20 Things to Remove From Your Resume - Undergrad Success

20 Things to Remove From Your Resume

20 Things to Remove From Your Resume
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Think your resume’s ready? Think again. Before you hit the send button, go over your resume one more time. It might have details that need to be deleted or rewritten, such as the ones below.

Summary Section

  • Career Objective. Let’s be honest: Can you write a career objective that isn’t anything along the lines of “To help the company move forward to the next level”, “To be the CEO someday” or “To get a job, period?” If you can’t write it without cringing seven ways ’til Sunday, leave it out.
  • A Functional Rather Than Chronological Format. To most employers, a skills-based resume is a sign that the applicant is hiding a spotty work history. If you have a great track record employment-wise, you can’t go wrong with a chronological resume. Otherwise, try to work with a combined chronological-functional format.


Personal Section

  • Your Photo. Unless you’re explicitly asked to do otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave your picture out of your resume. Employers are still human, after all, and whether they’ll admit it or not, they do judge you based on your appearance.
  • Company Email Address. If you have to do your job hunting at work, remember to use your personal-yet-professional email address instead of your company email.
  • Creative Interests. Yes, it’s nice that you love to read, write and travel the world – but what does that have to do with being a systems analyst?
  • Anything That Can Cause Discrimination. In theory, U.S. employers are supposed to offer equal employment opportunities. In practice, many of these employers do judge applicants based on age, marital status and religion. Don’t mention these if you want to be judged on your own merits, rather than your position in society.


Work History Section

  • Jobs That Lasted Less Than a Year. When you change jobs like a cuttlefish changes color, it can be difficult to convince employers to take a chance on you. Hiring people is expensive, and the last thing an employer wants is to spend thousands of dollars on a promising applicant who’s not in it for the long haul.
  • Generic Descriptions of Your Previous Jobs. There are better ways to describe your previous jobs than copy-pasting from an ad. For example, you can turn your duties into accomplishments by adding concrete numbers, accolades, etc.
  • The Word Unpaid. Employers already understand the implications of being an intern or volunteer, so there’s no need to point out the monetary aspect of it. Instead, concentrate on describing your specific achievements.
  • Any Irrelevant Experience. Your potential employer won’t care about jobs you’ve held more than a decade ago; jobs you’ve held in high school; jobs at home such as doing chores and caring for children; and other jobs that don’t lend the right skills/experience to the position you’re applying for.


Skills Section

  • Generic Skills. Typing, MS Office and Internet research are good skills to have. That is, until you realize everyone else has them too, so they won’t really help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Any Irrelevant Skills. Being able to do one-handed handstands is cool … if you’re applying for a circus, a dance troupe or a gymnastics club. Maybe you can use it to entertain co-workers during breaks, but that’s still not a reason to include it in your resume.


  • “Artistic” Resume Design. Unless you’re applying to be an artist, it’s best to leave those quirky, rainbow-colored fonts out of your resume. Also, avoid these deadly sins of resume design, such as fancy decorations, colored paper and weird formatting.
  • Personal Pronouns. It’s enough to write something like “Doubled sales for the department within two weeks.” There’s no need to add I or your name in the beginning of that sentence.
  • Overused/Vague Jargon. Ever wondered whether words like goal-oriented, innovative and team player are actually hurting you? You might be on to something. In fact, these are three of the 25 most commonly used words that don’t add anything to your resume. If any word on your resume feels empty, or can’t be backed up by solid evidence, cut it out.
  • References Available Upon Request. This phrase can come across as presumptuous. You should either list your references outright, or not mention them at all. (But be sure to have a list ready in case asked for them!)
  • Typos/Spelling Errors/Grammatical Errors. Even a single spelling or grammar mistake can send your resume straight to the rejected bin. Make sure to proofread your resume at least twice, so you’ll avoid embarrassing mistakes like “I markiplied our production by 50 percent.”
  • Anything Exaggerated or Untrue. It’s OK to leave out the not-so-flattering parts of your job history. What’s not OK is embellishing what you’ve written on your resume to make yourself look better than you really are. Just state the facts supporting your achievements, and leave them at that.
  • Anything Over the Two-Page Limit. After doing all of the above, your resume should span two pages, at most. Even if you’ve had a decades-long career, it’s not an excuse to turn your resume into a mini-memoir. Even then, it should be limited to one page in most cases.

Remember: Employers have to go through hundreds of applications every day. When an applicant makes the effort to craft a concise yet compelling resume, employers take notice. If you manage to get your foot in the door, it’s only a matter of time – and a matter of preparation and self-confidence – before you land that job offer.

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Penn State Grad. Career development blogger and freelance writer sharing advice on navigating college and the work world, and finding happiness and success at work. Founder of Punched Clocks. Sporadic tweeter @SarahLandrum

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