Fourteen Things You Should Never Include in Your Resume

There are some things you should never include in your resume. The following list will prevent you from making these resume blunders.

1)  The Reason You Left the Job

Save this information for the interview. Whether you left the job in order to advance your career, or you were terminated, explanations on paper (or computer screen) have to be far too brief to give a future employer a favorable impression. At an interview, you are far more likely to be able to place a good spin on even an unpleasant termination.

2) References

Never list your references on the resume. In fact, most employers don't even want to see "References Available on Request" anymore. Everyone knows that they are. You should prepare a separate reference sheet and have it ready for your interview.

3) Certain Personal Information

The only personal information you should include on your resume is the address where you receive mail, phone and fax numbers and your email. Never include your social security number (an employee could steal it). Information about your physical appearance or health just isn’t appropriate. While discrimination based on age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and religion is illegal, details pertaining to such should be avoided unless they are directly relevant to the job you're applying for.  If the information is directly relevant (i.e. an ordained minister searching for another ministry), include it only if you are certain the information will not create bias.

4) High School If You Graduated From Any Other Program

If you have a college degree or advanced certificate, drop the high school information. It's assumed that you must have obtained a GED or high school diploma in order to progress on to college coursework.

5) Salary Information

Not only does this information clutter up a resume, it could eliminate you from consideration if deemed too high or too low for the position you're seeking. Save salary discussions until the interview. If the job posting asks you to provide an expected salary, include this information in your cover letter. However, if possible, simply write "competitive" or "negotiable" instead of assigning a dollar figure.

6) Anything That Is False

Make your resume as accurate as possible. Inconsistencies between your resume and your interview could cost you a job.

7) Exact Dates

Using exact dates clutters up a resume. Unless you are asked to provide exact dates (usually a feature only seen on online fill-in forms) use months and years. Employment dates expressed in years only is also acceptable and beneficial if you have short gaps in employment.

8) The Date You Prepared the Resume

Not only is this unnecessary information, it dates your resume. You want a potential employer to feel like you have focused your resume on them specifically. If you date your resume, it could give away the fact that you're really using a resume you've sent to hundreds of other employers.

9) Professional Jargon

Your resume may be screened by someone in human resources who has no idea what you are talking about. Sure, you might think your resume is going to be read by someone in the know, but why take chances? At the same time, if the job posting uses certain industry-specific acronyms, mirror the company's lead. This will show your sensitivity to the company's style and increase the likelihood that keywords from your resume will match keywords of the job posting.

10) Fancy Paper

Stick with a quality bond paper in either plain white or ivory. Only artists can get away with other colors, and even they have to remember that resumes are often photocopied. Nothing will be worse for making that first impression than a photocopied resume that doesn't have a clean, organized impact.

11) Photographs

Unless you're applying for a position as a model, actor or television news anchor, don't include a photograph of yourself in your resume. The practice of including a photograph is dated, requires the use of prime resume real estate and simply is not applicable.

12) Availability

Save the subject of availability for the interview. Do not include dates of availability on your resume.

13) Mandates or Demands

Never make mandates or demands on your resume. You're selling yourself, not buying an employer. Demands and requests should be saved for the negotiation process only after an offer is made. Your resume should demonstrate what you are able to provide, not what you want an employer to provide to you.

14) The Pronouns "I" or "Me"

Never state, "I accomplished …" Just say, "Accomplished …" This lets the person reading the resume mentally supply "She accomplished …" or "He accomplished …" It also prevents your resume from looking like a "brag sheet."