Never Include These Ten Things on Your Resume

John Krautzel
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Your resume must instantly make an impression on busy hiring managers, so it's important to maximize its impact. While thinking about what information you should include, give equal attention to information you should omit. Certain content might be unnecessary, redundant or inappropriate. Consider omitting the following 10 items from your resume.

1. Sensitive Personal Information

Leave out any information someone could use to steal your identity, such as your social security number, driver's license information or state ID number.

2. Your Address

Don't give the hiring manager a reason to deny you based on where you live. For example, he may decide your commute will be too long. The only contact information your resume needs is your email address and phone number.

3. Objective Statement

Objective statements are unnecessary and considered outdated by many hiring managers. For greater impact, replace your objective statement with a brief career summary that highlights your most relevant job experiences.

4. Discriminatory Information

Refrain from sharing details that could be used to discriminate against you. That includes your age, weight, race, political affiliation, religion or sexual orientation.

5. Past or Present Salary

Some employers may ask about your current salary, but what they really want to know is if they can afford you. Instead of sharing your actual salary information, give employers a target range, and never list it in your resume. Salary discussions usually take place during the final stages of the hiring process.

6. GPA

Unless you just graduated from school within the last few months or have very little experience beyond your education, employers aren't really concerned about your GPA.

7. Photograph

Keep professional headshots off your resume. The only time a photograph is appropriate is when the job requires you to have a certain look, such as acting or modeling jobs.

8. Cliché Words or Phrases

Don't waste valuable resume space with empty buzzwords and phrases like "team-player," "detail-oriented" or "results-focused." Instead, show and prove your value by listing your actual accomplishments. Where possible, back up your claims with hard data, such as sales figures or statistics.

9. References

Don't list the names or contact information of your references on your resume. Managers generally request this information during the later stages of the hiring process.

10. Graphics

Unless you're a graphic designer, keep your resume free of fancy fonts, tables or images, which can be distracting to employers. Keep your resume sleek and concise.

The information you leave out of your resume is just as important as the information it contains. You want employers to see your skills, qualifications and achievements, so omit filler and distracting details. A simple, compelling resume that includes only the most relevant information is more likely to grab a recruiter's attention.

Photo courtesy of Goldy at


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  • Bernice C.
    Bernice C.

    Times have changed. Thank you for the update. In the Technical Age of e-mail, it is no longer a communication requirement for the address. Good point but I know employers must require it for tax purposes and knowing where you are located with a residential address. So, when do you have to release the information if not on the resume?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Lynn D thank you for the personal insight. Always help to have real live examples. References - a judgment call I would say. Personally I would probably not include references on my resume simply because I want to protect those references. Why allow their names, addresses and phone numbers be available to anyone who might happen to see your resume. But research shows that many employers want to see them. I would only include them if asked for on the job posting. And, even then, I might include them in the cover letter instead of the resume. The heading is another personal call. In all of my years of being a job seeker, I never included my address at the top of my resume; just name, email address and phone number. As for GPA, I don't know why employers are asking for that. Mine, also, was so long ago that I don't see what advantage it is to the employer to have it. @Lyle N. do you do background checks on all applicants? I would think that you would only need my physical address if I am being considered for the position - after the interview. Is this outdated thinking? Thanks again. Remember - this is just a simple guide. If it doesn't work for your situation, then only use what you need. Every employer/recruiter has their own way of doing things. We simply try to supply guidelines to help you on your journey.

  • Lynn D.
    Lynn D.

    I haven't included my address on my resume in years -- I do, though, provide my email address and phone number. What the employer needs is a way to contact me. While Lyle may be correct that HR managers need an address to run a background check, I've never had a background check run until I've already been offered the position and passing it is (and sometimes a drug screen) is a final condition of employment.

