12 Things You Should Leave Off Your Resume

By Gerald Walsh ©

A resume will never get you the job. Its only purpose is to help you make a good first impression with a prospective employer so they will invite you in for an interview. It makes sense then to invest time to make it as good as possible.

Having said that, employers don’t have time to read every resume carefully and sometimes look for reasons to reject an applicant. Typos, grammatical errors and bad formatting are three clear reasons for putting you in the “reject” pile.

Here is a list of 12 things you should leave off your resume to increase your chance of getting the interview:

1. Where you live

Omit your civic address at the top of resume. It’s highly unlikely any employer is going to be sending you anything by mail and it could introduce the risk of economic profiling or an assumption about the length of your commute. It does make sense, though, to include your city and province (or state). You should also include your preferred email address, cell number and LinkedIn page.

2. A less than professional email address

If you still use an email from your younger years, like or, get rid of it. It’s unprofessional and childish. Getting a new one only takes a few minutes and is free. Or buy your own domain name. For under $10, you can purchase a professional sounding domain name.

3. Sappy, generic objective statements

Yes, wouldn’t everyone like a challenging position at a company that provides a great work-life balance and the opportunity for growth? If you can’t take the time to customize your resume for the specific job you’re applying for, why should the employer bother reading any further?

4. Reason why you left previous jobs

This will inevitably come up during the interview and you should be prepared to discuss it then. If you’re forced to fill in this blank in an online portal, simply list “career advancement” as the reason, unless it was a contract in which case list “contract only.”

5. Lengthy description of your duties and responsibilities

Instead of writing a laundry list of what you did in the job, focus on what makes you stand out. State your accomplishments. Explain how you added value to your company. When doing so, remember to use bullet points which are much easier to read.

6. Salary history

Any discussion about salary is best left until later in the hiring process, usually after you have interviewed at least once with the employer. Salary is very much a process of negotiation and revealing your salary history too early could put you at a disadvantage in the negotiation process.

7. References

Providing references in advance means that the employer could call one of your references before you even know if you want the job. This could be embarrassing especially if your references are connected with your current employer. If an employer is interested in you, they will ask for references later. You can even leave out the standard line “References provided upon request.” Everyone knows that already and saying it is just a waste of space.

8. Political or religious affiliation

Unless you are applying for a job within a political or religious organization, avoid referencing any involvement you might have with these organizations.

9. Jargon and abbreviations

Don’t write anything that might limit the reader’s understanding of your capabilities. For example, don’t say “OH&S Specialist” unless you are absolutely certain your resume will be read by people who are totally familiar with the terminology. Instead, spell it out clearly – Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Specialist– to be safe.

10. Gaps in work history

Explain the gap if you can. If you took a couple years off while your children were young, state this. If you were between jobs for a bit, fill in this gap with volunteer or consulting work.

11. Irritating buzzwords

Words like “mission-critical,” “traction,” “synergies,” and “foster” are simply annoying as they have no real meaning. Under no circumstances should they find their way into your resume, cover letter, or interview.

12. Lies, exaggerations and embellishments

Pretty much everything you state on your resume can be verified. If you are hired and it is later discovered that you were deliberately untruthful on your resume, you could be fired “for cause,” which usually means you receive no notice or severance pay.

Question: Take a careful look at your resume. What can you remove right now that may be hurting you?

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and writer. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn