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Things Not to Include on a Resume (CV)

by Peter X Draper

The purpose of writing your resume is to get the prospective employer to invite you to an interview. However, even people who know this persist in their belief that a resume has to capture their entire career-life history and say everything, good or bad about them. The fact is that your resume is simply an advertisement that gets you the click. It needs to 'sell it', and not just 'tell it' about yourself. You want to honestly up-sell your achievements and leave out the information that does not contribute to you looking like the perfect candidate.

In my experience of writing resumes, I have come across a number of rules about what should go in and what should stay out of a resume. So let me share with you here the things not to include on your resume. They are:

  • Anything You Cannot Provide Evidence For: This is the polite way of saying don't tell lies. You may tell your story in different ways, but any you select must be true.
  • Anything Not Directly Relevant to the Job: Everything you say should support your claim to be the best candidate for the job. Anything that does not do that should be considered strongly for removal.
  • Salary Information: It's just another means to exclude you from the interview. Even if the job advertisement asks for this information explicitly, don't do it. You will want to go through salary later, in a face to face negotiation at the interview stage, but not now.
  • Pictures/Photos: Don't add any pictures of yourself unless you are absolutely required to do so. It is yet another way to exclude you from the running. All employers have their own personal stereotypes and opinions about how you should look. Don't pander to this idea at this stage. (Unless of course you are going for a modelling job or similar, in which case you would be adding full-sized studio photographs, not resume pictures)
  • Gimmicks: Don't add cute gimmicks or graphics or unnecessary ornamentation if you want to be taken seriously. Anything that takes the employer's attention away from your qualifications to do the job should be omitted.
  • Reasons for Leaving Jobs: Any excuses or reasons as to why you left previous jobs should be avoided. It may indeed be obvious from your resume that you have stayed a very short time in your previous job or that you have had many jobs in a very short time. Your best course of action is let the facts speak for themselves and simply never raise the issue. However, you can expect a few questions in the interview when you get there, but leave it till then.
  • Personal Details: Leave these out to avoid any possibility of discrimination. You don't need to put your age, marital status, ethnic origin, excellent health statements, etc. If any of these factors are a requirement for the job then let the issues get raised in the interview, and deal with them there. Also be aware of possible identity theft issues. Here is a security reason for leaving out many personal details. Consider instead, leaving out your street level address, and use a free email address (like Google, Yahoo etc. but do use a professional sounding email name!). You could also list a mobile phone number rather than your house phone.
  • References: Leave out any mention of references and never put reference contact details on your resume. The reason is that people, who you have asked to be references for you, want you to treat their privacy with a lot of respect. So don't splash their contact details around. Also, prospective employers don't actually want to see your references at this stage. I recommend that you only provide references when they specifically ask for them and after at least one interview, so you can have had an opportunity to check the prospective employer out as being legitimate.

Remember that with stacks of resumes to read through, the prospective employer is trying to find reasons to exclude your resume from the selection process. Any information you do record on your resume must enhance your status as the perfect candidate for the job, and not detract from it in any way.

About the Author: Peter Draper is an expert in resume writing. Further information available at

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