    Tabitha asks about how to account for an employment gap. I'd say how to address it somewhat depends on what one was doing during that time. If you took time off to raise your family, even though employers can't legally ask about one's family, I'd say just put it in there -- being a mom involves all kinds of organizational and administrative work, which is easy enough to include in a brief summary paragraph explaining the gap. A few years ago, I moved out of the area and took several years off after 20 years in my field; I've variously put it in both my resume and cover letter (depending on the application process -- no place for it in online applications), describing it as a hiatus.

    As for the GPA, as someone who's been away from school for a number of years, I've been quite frustrated (as have several friends) at finding it to be a mandatory field in a surprising number of online applications.

    I agree with those who agree at leaving off any mention of references. They, like background checks, typically come up in a later stage of the application process.

  • Dawn D.
    Dawn D.

    I don't include references on my resume. As a professional courtesy, I feel compelled to give them a heads up as to who is going to call, and the type of position I am applying for. If I end up not pursuing the position, there is no need for the reference to be contacted in the first place.

  • LYLE N.
    LYLE N.

    ....and employers rather you provide your references upfront so they don't have to call you back or request it over and over, plus, all employers need salary history with honest figures not estimated an HR manager, I do have access to the company's budget, so be mindful of that when you're out there seeking employment.

  • LYLE N.
    LYLE N.

    I must repeat your address is so critical because as an HR manager myself, I need that to run background checks, I don't really care about your social networks either as many employers don't....what I don't like is all this petty complaining from employers who are only following a supposedly unofficial "pop-culture trend" in hiring practices that's just causing me to do more unnecessary paperwork, wasting more time, and inadvertently makes the job-seeker appear unprofessional....the original traditional resume formats are to be used not changed....if you're one of those so called "progressive or new-age" type of employers, then that becomes a problem because those type of companies are always getting caught up in legal issues that resulted in them deviating from the norm or making up their own rules on hiring (as employment laws don't care about this pettiness) - are not very smart ideas to fix something that is not broken in the first place....

  • LYLE N.
    LYLE N.

    So far, professionals I've consulted on resumes, never told me to leave out my address nor the objective portion. I don't think these items are outdated and especially here in this article there's no distinction made between both the Standard one-two page resumes & the Curriculum Vitae (CV) resumes that are always more than two pages; as there are major differences. This excerpt is vaguely written...I am an HR manager and it's important to be as detailed but briefly concise on resumes.

  • Perry B.
    Perry B.

    Years back, a senior manager (originally from the UK) who was working in the UAE was telling me that he had let pass by one job applicant based solely on the photo included with his resume. Later on he learned that this guy was considered to be the best electronics technician in the Middle East. That was all it took for me to never consider using a photo. I still haven't put a photo on my LinkedIn profile.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. Obviously there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to your resume. Should you include things like your GPA or hobbies? Depends. If they specifically ask for it, then yes, of course include it. But if they don't ask for it, what would be the purpose? Should you include a photo or not? Again - a judgment call. Of course they can find you through your social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as well as here on your account. @Tabitha J you would want to include your actual employment dates and then explain, briefly, in your cover letter why you were out of the workforce for 12 years. Maybe you were raising your children or taking care of your parents, etc. Explain it and move on. But, since you have been out for 12 years, your skills are going to be rusty to say the least. You might want to consider taking a refresher course or two and then include that on your resume. Again, there is no one size fits all. You have to decide what is best to include on your resume since you know your industry the best. Yes it is true that most companies use applicant tracking software (ATS). Yes it will look for keywords from the job posting. If it doesn't find them, your resume will more than likely be discarded or put in a file for six months or so. If the posting asked for certain things such as, please include your salary requirements and you didn't include it, then you just wasted your time because you didn't follow directions. So take the suggestions with a grain of salt. Some of them may apply to your situation but maybe none of them do. As mentioned before, you are the experts in your industry and know what you need to include or not include. All the best.

  • Tabitha J.
    Tabitha J.

    what about employment dates when you've been out of the workforce for some time? I'm re-entering after 12 years of being out of the legal field.

