resume

Last week I asked this question on Twitter and LinkedIn, "What should job seekers leave OFF of their resume?" As of this writing, this question has generated 44 responses from recruiting, career, HR, and resume professionals and hiring managers. The number one thing that was suggested to leave off of your resume is something that most job seekers simply put on there because that's how it has traditionally been done. I'm talking about the Objective at the top of your resume.

These days, if your resume is not laser focused on the job for which you are applying there is a good chance it will not make the cut. An ambiguous Objective statement right at the top of your resume does nothing for that focus. Career coach Ann-Marie Ditta suggested leaving off "An objective that states "looking for a growth oriented opportunity where I can use my skills and experience" So what, it says nothing to the hiring manager other than you are desperate, self focused, or need a career coach. Avoid cutesy email addresses. "

Veteran recruiter Michael Kelemen, (AKA the Recruiting Animal) concurred with nixing the Objective, "I would leave off the OBJECTIVE or SUMMARY if they are just filled with hackneyed stuff like telling me they're results-oriented, time-sensitive workers. I've actually asked people for evidence of these claims. They tend to be shocked and angered by the question - again because they just mindlessly put down what some ancient resume book tells them to."

David Graziano, Darryl Dioso, Michael Keane, Andy Lester, Eric Thomas, Courtney Wunderlich, Tiffany Skoog, and Mike Avillion all agreed on eliminating the Objective. There were only a couple of respondents who disagreed. One caveat may be for a new grad for whom it's not obvious what they are seeking in a career. But in general, I think if you are going to put anything in that top spot, it should be something of a positioning statement that speaks directly to the job description and includes every keyword in the employer's requirements. If you don't have the background to back that up, you may not be a fit for the job. Absolutely do not put anything there that is ambiguous. When in doubt, leave it out.

The other main suggestion that was conveyed by the respondents is that job seekers should leave anything off of their resume that does not directly relate to the job at hand. I think that is clear enough and covers quite a bit. Less is more. Bill Vick, author, and founder of ExtremeRecruiting.TV, suggests even that the resume itself is one of the smaller tools in a successful job search.

"I think what should be included is as important to look at as what should be left off.

Too often smart, brainy and talented people forget what brought them to the party in the first place and spend so much time dinking around with their resume they seem to forget people hire people - not resumes.

Like driving your car glance in back of you as you drive down that road to your next job but concentrate on what's ahead and tell 'future' stories of what you can do - not what you have done. Telling is not selling and ultimately over 70% of all hires are done because of a reference or relationship. Focus on those, not your resume."

Thank you to all those who responded to this question, making this great list possible.

The top 10 things to leave OFF of your resume.

10. Religious or Political Affiliations

9. Toastmasters

8. Hobbies

7. Photos


5. Compensation

4. Family Info (Marital Status, Children, Pets)

3. References Available Upon Request

2. Anything not relevant to the position for which you are applying

1. Objective

View the full list of responses here. What's your opinion? Would love to hear your comments.

Original Post at

Views: 177

Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on April 30, 2009 at 11:28am
Totally agree with the Top 10 list of things to leave off of your resume and would add that unless you are applying for an academic position, leave off all of your publications. If you want to create a seperate document to provide to an employer during your interview--great--but a half-a-page to a full page of publications ads unnecessary length to your resume.

Also, I would like to add: get over yourself. No matter how long you've been in the biz you do not need an 8+ page resume. I think 5 pages is severally pushing it. Find a way to cut down, summarize, and package yourself that highlights your most relevant and important skills and experience. It's akin to telling your entire life story on the first date--great way to send an employer screaming in the opposite direction, avoiding your phone calls and having the secretary send you to voicemail for a good decade.
Comment by Craig Fisher on April 30, 2009 at 1:25pm
Jane, great comments! You should repost them here so more people will see!


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