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Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

What not to put on a resume: 8 of the most common mistakes to avoid

8 min read
What not to put on a resume: 8 of the most common mistakes to avoid
Artwork by:Katya Simacheva
Does your application need a refresh? Learning what not to put on a resume is the answer. Ditch these things to instantly upgrade your application!

You have seven seconds to hook a recruiter’s attention — use the time wisely. Should they see something they don’t like, your resume will swiftly end up in the “no” pile. Just like that, your job opportunity has vanished into thin air. Learning what not to put on a resume will allow you to avoid this pitfall. We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we will help you: 

  • Identify which elements should not be included in a resume
  • Make your resume stand out from the crowd for the right reasons
  • Expert tips on how to land your next job interview.

What should not be included on a resume?

You’re ready to start applying for jobs and the first step is writing your resume. But, when you sit down to get the job done, you may be confused about what you should include. It’s not simply about filling the space for the sake of it. No, you need to ensure that everything you include serves a solid purpose and increases your chances of landing an interview. 

It might sound like a tall order, but we have the inside scoop to help you get started. If you’re ready to get editing, take a look at our list of what not to put on a resume here: 

1. Too much information 

Are you sharing TMI? The recruiter won’t spend more than a matter of seconds looking at your resume. You’re not writing “War and Peace”— you’re applying for a job. When the reader is confronted with a wall of text, they will feel overwhelmed. It’s far easier for them to toss your application away than to try and read all of that information. 

As a golden rule, your resume should neatly fit onto one letter-size document. If you need to include more details, you can stretch that to two pages. However, it pays to be selective about the information that you include. Ask yourself: is it all 100% necessary?

2. Your full address 

Back in the day, it was common to include your full address on your resume. However, times have changed. If you are looking for a job near your home, you may want to include your location, e.g. the closest city. Stick that in your resume header. Should you be willing to relocate and live anywhere for work, you may not want to include any location at all. 

3. Loads of hobbies and interests

You love skydiving, collecting stamps, playing board games, reading sci-fi novels, and walking your dog in the countryside. That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with this job? Only include your hobbies and interests if they are related to the position. For example, if you are applying to be an entertainer and take dance lessons, that may be relevant. Consider what the inclusion of a certain hobby tells the recruiter about you.

4. Irrelevant social media accounts

To include social media accounts or not to include them — that is the question. This one depends on both the job and the type of account. You can likely include a link to your LinkedIn account for most professional roles, so long as it’s a strong profile. 

However, you should only include your other accounts if they are professional or relate directly to the job. For example, if you are a life coach who shares motivational tips on TikTok, you may want to include that on your resume. On the other hand, if you are a social worker, your personal Instagram where you share vacation snaps is not needed.

Expert tip

Is your social media SFW?

70% of recruiters screen candidates by checking out their social media accounts. If your Facebook or Instagram is set to “public,” a potential employer may have a quick look.

To avoid losing out, make sure that your social media accounts are “safe for work” and keep them clean. You may also want to tighten up on those privacy settings. 

5. Spelling or grammatical errors

You can have a pristine resume and be let down by a single typo. You don’t want to give the recruiter any excuse to reject your application. For that reason, you need to proofread your application before you hit that “send” button. Aside from checking it yourself, you can use software, such as Grammarly, to help you catch those niggling errors you may miss.

6. References

Resume real estate is valuable. Don’t waste it with a list of references or the worn-out line “References available upon request.” If the recruiter needs you to provide references, they will ask you to do so. Open up some extra space on the document by cutting this section. 

7. Previous salary details 

You don’t need to share your salary requirements on your resume. Unless specifically asked, you can save that vital information for the interview. 

Equally, you should avoid stating details of your previous salaries. Make the mistake of white-lying about how much you used to earn, and you could end up losing the role at hand. Similarly, whether employers can legally ask you about previous salaries depends on where you live. Save yourself the headache entirely by omitting this information.

8. An unprofessional email address

Email addresses such as “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” won’t do you any favors. You’re applying for a professional role and a childish email will make you stand out for the wrong reasons. When we talk about what not to put on a resume, don’t overlook this one. If you made your email address back when you were a teenager, it’s time to get a new one.

As with so many aspects of life, the simplest approach is the most effective. Create a professional email address with your first, last, and middle name (if needed). You might need to add some variations — such as including initials — to get the address. However, you should steer clear of numbers, funny words, pop culture references, and the like. 

How can I make my resume stand out?

We’ve talked about what not to put on a resume, but how can you make it stand out for the right reasons. Once you’ve successfully side-stepped all of the above issues, there are a few more ways that you can make your application shine. Check out our expert tips here:

Before you apply for a job, ensure that your resume is ticking all of the above boxes. It takes minimal effort to ensure that your application is a cut above the competition. 

Key takeaways

  1. Your professional resume is the first thing that employers see when considering you as an applicant.
  2. First impressions matter. Recruiters only spend around seven seconds reviewing each resume that comes in.
  3. If you want to land that next interview, avoid including the common mistakes we have listed in this guide.
  4. Always be sure to proofread and check your resume before applying for roles.
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