This post originally appeared on January 12, 2009.
- Objective Statement—I hate to include this, because it’s been a source of amusement to me for so many years. When I read an objective like, “To find a company where I can feel warm and fuzzy every day in every way, using my fabulous people skills to spread sunshine and happiness to others so that the feel like they’ve had a hug every time I touch their lives,” well, I chuckle. Objective statements (short, concise ones anyway) were a good idea back in the days when recruiters received paper resumes, and needed a quick way to sort them into the right stacks. Nowadays, we have computers for that. Your resume is almost certainly being auto-sorted by either an email filter or an applicant tracking system, so there is no need for an objective statement, and since so many of them sound, well, stupid, it’s best to leave them off.
- References Available Upon Request—Well, duh. Of course they are. That’s true for most candidates, so there’s no need to state it. You’re just taking up space that could be better used to describe your accomplishments (and looking a little too old-school in the process).
- Health, Height, Weight, Marital Status, and your Picture—I’m told that including this information used to be the norm back in the day. If you include it, you look like you are still living in, like, 1970. That’s bad. Not only do employers not need this information, but many are freaked out if you include it, because they’re afraid that if they don’t hire you, you’ll sue them based on the information you provided. I know some recruiters who will actually return the resume to the candidate and ask them to resubmit without this information. I think that’s a bit much…but on the flip side, a candidate who still puts stuff like this on his resume is clearly a bit out of touch, and “out of touch” is rarely on the list of Most Desired Traits for any position. Leave this stuff off, please.
- Links to your MySpace Page or other home page—Unless you are applying for a blogging job and are linking to blogs you write, or are applying for a web design job and are linking to work samples, this is just not appropriate. For one thing, those “see my web page for more info” messages are of limited use to corporate recruiters, since the information on your website can’t easily be incorporated into the applicant tracking system. That’s why we ask for resumes, not links. For another, I don’t need to see pictures of you with your friends at a party playing with a blow-up doll (true story). Unless the employer asks for links, or there’s an excellent business reason for providing them, don’t.
- Interests—I don’t need to know that you like walks with your poodle, roller skating, and stamp collecting. I need to know whether you can do the job or not. Don’t fill space on your resume that could be better used telling me how successful you will be in the job, based on how successful you’ve been in past jobs. Including a list of your hobbies or interests is old-school, and like the height and weight stuff, it makes you look out-of-touch. It’s true that companies will consider who you are as a person in determining your fit for their culture, but that’s best done in the interview, not on the resume (and it still won’t factor in your love of roller skating).
- Deception—Please, please don’t make stuff up. In the age of the internet, people are very, very networked, and it is easy to find people who worked at your company and know that you didn’t really invent Post-It notes while you worked there. There’s a myth that companies don’t check these things, but quite a few of them do, and you won’t know until you make a fool of yourself and lose out whether this company does or not. It’s just not worth it.
- Typos—DON’T RELY ON SPELLCHECK. Excuse the shouting, but you would be astonished at how many typos slip through and make you look stupid. Proofread, then proofread again, then wait a few days and proofread again, and then give it to a few other people and have them proofread. In this market, when you are competing with hundreds of other qualified applicants, you cannot have typos. Period.
- Made up words, or words you had to use a thesaurus to find—Bigger words do not make you sound smarter. In fact, your resume is more likely to be read if it is short and punchy. Don’t say “utilized” when you mean “used.”
- Exclamation points—I once had this candidate! She loved exclamation points! She was reasonably qualified! But every single sentence had an exclamation point! It was really freaky! I interviewed her anyway! I turned out that her personality was super peppy! Like, so peppy we wondered if she’d pass the drug test! Resumes are a form of business writing, and business writing almost never requires exclamation points.
- Text-message-speak—Again, resumes are a form of business writing. That means words need to be spelled out, not abbreviated. Proper spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are key. Otherwise, you don’t look hip-you look illiterate. That’s not good. Remember that when you type your name and address in when you first register for job hunting sites like Monster, it’s going to appear on the recruiter’s screen as you type it. If you type in, “pat jones, 123 main st, milwaukee, wi,” it’s going to look sloppy. Put in the extra effort to press down the SHIFT key once in a while, y’know?
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