Don’t Include These Things On Your Résumé


When it comes to writing a résumé, what you leave out matters just as much as what you choose to highlight. Deleting the following can boost your chances of landing an interview and, hopefully, a job:

Goals and Objectives

The biggest challenge in writing a résumé is making the most of relatively limited space. Even for people at the beginning of their careers, it can prove difficult to condense accomplishments and experience down to an efficient number of bullet-points, while still including a list of your skills. Like the crew of an overloaded ship in a rough storm, you should always be looking for anything on your résumé that you can chuck overboard with relatively little complaint. A prime candidate: the goals and objectives section.

Why that section? It fits better as part of your cover letter. Your résumé is the place to list what you’ve done, not describe why you want a job, or what you’re doing with your professional life.

Images or Photos

Some tech pros like to liven their résumé up with graphics and images. They might insert their portrait beside their name and address at the top, for example, or create a cool design that runs along the left and right margins. While creativity is a desirable trait in any job candidate, HR staffers and recruiters tend to find such visual efforts distracting. Worse, something like a portrait takes up valuable space that could be reserved for worthier uses (i.e., more text).

Salary Ranges and Benefits

The time to talk salary is after your prospective company makes an offer; same with benefits. Despite that sage advice, some tech pros still list the salaries they earned at their previous positions, and sometimes even put their desired salary range at the top of their résumés; either of those actions places them at a disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate with a new employer.

Extracurricular Activity

Listing your skills on a résumé is vital. Listing what you like to do for fun, not quite so much. You’ll have lots of time in the actual job interview to explain your love of movies or Ultimate Frisbee; but when writing your résumé, focus on your hard skills and accomplishments.

17 Responses to “Don’t Include These Things On Your Résumé”

  1. Patricia

    It really depends on what industry you are seeking work in. I would hate for people to take this article too seriously. Sure, if you’re applying to be an accountant at a law firm, tailor your resume to your audience.

    My resume includes hard skills but also includes a little “about me” blurb which a lot of employers have responded very postively to. I think it’s important to humanize yourself and stand out from other candidates. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people who have the same skill-sets that you have.

  2. Mark Holdings

    The suggestions on what not to include in a resume has a flaw. Though i would agree that putting past salaries and expected salaries is a bad idea, the companies i have applied to (30+)require you to fill out their online application which asks for this very same information. It is set up so you can’t leave these areas blank and it doesn’t allow you to write “negotiable” in the box. I am sure this is done so that when the info is put through their Vetting software program, it knocks out candidates that don’t match what they want to spend, even if a candidate is best for the job. There is no longer a human side to applying for a job.

  3. Charlene

    I also agree with Patricia. Many times listing a hobby or outside interest indicates the employee values work/life balance. Most employers will be impressed by a list of skills and experience however, for other employers additional information about a candidate’s outside activities may make him/her stand out from the crowd. Today, employers also realize all work and no play sometimes makes for an unhappy and stressed out employee!

  4. My daughter wanted her resume to stand out in a job search in the competitive pro sports industry. She was just out of college with some internship experience.

    In the section detailing experience, she put small logos of the organizations she worked: a recognized university logo, a recognized bowl game logo, a recognized major market sports TV network logo – she landed a job in the NHL and the HR people told her that her resume stood out in a great way. She received several positive comments specifically about the visual from two major TV networks and sports franchises who gave her feedback on her resume during the job search. When she was networking and sending her resume around, she heard from a few that she shouldn’t add the logos, but they weren’t the HR people in her target market so she left it.

    Not saying that’s the reason she got the job, but it helped give a positive image to the target pro sports audience.

  5. Bhorsoft

    Disagree a bit on extracurricular activities. Radical surf dude not a good thing. On a non-profit board good thing. Extracurricular activities that show of the use of relevant skills, especially “soft” skills can help show that you are a more rounded person.

  6. The author is simply yet another person with no real life experience. I am a hiring manager and I want to know what a person enjoys. Yes, interview is the correct place but if I have one interview spot left and two resumes, guess which one I choose?

  7. Seriously folks, this is an article written for, a website that normally caters to tech professionals. Obviously they’re not referring to accountants and marketing professionals when they give resume advice and for people in the tech industry, what matters most is what you can get done. Who you are comes second. Also, since hard skills often take more concentrated effort to obtain and arn’t necessarily taught in traditional work and school areas like soft skills are, they are actually a lot more rare and more in demand because of it making it so there is only a limited need to stand out from the crowd.

  8. Concerned

    Some extracurricular activities I might include in some situations; especially if they translate into a useful skill for that particular job. My rock climbing, rapelling, and spelunking skills once got me an environmental science job that involved taking samples in some hazardous locations.

    I also note what Mark Holdings said. Some employers are real anal retentive control freaks when it comes to salary negotiation; putting salary history AND requirements in required boxes without allowances for “negotiable.” They seem to have the brains of chickens (Buck!…Buck!…Buck!; say it fast and loud three times and you’ll get the idea). Very unprofessional and recruiters are the worst of the lot.

  9. 20-year Hiring manager

    This article is actually pretty spot-on. We are all inclined to use the resume as a way to say everything there is to know about us, but keep in mind the purpose of the resume is to give a hiring manager a REASON TO WANT TO TALK TO YOU. They are interested in finding someone to do the job; first and foremost. Also, know this because it’s true… hiring managers will spend 30 seconds on your resume before they move on to the next one. If, in the first half of the first page, you don’t give them reason to keep reading and/or pick up the phone to call you for an interview, you have missed your chance. Thanks for your article, Nick!

  10. This might be a male/female type of thing here… some good points made here but for most part agree with author. After reading a thousand resumes you may get a little dismayed by finding out that 44 applicants LOVE American Idol and going to daughters soccer games. Stick to the hard facts as best as possible with rez… ‘ a bit about myself’ is better on cover letter imo.

  11. The best way to get a job, now and in the past, is through contacts from networking. Worrying about what is or is not included on your resume is speculative to the viewers desires at best. Get out there and make contacts that will bring opportunity to you.

    Without this critical ‘in’ searching for a job my resume is near worthless and highly over-rated. If the only way to get a job in your field is via resume then perhaps think outside of the box, network or create your own station in life.

    Resume hiring is dated, mostly a lost leader and so 1980’s when there were actually some good jobs to be landed; today not so much.

  12. Best comment provied by Kent. Right on the spot. The higher the position the more critical is to have good contacts. Without them you got no job only a pretty resume. Get out there and meet people

  13. Yeah its always nice to say “meet people, go make contacts and get out there..” how do you when you’re new to a field with lots of education and few experience to the masses. They do not listen or just say work in a lower paying position and work yourself up the ladder; but the lower jobs do not want you because you are over qualified…..smh life.

  14. Unless things have changed radically, recently, one sure way to have your resume shredded instantly is to put your picture on it. Unless maybe you are an aspiring film actor and thus have to carry around a sheaf of 8×10’s to handout.

    You have to tailor your resume for the task at hand. One kind of task is the single-page resume that you hand-out at the job fairs, and gets scanned quickly by the recruiter there. Another task is when you are responding to a job ad: you need to put in the resume the keywords that are in the job ad, verbatim. The problem with services such as Dice is that it only allows, say, 5 resumes and 5 cover letters to be on file for the job seeker. But in a single day, you may very well apply for 10 (or even more jobs), and that makes it next to impossible to tailor the resume and the cover letter to the specific ad. Suppose you erase some of those slots so that they can be reused for other jobs. How do you know the right ones reached the company on the receiving end? You don’t. The 5 and 5 limit is grossly inadequate.