Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. This piece ran on Sunday Feb. 13. [To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.] Last week: what NOT to put on your resume.
Appropriate resumé length is a pretty consistent subject of debate among human resources professionals. Some will tell you that your resumé should be one page, max; others will say no longer than two pages — or that it doesn’t matter either way. But there’s one thing that most resumé experts can agree on. No matter the length, resumé real estate is valuable, and only the most important and relevant information should be privy to this prime locale.
While only you can decide what is important enough for your resumé, there are a few things that definitely don’t belong there.
1. Your interests: Your resumé is a professional document, bottom line. “While I always find it amusing that you like rollerblading and good red wine, please don’t tell me this (on your resumé),” says Elizabeth Lions, author of “Recession Proof Yourself.” “I want work-related experience only.” In addition to being off-topic, a long list of outside interests and hobbies may cause a potential employer to worry that you’re over-committed — a definite red flag.
2. An objective statement: Objective statements that outline what you’re looking for in a job or employer are a waste of space. “As a career coach I’m constantly counseling clients to remove this paragraph because it takes up critical real estate on your resumé and (this information is) better discussed in your cover letter,” says Lisa quays, president of Seattle-based career coaching firm Career Woman Inc. “Don’t waste valuable space on your resumé with what I call a ‘fluff’ paragraph.”
3. Salary history: Including a salary history on your resumé will turn any employer off, since you’ll give off the impression that money is your main concern. Plus, if the employer sees that you’re “too expensive” they may disqualify you, and if your salary is on the low side, you may end up with a lowball offer should you get the job.
“(It’s best to) discuss your salary history and expectations during your interview process,” says Sharon Abboud, author of “All Moms Work — Short-Term Career Strategies for Long-Range Success.”
4. Dates of anything you did more than 15 years ago: “You may be giving your resumé to someone who wasn’t even born when you had your first job. If you date yourself so far back, you may set yourself up for age discrimination,” says Kristen Fischer, a certified professional resumé writer from New Jersey.
Agrees abound, “Don’t include the dates of your college graduation if you graduated more than 15 years ago. Just list the name of the college and the degree that you received.”
5. A GPA below 3.25: Anything under that is considered to be average, so why waste space by including something that classifies you as such? Focus on the things that give you a leg up on the competition instead. Have you been out of college for more than 10 years? Take the GPA off altogether. “GPA after a certain level of experience and years in the work force is so unnecessary,” says Tiffani Murray, owner of career consulting firm PersonalityOnAPage.com. “If you have been working for 10-plus years and are now in middle management it is safe to assume that you either had a good GPA or have made up for it through hands-on work.”
6. An unprofessional e-mail address: “Don’t include an overly personalized e-mail address such as ‘email@example.com‘ or ‘firstname.lastname@example.org,’ ” Murray advises. “This can make recruiters take your resumé less seriously.”
7. Marital or family status: Besides being irrelevant, including this information on your resumé can actually make an employer uncomfortable, because it is illegal for them to take such information into account. “It is none of the employer’s business and it is illegal for an interviewer to ask you about your marital status or the number of or ages of your children during your interview (so why include it on your resumé?)” Abboud says.
8. Your references: “These are personal to you and you should control when an employer calls them,” Lions says. “Don’t give me your power.” There is also no need to specify that “references are available upon request.”
9. Activities with religious or political affiliations: These topics are polarizing, and while recruiters shouldn’t take them into account, it’s better to be on the safe side.
10. Your picture: This isn’t the Miss America pageant. Employers aren’t going to be more inclined to hire you because you included a glamour shot. In fact, they may even be more prone to not contact you. “Please don’t include a picture,” Lions says. “If I want to see what you look like, I can find it on LinkedIn.”
Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz.