10 Things You Should NOT Put on Your Resume

Sandy Writtenhouse 08-09-2017

A resume is probably one of the most important documents you will ever create. And for this reason, many hire a professional to do the work for them. But if you prefer to create your own resume 15 Free Creative Resume Templates for Photoshop and Illustrator A stunning application can be the first step in landing your dream job. We have compiled the best free professional resume templates for Photoshop and Illustrator. Some packages include cover letter and business card templates. Read More , there are definite do’s and don’ts.


As a former department manager, I had my share of resumes for possible employees cross my desk. And to be honest, some of them simply made me scratch my head. One could have turned out to be a star employee, but due to the issues with their resume, they never had the chance. Remember, a resume is the first glimpse of you that a potential employer sees.

When you work on your resume, the do’s are pretty obvious. You want to include education, relevant experience, and certifications. What is not obvious are the don’ts with resume creation that I have seen many times. For that reason, we are here to help. This list of items should not be included on your resume and we will tell you why.

1. Objective or Summary

While back in the day, an objective or summary at the top of your resume was the norm, it isn’t anymore. If you are applying for a position, your potential employer already knows that you want the job — and most often they will skip right over your objective.

resume executive summary
Image Credit: Neomaster via

The only time that you may want to include a summary is ifyou are entering a completely new industry. For instance, if you have worked in hospitality for years, recently obtained a degree, and are now seeking a career in technology How to Prepare Yourself for a Programming Interview The best advice for programming interviews. Any interview can be daunting. Do you know enough to pass? Will your solutions be good enough? What if you choke? Apply these five tips. Read More , a brief summary is acceptable.


2. Irrelevant or Ancient Job Experience

Time gaps on a resume can often raise a red flag to employers. However, you do not have to list every job you have had from the time you were 16 years old, unless, of course, you are now 18. So what do you do if you have been in the workforce for decades? offers this advice:

“In general, your most recent jobs are more important in your resume than your long-ago jobs are.

If you can fit your most recent six jobs on your two-page resume, then your seventh-most-recent and earlier jobs will drop off.”

The article also suggests that if you feel that an ancient experience is essential to your resume, simply include the job title. Just be sure to ask yourself if it is relevant to the position you are seeking now.

3. Photographs or Pictures

If the position you are applying for is a modeling job, then a photograph is likely expected. But for other types of jobs, your resume needs to highlight pertinent skills and experience, not your looks.


no photos please
Image Credit: Natasa Adzic via

In addition to eliminating photographs from your resume, you should avoid other pictures as well. You may think it enhances your resume to have a professional-looking, industry-related symbol at the top. However, this is a mistake. Keep your resume clean and save your photos and designs for your portfolio.

4. Hobbies or Interests

You may love to spend your free time golfing, fishing, playing sports, or reading books, but does it matter to a potential employer? If the position you are applying for has something to do with one of your hobbies or interests, then including it could help. If not, leave it off.

Business Insider says this about hobbies on your resume:


“Nobody cares.

If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s a waste of space and a waste of the company’s time.”

5. References or Lines Referring to Them

In the past, you may have been told to include references on your resume. You might then have been told to include a line like “References Available Upon Request” instead. However, you should really include neither.

business man on a call
Image Credit: Andreas Saldavs via

If an employer wants professional references, they will ask you. This gives you the opportunity to contact your references first. Including that line referring to references is just as much a waste of space as having a reference itself.

6. Personal or Private Information

Your age, race, gender, religion, marital status, or political affiliations have no place on your resume. Potential employers are looking at your fit for the job. This is based on your skills, knowledge, and experience, not your personal details.


And while many may find this obvious, never include your driver’s license number, banking numbers, or social security number (which I have actually seen on resumes before). If you land the job, you will have to provide certain private details like these numbers. But you do not have the job yet, so protecting your privacy is key.

As points out, scammers are everywhere:

“In the bogus job ad they will tell you to hand over personal information, like your credit card number (for instance, to pre-pay for a mandatory drug screen or background check if they are interested in hiring you).”

Remember to keep your personal and private information to yourself and off your resume.

