[Resume Tips] What To Include & Exclude

[Resume Tips] What To Include & Exclude

July 16, 2018

According to an eye-tracking study conducted by The Ladders, you have about six seconds to make a good first impression. Recruitment professionals spend about that much time glancing at your resume to make the initial “fit/no-fit” decision. Moreover, 80 percent of the time is spent on gazing at your name, current title and company, previous titles and companies, previous position start and end dates, current position start and end dates and education.

For the most impactful resume, here is what you should include – and exclude – from your resume:

Contact Details


– your contact information.  After all, you want them to call you, right? A phone number and email address give the hiring manager a choice. You can use a city and state in lieu of your home address.


– your work email. Yikes! That is not an email you want your (current) boss to look at.

Employment History 


– the official names of the companies you worked at with the respective official job titles


– descriptions of the companies for which you worked. Even if the hiring manager has not heard of it, they can look it up.

Career/Volunteer Overview


– a professional summary that highlights your strengths

– internships and volunteering experience that may be relevant to your prospective job through their mission or duties

– keywords that pertain to the position for which you are applying. Weave these into your professional summary and descriptions of the work you did at each previous job


– an objective statement that tells the hiring manager what they know already. Read: “I am interested in an entry-level marketing position at your firm.”

– jobs that have nothing to do with your new career focus. There is no need to tell the hiring manager you were a waitress at Applebee’s seven years ago while you were going to college if you have more relevant experience.

– industry-specific jargon from a previous role that the new hiring manager would not understand. Or, even worse, company-specific jargon.

List of Key Skills and Accomplishments 


– skills, including technical aptitudes, that are helpful to the position for which you are applying

– performance-related, quantifiable accomplishments. If you increased sales in your department by 40 percent, it should be the top bullet for that job.


– obvious skills, like “proficiency in using a computer.” If the job requires the use of technology, you are expected to know your way around a Mac or PC. Moreover, do not add soft skills to the skills section of your resume. Save that for the professional summary or cover letter.

– too many superfluous adjectives to describe your abilities. Facts, like accomplishments, speak louder than opinions.

Personal Attributes


– relevant hobbies and interests that complement your career choice. For example, if you are going after a graphic design job and you are also an amateur photographer, that may be worthwhile to list.

– personal information that is consistent across your digital profiles. If you go by your first name, middle initial and last name on LinkedIn and Twitter, format it the same way on your resume.


– extracurriculars that have nothing to do with your work. If you are seeking a job as a medical professional at a hospital and you like to play wedding disc jockey on the weekend, leave it off your resume.

– race, religion and sexual orientation. A study conducted by UConn a few years ago showed a significantly lower response rate to resumes that referenced religious affiliations. Do not get too personal. Additionally, on that note, nothing about your marital status, children or social security number should be on your resume.

Educational Qualifications


– your education credentials in an education section of your resume. But, if your work experience is more important, put your education section further down on the page.


– dates of your education, unless you are a recent grad (when it is more than 10 to 15 years ago, leave it off). You can also forgo general degree designations after your name, like B.A. or M.S., if it is in the education section. Only use these if they are specific and relevant, like MBA or RN.

Content and Organization 


– links to your public social media profiles that have a professional photo and appropriate career-related content

– a line for every position, even if was with the same company. In other words, be proud of your three internal promotions and explain how the responsibilities changed.

– some formatting elements that make your resume attractive, like bolding, font size and simple line art

– the month and year you started and ended each position listed on your resume (no need to include the exact date)

– a contact information section, professional summary section, education section, skills section and work experience section


– a photo with your resume. It is just not necessary and can open you up for unintentional bias.

– salary requirements – or previous salary information. Save this discussion for the screening conversation or interview.

– headers, footers, charts or tables. These formatting elements can get scrambled up when processed through an applicant tracking system (ATS).

– explanations of gaps in your resume that are due to personal reasons, such as traveling the world or raising children. You do not need to address them directly. It may come up in the interview, so have an answer ready.

– a reference section. Also, do not say “references are available upon request.” If they want them (they probably will), they will ask.

As you revamp your resume, first create a master copy. However, only use this master copy as a starting point for applying to new positions. To get the best response rate, be sure you are tailoring it based on the prospective job description.


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