Just like fashions change, so do resumes. And while making a fashion faux pas is generally not the end of the world (bell bottoms, anyone?), not keeping up on resume changes can land your resume in the “no, thanks” pile. Including “old school” sections or information on your resume could make it seem like you’re not up to date on much of anything, making you a less desirable candidate.
To help ensure your resume stands out for the great information it contains, here are five things you can (and should) leave off your resume.
1. A career objective
An objective statement used to be at the top of a resume and told an employer what you were looking for in a job. But employers already know your objective: to get a job!
Instead of an objective statement, use a well-written summary of qualifications to introduce employers to your most relevant skills and experiences. Use it to tell them why they need you, rather than why you need them.
2. Unrelated awards, hobbies, and interests
You might think it’s a good idea to include any awards you’ve received or to talk about your hobbies and interests. Mentioning that you collect coins or knit is interesting, but it doesn’t really tell the employer anything about you. Likewise, noting that you’re a pig wrestling champion is unique but probably won’t help you get the job.
Instead of including hobbies or interests that have nothing to do with the job, leave this section out. It’s better to omit something that could make your resume stand out for the wrong reasons.
The exception is if the award, hobby, or interest is relevant to the role. For example, if you’re changing careers from accountant to food blogger, the fact that you’ve won the county fair pie contest for the last three years is relevant to the job, and you could include that information.
3. Too much formatting
Resumes are, as a rule, kind of boring to look at. It’s mostly just words on a page. You might use some bolding, italics, or underlining, but too much formatting could be distracting. To help jazz things up and make your resume stand out, you might think about using fancy fonts or a color other than black to make things interesting. You may even consider including columns and graphics to make your resume visual and easy to understand.
The problem with these “fancy” resumes is that, for starters, most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) that are programmed to read traditionally formatted resumes. And it’s difficult for an ATS to read columns, fancy fonts, and graphs.
Additionally, human recruiters may have a hard time reading overly formatted resumes. They may read your resume on their phone, which makes it hard to see your resume columns or the whole graph.
Instead of a fancy resume, keep it simple. Use a font that’s easy for humans and machines to read, and use formatting sparingly. For example, use only bolding, italics, or underlines, but not all three in the same sentence.
4. Task lists
Listing your tasks and duties for previous positions is part of a resume. But if that’s all you’re doing, you likely won’t “wow” a hiring manager. If nothing else, all you’re doing is copying your job description, which, ironically, isn’t very descriptive.
Instead of telling employers what you did, tell them what you accomplished. What were the overarching results of your day-to-day tasks? Use the STAR method to help employers understand how you did what you did and why it made a difference to your company. This, in turn, will help them understand what goals you can help the company achieve.
5. The basics
Including a skills section on your resume is a great way to quickly highlight your most important and relevant skills. However, saying that you know how to use Windows, Microsoft Office, and email isn’t saying much. These days, employers expect that you have these basic skills and, as such, there’s no reason to mention them.
Instead, highlight the skills that will make you stand out. Knowing how to use a spreadsheet is one thing. But can you set up macros? Run pivot tables? Those are the kinds of skills you should be highlighting.
Your resume is a living, breathing document that helps you keep track of your professional history. It’s good practice to regularly update your resume and keep up with resume trends to help show that you’re informed, current, and aware of what’s in and what’s out.