1) Your age, date of birth, or anything that might give away your age. Did you graduate from high school in 1967? College in 1972? Or does your e-mail address include the year you were born, as in “firstname.lastname@example.org”? Leave the dates off of your education and get another e-mail address! Age discrimination is illegal and companies take pains to avoid the appearance of discriminating against applicants based on age. While you need to include dates with your jobs, it’s unusual to go back more than ten or fifteen, and at most twenty years. The dates of your education, on the other hand, are optional, and it’s a good rule of thumb to leave them off if you graduated more than ten years ago.
2) Personal information, including your marital status, information about your children, your age, weight, political affiliation, or your hobbies.
3) Information about any disabilities you may have, unless it relates to the position for which you’re applying. For example, if you have a vision impairment and are looking to work with people who are visually impaired, you might want to include that information, if not in the resume, then in the cover letter. Otherwise, leave it off.
4) Religious affiliation, unless you are applying for a position within a religious organization. Sad to say, anti-religious bias is growing by leaps and bounds these days. So unless it’s relevant to the position for which you are applying, you might want to consider leaving it off.
5) Your weaknesses. Yes, I’ve actually seen resumes which included a list of weaknesses, apparently to balance their list of strengths. Don’t go there! Would you sell a new product by highlighting its weaknesses? Focus on what you can do FOR the employer.
6) Anything – and I do mean anything – that is even remotely negative about your previous employer, boss, or co-workers. Would you hire someone who was bad-mouthing the last people they worked for?
7) A photograph (unless you are a model or entertainer). A photograph raises the question of bias based on appearance, race, or ethnicity, and this can make a prospective employer VERY nervous. I have had dozens of executives tell me they don’t even look at resumes that include a photograph. Even if you’re young and gorgeous, leave the photograph off. It is likely to do you more harm than good.
When in doubt, ask yourself: “What does this have to do with my ability to do the job for which I’m applying?” If the answer is “absolutely nothing,” it’s a good bet that it doesn’t belong on your resume.
~ Anne Follis, CPRW
© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.
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