These 9 Things Must Go from Your Resume – And Fast

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

There are so many things your resume should include, from your contact information and educational background to your work history and any special skills you have. But what about those items you should remove or shouldn't be there in the first place? Make sure your resume doesn't include these nine items if you want to increase your chances of landing interviews and job offers.

1. Your Photo

Unless you're applying for a job that specifically requires a headshot, don't include images on your resume. This could lead to biased decision-making by the hiring manager, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

2. Inappropriate Email Addresses

While it's fine for corresponding with friends, that email address isn't suitable for listing on your resume. Create an email address that consists only of your name or initials, and use it for all job search-related correspondence.

3. Telling Dates

Listing the date you graduated from high school or college makes it easy for hiring managers to calculate your age. This can lead to age discrimination, so it's best to leave graduation dates off your resume.

4. Fabricated Details

Never lie on your resume. Whether you're tempted to fudge employment dates or list a degree that you didn't finish, fight the desire. A simple background check by the hiring manager can uncover your lie.

5. Employment Gaps

It's totally acceptable to take a few months off between jobs, but it doesn't always paint the best picture on your resume. Fill in the gaps with an explanation of how you were productive during that time period. List training courses you took or volunteer activities you completed.

6. Cliché Phrases

If there are certain buzzwords you feel compelled to include on your resume, give them a second thought. Cliché terms like "detail-oriented," "team player" and "self-motivated" are overused. Replace these words with quantitative proof of your achievements.

7. Too Much Information

It's best to limit your resume to a single page. Include only the most relevant details. Use bullet points to sum up your significant accomplishments and impressive skills.

8. Fancy Formatting

Don't try to impress the hiring manager with bold graphics, complicated layouts, funky fonts and crazy colors. Your resume should be clean, professional and easy to read. Remember that it may be scanned by a computer before it even reaches the hiring manager's desk.

9. Errors

Your resume should be absolutely flawless before you put it in the mail. Review it many times, looking for grammatical issues, spelling errors and typos. Ask a trusted friend or family member to proofread your resume to get a fresh perspective.

Your resume is the key to convincing a hiring manager that you deserve a shot at an interview. It's important to strike the perfect balance, including just what you need and nothing that you don't. Review your resume for these nine things. If you find any, get rid of them.

Photo courtesy of ningmilo at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Jamie S.
    Jamie S.


  • Angela R.
    Angela R.

    What the advice for me?

  • Janelle Myers
    Janelle Myers

    Excellent column! Thanks so much!


    Most online applications require that you give date of high school graduation or date of professional degree. Without these your application will not be submitted.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Michael G thanks for your comment. You could try a chart but make it very simplistic so that it can be picked up by the applicant tracking software. The problem you may encounter using a chart is that some systems will not be able to read it and your resume will appear garbled or unreadable. In that case it would just be discarded. You could include a Skills section and just list it out, i.e.: Microsoft Word, Advanced, 20 years: SQL Server, Intermediate, 2 years and so on. That way you would get your point across and the ATS would be able to read it.


    Thank you for the info a lot of it makes sense. How do you feel about a chart or graph simply describing which programs someone has used and for how long they used them?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Peter M thanks for your comment. So very true. They don't need your references until after the interview, actually. I have found that, if they are truly interested, they will ask for those references after the interview. That way you can give them heads up who is going to be reaching out to them. Thanks ever so much for this pointer!

  • Peter M.
    Peter M.

    Also, any company wanting you to give them your references before you even have spoken with them should be avoided. You do not want your references being pestered by companies not even serious about meeting with you.

  • Sandy M.
    Sandy M.

    Thanks for the pointers

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Jon Evans - using adjectives isn't all bad - as long as they are being used as a sort of embellishment. I wouldn't use a ton of them but sometimes we need that adjective to add meaning. @E.C. thanks for the warning. This is not the newest scam. It's been around since the first job was posted on the Internet - back in the 90's. The difference is that now it's a more sophisticated scam and sometimes it's hard to know if it's true or not. It always pays to do a little bit of detective work to find out if the job posting is real. You could even call the company in question and ask if they posted the job. My daughter and I got caught in one of the more sophisticated scams. When we realized that something wasn't right, we contacted the company in Japan and gave them every bit of info we had. They proceeded with legal action against the scammer. So truly - always do your due diligence on a job and company before you submit your resume. And NEVER give your SSN until you are sitting with an HR person and they are maybe going to complete a background check on you as part of the hiring process. Otherwise - don't give it out - not even the last four digits. All the best.


    I have always excluded adjectives from my resume because not only did I believe that they fell under the ill advised "cliché" category, I BELIEVED THAT ADJECTIVES AND EMBELLISHMENT OF A RESUME ARE ONE IN THE SAME!

  • E. C.
    E. C.

    Be aware of fraud job postings from scam artists that use reputable HR names and companies I recently got scammed so never give Social number even if you think you are working g with HR make sure you get to talk and meet with them . It’s the newest scam!

  • Carolyn Madeira
    Carolyn Madeira

    Love it!!!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Michael Salantai if a site is asking for your SSN, move on. They already know that it's not legal to ask for that so it would concern me that it's a scam site. NEVER give your SSN unless you have already received a valid offer and are working with HR to get you started. HS grad date is a different story. They can legally ask for that and you don't have a choice but to respond. @David C. adding or not adding a photo is a hotly contested debate from both sides. It's up to you whether you add your photo or not. Me, personally, I never add a photo to my resume. In addition, if you have so many great accomplishments that have to do with the job for which you are applying, then add them - even if your resume extends beyond the requisite one page. But only add them if they are really current. Typically we only see the past 10 years on a candidate's resume. Technology has advanced so quickly that anything 10 years or older is probably obsolete anyhow. Hope that helps. All the best.


    Some employers actually want an SSN and a High School graduation date. I just give my last 4. Also some of the apps cant be completed without all the telling information. I dont think this is even legal.

  • David C.
    David C.

    Well I guess not putting a pic with the resume is ok, but what about all the sites that require a pic like linkedin?

  • David C.
    David C.

    Thanks, but what happens when literally you have so many great accomplishments that it takes two or three pages?

  • Jennifer C.
    Jennifer C.

    Great information! Thanks for sharing

  • Amitabha B.
    Amitabha B.

    Thanks for sharing

  • Steven  Osowski
    Steven Osowski

    Thank you for sharing!

  • You Might Also Be Interested In

Jobs to Watch