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What you don’t include on your résumé can be as important as what you do include.
There are some things that make a résumé look unprofessional, outdated or distracting to hiring managers, who have only moments to scan the document. Make sure hiring managers see only information that strengthens, rather than weakens, your candidacy. Here are 10 things you should always leave off your résumé:
Résumé objectives never help and often hurt. Not only do they feel antiquated, but they’re all about what you want, rather than what this stage of the hiring process is all about — what the employer wants. Your résumé should be about showing your experience, skills and accomplishments. If you want to talk about how this particular position is the perfect next step in your career, use the cover letter for that.
Short-term jobs raise red flags for hiring managers. They’ll wonder if you were fired, couldn’t do the work or had trouble getting along with co-workers. Plus, it’s unlikely that a few months on a job will show any real accomplishments or advancement. One exception to this rule is if the job was short because it was designed that way, such as contract or political campaign work. Those won’t raise the sorts of questions above, because you’ll have an explanation that doesn’t reflect on you poorly.
A functional format
Many employers hate functional résumés, which list skills and abilities without including a chronological job history. These types of résumés easily mask limited work experience or significant work gaps and make it difficult to understand a candidate’s career progression. For most hiring managers, functional résumés are an immediate red flag that you might be hiding something.
Unless you’re applying for a job as a model or actor, photos of yourself have no place on your résumé. Your appearance has nothing to do with your ability to do the job, so including a photo comes across as naive and unprofessional.
A fancy design
Here’s what most hiring managers think upon seeing a résumé with an unusual design or gaudy color scheme: Does this candidate think his or her skills and achievements won’t speak for themselves? Does this person not understand what employers are looking for? Does he or she put an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substance? (The obvious exception to this rule is if you’re applying for design jobs.)
Your résumé is for experience and accomplishments only. It’s not the place for subjective traits, such as “great leadership skills” or “creative innovator.” Smart employers ignore anything subjective that applicants write about themselves, because so many people’s self-assessments are wildly inaccurate. Your résumé should stick to objective facts.
Any mention of high school
If you’re more than a few years past your high school graduation date, employers don’t care which high school you attended or how much you accomplished while you were there. Keep any mention of high school off your résumé.
If you’re in your 20s, your résumé should only be one page; there’s not enough experience to justify a second one. If you’re older, two pages are fine, but you go over that limit at your own peril. Hiring managers may initially spend only 20 or 30 seconds on your application, so extra pages are either ignored or they dilute the impact of the others. Your résumé should be for highlights, not extensive detail.
Résumés don’t typically include a salary history, so candidates who include it come across as naive. And by sharing that information unbidden, you’ll compromise your negotiating power later.
Any mention of references
Yes, that includes “references are available upon request.” You don’t need to say you’ll provide references if asked, because that goes without saying. You’re not causing any harm by including that somewhat-dated statement, but it takes up space you could use for something else.
This article originally appeared at U.S. News & World Report. Copyright 2014.