- Don’t Lie. Being anything less than open & truthful on your resume is always a bad idea & never turns out well.
Instead, carefully check facts, dates, and details; be prepared to give an honest simple answer regarding any gaps in employment or less-than-perfect work history.
- Don’t list personal information. Your resume is NOT the place to share your physical address, social security number, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliations, marital status, age, whether you have children, non-professional social media or email accounts, dates of graduation/ education/ certification, jobs older than 10-12 years, non-professional recognitions such as homecoming princess nominations, sorority/ fraternity membership, or physical characteristics. Photos are never part of your resume unless you are a model or actor.
Instead, keep it strictly professional (directly tied to work you have been paid to do) to help protect yourself in 3 ways: by guarding your privacy/ identity (do not assume a potential identity thief cannot access your resume!); by shielding you from potential discrimination & ageism; and by letting your job related qualities shine—keeping you from appearing frivolous.
- Don’t include objectives, especially bizarre / extreme ones, or other “frills.” Everyone is clear on the fact that submitting your resume means your objective is to land the job. Wracking your brain & abusing your thesaurus to craft the perfect objective is a waste of time, as is embellishing your resume with unusual fonts, ink colors, endless descriptions, bright or scented paper. These tactics will draw the wrong kind of attention (just like the class clown used to).
Instead, skip the objective altogether (unless it is a required element on a company-specific resume form—even then keep it short, simple, honest, & specific to the position you want), and print your resume on one sheet of heavy, professional, white or off-white paper.
- Don’t make grammatical & spelling errors or use obscure words. No hiring manager will take applicants more seriously than they take themselves. Neglecting correct spelling and usage on a resume makes you appear sloppy and careless. Overdressing your resume in $10 words you would never use in conversation does not look any better.
Instead, double and triple check word by word for correct grammar, spelling, and consistent usage. Try not to overstretch—use language you are comfortable with in everyday speech for describing your work & education history.
- Don’t end with “References upon request”… the word “References” at all. Telling your prospective employer that you will provide a list of references upon request is implied: if you want the job, and they require references, of course, you will provide them. Including your references’ contact information at the end of your resume is potentially harmful—just as you wouldn’t compromise your own contact info, don’t risk anyone else’s! Both practices waste precious resume real estate, too—you only have so much space, so don’t waste a single line!
Instead, when updating your resume, update your reference list, too. This is a good time to catch up with former colleagues, and ask if they will give you a good reference for your new job search. But always make it a separate document, and only share it at the request of your hiring manager.
For more great resume writing tips, stop by Antlers Public Library & check out our online resume resources & these books:
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume by Susan Ireland
Resumes for Dummies by Joyce Lain Kennedy
How to Write Better Resumes by Adele Lewis
What Color is Your Parachute? for Teens by Richard Nelson Bolles and Carol Christen