7. College Graduation Dates

Unless you are a recent college graduate entering the workforce, do not include graduation dates. The fact that you obtained your degree is what matters, not when you earned it. Plus, this can give away your age, which as we said above, should not be on your resume.

graduation date and cap
Image Credit: Zimmytws via

You should include the degrees you obtained, certificates you earned, and institutions you attended, but the graduation dates can be left off.

8. Flat-Out Lies

We all know how competitive it is out there. Finding a job, landing an interview Supercharge Your Next Job Interview with These 11 Free Tools It takes skill to ace an interview. There are plenty of apps that will assist you with the task of supercharging your job interview skills. Let's look at each step of the interview process. Read More , and actually getting that job is a tough process. When you add in how many other candidates you are up against, you may be tempted to gain an edge with some exaggerations. However, deliberate lies will not get you far.

An article from Monster on this topic states:

“, a provider of on-demand employment background screening, found that 34 percent of job applicants lie on resumes.”

Now, 34 percent may or may not seem high to you. However, do you want to be part of that number? Tell the truth, keep it real, and get that job based on what you can do, not what you cannot do.

9. Ineffective Formatting

Almost as important as what your resume says is how it looks. No potential employer wants to view a jumbled mess with no consistency when they see your resume. And there really is no reason for it. You can use online tools and sites 5 Top Resume Builder Sites to Create Your Resume Online Using one of these online resume builders, you can create a professional resume, CV, or bio-data in minutes for your job search. Read More , templates in Microsoft Word, or even create your own to make it stand out How to Create a Resume Template with Microsoft Word Your resume could be the difference between interviewing for the job of your dreams or never hearing back from the employer — use these tips to make sure it's the best it can be. Read More .

Keep in mind that today’s employers may also view your resume on their mobile devices, so check out these tips 4 Resume Formatting Tips to Make Your CV Mobile Friendly Hiring managers and recruiters use their mobile phones for everything. And that includes reading your résumé. Use our formatting tips to grab their attention and you might get the job! Read More to make your resume more mobile friendly.

10. Misspellings or Grammar Errors

Review and reread, use a spelling and grammar check tool, and then review and reread again. There is nothing worse than reading a professional resume full of misspellings and grammar errors.

Image Credit: BeeBright via

Not everyone can be an expert when it comes to spelling and grammar. But these days, you can use tools like Grammarly or built-in features such as Microsoft Word’s spell check. And, that is just the starting point. After you review it, have a friend or family member look it over — they might just see a mistake you missed.

Some Are Obvious, Others Are Not

Many of you may read this and think that these are blatantly obvious resume no-no’s. But surprisingly, they are not. For those creating their first resume, re-entering the workforce after many years, or just altogether unsure, this list can help.

And for more help, check out these tips for getting back on track with your job search 5 Crucial Tips to Get Your Job Search Back on Track Sometimes your job search just doesn't go well. These tips will help you continue your job hunting when everything sucks. Read More if you’re struggling and how to structure your cover letter and resume when sending in an email How to Structure a Cover Letter and Resume When Sending via Email Put your best foot forward in your job search. Structure your resume and cover letter for an email application with these tips. Read More .

Image Credits: Neomaster/Shutterstock

Related topics: Careers, Job Searching, Resume, Writing Tips.

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  1. Aaron
    October 12, 2017 at 1:16 am

    I think it is funny that the author has no HR experience or seemingly at least, extensive hiring experience. However, what made me actually question her qualifications is her degrees, she lists a two year degree in a short bio (that is a huge resume and even summary no-no if you have a 4 year degree; and in the fields that only need two year degrees, certifications tend to be what is important anyway). Furthermore, if you feel the need to list a two year degree, it makes me think your 4 year degree was from a degree-mill.

  2. Adam
    September 26, 2017 at 5:07 am

    The exception to #1 is when you are at a school job fair. It is helpful to some employers to know if you are looking for part time work, full time work, or an internship.
    The exception to #7 is when you are still in school and do not have a degree yet.

  3. Sjerp
    September 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    This article is pretending that our world is righteous and meritocratic. Which most obviously is not the case. It's not taking the workers perspective at all - this is the perspective of somebody who wants to process as much resumés as possible. Also this article has a global pretence, while there are obviously incredible cultural differences in the world but also within the US itself.

    Indeed this is the worst article I've read about writing resumés ever. Bosses are often bastards, mysogenic, racist, otherwise biased or all of the above. Workers often need to fight their way in so a flatout machine feed does not suffice because they do need to trick the reader and that's 100% ok. And also it does matter with what kind of place you you're dealing with: a grocery store that you've frequented since childhood or a big ass company!

    So I hope nobody follows this advise and that the MUO editorial board is more critical of the politics of 'neutral' articles .

    • KwaK
      September 11, 2017 at 8:51 am

      At the same time, you have to admit that in most cases it's not going to be the boss surfing through that pile of CV's - it's going to some recruitment agency or the HR department ... or at the very least the secretary or an intern. And it's always possible to mention or expand on the summarized points in your CV during the interview if needed. Personally, I've never understood the collective arbitrary need to write self-summaries and hobbies, granted, it depends on the job position - may be something needed for someone working with people, but I always felt it was unnecessary.

      • sjerp
        September 11, 2017 at 9:36 am

        Well I don't know about 'most' cases; where I live most people work at companies where the bosses do often do this themselves (cultural differences?); but I don't have statistics and can't say anything about the relative weight between 1) doing it themselves 2) having someone in the company do it 3) outsourcing it.

        Anyway these people you're talking about are proxies for bosses. They're paid to think like the boss. And talking about recruitment agencies - they try to outdo bosses when it comes to bias! That's because succesfull job placements are their business; productive workers is not their business. So they have a commercial incentive to pick and forward those who fit preconceptions of the right worker because they have higher chance: thus they have a incentive to strenghen bias, outdoing bosses.

        So I believe your comment underwrites my point :)

        • dragonmouth
          September 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm

          The article gives advice on resumes submitted to American companies. Based on your comments, it seems that you do not live and work in the United States.

          " And talking about recruitment agencies - they try to outdo bosses when it comes to bias!"
          That is not in their best interest. In the United States the anti-discrimination in hiring laws would cause a lot of trouble for such recruiters.

          "succesfull job placements are their business"
          Correct! 'Successful' means someone who not only is hired but who stays for a while. Businesses do not want to waste money and time on workers who won't do the job.

          "they have a commercial incentive to pick and forward those who fit preconceptions of the right worker "
          Recruiters do not get paid for providing 'warm bodies'. They get paid for providing candidates who are capable of doing the required work.

    • Gazoo
      September 17, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Agree. There is an unrealistic "PC" quality about this that won't work in the real world. What the author is really saying is that he's a much better human being than everyone else (until such time when life makes him eat his own words over and over again).

      Most people looking for work will play their strengths and even "tweak" items. If an employee knows in advance that the recruiter or boss is a HUGE baseball fan, they'll even find a way to stick that in a resume. This is Life 101.

  4. Bob
    September 8, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Hi, but age is important for employer!

    • dragonmouth
      September 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Why?! So (s)he can dismiss my resume right away because (s)he deems me too young or too old? If I am not supposed to include race or religion, why should I include age?

      I hope your question is tongue in cheek.

      • KwaK
        September 11, 2017 at 8:36 am

        Depends on the field you work in - applying for an entry level desk-job at a bank for form processing might not require you to be "battle-tested" but applying for a infrastructure IT Systems engineer position, apart from vast theoretical knowledge (you can't just "wing it" and see what happens - this is how you end up with service outages and data leaks), does require you to have field experience ... and you can't accumulate 5 years worth of experience in 1.

        • dragonmouth
          September 11, 2017 at 11:52 am

          Do not confuse 'age' with 'experience'. The only things 'age' guarantees is gray hair. Age does not guarantee or even imply suitability for a particular position. In your example, a 60 year old with 30 years of COBOL programming under his belt will be no more qualified than a 25 year old with just a BS in Computer Science, perhaps even less. The only factor that counts is experience relevant to the position. COBOL is less relevant to a job as a IT Systems Engineer than recent classes in the latest IT technology.