  • Sienna Kim
    Sienna Kim

    The photograph is a bit controversial since in Europe you would almost never send a resumé without a professional picture. I often keep different versions on hand just in case, but I also find recruiters are viewing me on LinkedIn anyway where they see my photo.


    I do agree with much of this but do want to clarify and expand on 3 and 4. No 3 could be industry specific. For instance, often hiring managers of non-profit Social Service agencies are also assessing your overall compatibility with the agency's mission in which case a listed Objective would be helpful. As relates to 4, professional affiliations (clubs/organizations for recent graduates) should also be included.

  • Jose R.
    Jose R.

    I Believe, he is referring to overly used cliche words. I would work backward a bit, look at the jobs you are currently applying for (print 5-10 of them out) highlight keywords, requirements, and such, and then use those words in your resume/cover letter. Example, people have overused the word Extensive (cliche) now the trend is to use Progressive until that one becomes cliche and another word becomes trendy...

  • William Kahn
    William Kahn

    In many cases, especially with large corporations, resumes are filtered by key words in the listing. Those include some of the same cliches you say to eliminate.

  • Jose R.
    Jose R.

    Another recommendation - GPA only if you have a high GPA (putting a low/mid-GPA can give employers more reason to move on). Awards/certificates/old jobs/old education that does not correlate or coincide with what you are searching for avoid. Example of this would be your applying to work as a shipping manager your bachelor's in old medieval english literature, would be wasted space on your resume, same goes for an award given for best poem when you are applying for a SQL Database position; further to this point, certificates only work towards what you are wanting to do or currently doing, if you got a CPSM/CPM does no favors when the company is looking for a SAP Database Programmer... Finally, the last and most important thing of the resume - throw away objective summary, give the recruiter your Professional Leadership Summary... give them in (non-buzz worthy) language, but in clear concise present tense who you are I am a senior-level professional, not I was a shipping clerk... your target audience is the recruiter/hiring manager, and they will give you 5-10 seconds, if you cannot sell yourself within that highly important space than you end up losing out on an opportunity - that is your 5-10 second of go time.

  • FAYE K.
    FAYE K.

    Thank you for a great article!

  • Richard Sepulveda
    Richard Sepulveda

    Address and Objective are all I have ever put on a resume from this list, the rest I admit sound amateurish. I used to say, "References available upon request". but do not any longer. I do have military awards, medals, community, and volunteer items at the bottom. Many non and military hiring management alike relate to or appreciate that in mho...

  • Mark L.
    Mark L.

    "This is just opposite of what a lot of recuiters tell you." Hmm . . . one more reason this is good advice. Remember, recruiters get paid when someone gets a job, not when you get a job. They want to filter to the most acceptable candidate, just like the hiring manager wants to filter candidates.

  • Steve R.
    Steve R.

    not sure I entirely agree with all of these suggestions. Address can go both ways, but I think you should include a city and zip code. I know some employers that will ONLY consider candidates that live close by, and unless your resume is SO uniquely qualified, they can't ignore you, leaving a city and zip code out will automatically eliminate you as well. Not sure I agree with objective statement either. Unnecessary if you're just looking for a general type role, but VERY necessary if you will only consider a very specific type role or with an organization that is in a particular line of business or has a certain culture. I agree on graphics, weird fonts, personal info, GPA, photo, etc.

  • Shirley B.
    Shirley B.

    Considering I did just graduate nearly three months ago and have little experience, the GPA is important for me right now.

  • Jose R.
    Jose R.

    Very interesting article, also to be included should be personal traits and habits (smoking, drinking or non-smoking and non-drinking) should bee off of the resume as well. Some city, county, state, and federal agencies will ask you in their supplemental questionnaire of those type of things. And even though they may be good traits, it is still something that can be considered discriminatory information. I do agree with no fancy graphics, pictures, and other things that can deter away from ATS systems.

  • L. M.
    L. M.

    Excellent points

  • Robert C.
    Robert C.

    This is just opposite of what a lot of recuiters tell you,

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