A well-written CV can present you as a good contender for a job. It is not just ‘what to include’, but also ‘what not to include’ on your CV that can make or break you chance of winning the job. There are certain things that aren’t meant to be on a CV. If you include them, you are giving the hiring manager/recruiter reasons to knock off your application even before they give it a thorough review.
Basically, any information that shows you are not qualified, not professional, or not motivated enough to do the job should be left out. Let’s see what these pieces of information that you should never include on your CV are.
- Unnecessary personal details
There’s no need to include personal information such as marital status, sexual orientation, age, birth date, photograph, or spiritual beliefs. Such personal details only clutter your document. Moreover, these details don’t affect your ability to the job. Still, they may trigger a negative stereotype in the recruiter/hiring manager, which may hinder your chances of moving to the next step in the hiring process.
Keep out any information that doesn’t tell the hiring manager or recruiter about the skills and competencies you will bring to the job. If you’re unsure whether to include a detail about yourself on your resume, consider if the information is relevant to the job you’re targeting. If it doesn’t demonstrate your qualifications for the role, it doesn’t belong on your resume.
- Unrelated skills and certifications
Leave off any skills you have that are not related in any way to the job. Your resume needs to be as lean as possible. To accomplish that goal, you should only list the information that clearly showcases your potential employee value.
Any unrelated skills and certifications will cloud your core skills and detract or confuse the hiring manager/recruiter.
If you apply to many very different jobs, consider creating a unique resume for each job type. This will help you avoid including skills that are not relevant to a position.
- Generic hobbies
Generic hobbies on resume are a strict ‘NO’.
When to include a hobby? You may include hobbies that either show you have some transferable skills for the job or emphasize your unique personality and help you stand out from the crowd.
At the most, you may include hobbies that are professionally relevant. For example, if you are applying for the job of a writer or editor, an interest in blog writing; or if you are applying for the job as a digital marketer an interest in photography, graphic designing or visual arts.
The basic premise is that if you are putting any hobbies in your resume, they must show an interest or devotion to the job that you are applying to get.
Generic hobbies like reading, watching Netflix, or watching sports are of no value because they neither demonstrate your personality nor allow your potential employer to see the type of person you are. Instead, these low productivity activities show you lazy.
Are there are any hobbies that you can include on your resume?
Yes. If you have a unique hobby that demonstrates a specific competency, you must include it on your resume.
For example, if you compete in team sports (like football, basketball), it tells the hiring manager that you are a team player, competitive and disciplined.
Some other hobbies that you can include on your resume are:
- Playing an instrument because it shows your willingness to learn, dedication and focus.
- If you are applying for a job in the creative industry, photography is a great hobby to include. It shows your sense of aesthetics.
- Fluency in a foreign or regional language also shows a strong depth of knowledge, ability to learn, and respect for diversity.
- Do you volunteer to help out in your local area or take part in community initiatives? Mention it on your resume. It shows your ability to work for the larger good. Plus, volunteering activities also help foster skills like communication, customer service, budgeting, and empathy that are useful in jobs.
Does the bottom line in your resume outline references and their contact information? Or, have you added that great testimonial from a previous employer, peer, or customer?
If yes, delete it immediately. You must be thinking that these people (your references) can back up everything you mention on your resume, or the testimonials will impress the hiring manager.
However, there is one dig – no one is really interested in reading these references and testimonials in your resume! All that they want to see in your resume is whether you are qualified and experienced enough to move to interview stage.
References and testimonials on resumes are redundant. References are more commonly called after your interviews have gone well, and the employer is in the final stages of deciding whether or not to offer you the job. For many employers, references are used to confirm many of the positive attributes they observed during the interview and to verify details of your work history that you may have shared. For this reason, they aren’t typically a part of the application or early interview process. If you pass the interview stage, the employer will anyways conduct the background checks and directly ask you to provide references. Testimonials are readily available on LinkedIn. So, there is no need to add it to your resume.
Most employers prefer a one-page resume. This means the space on the resume is already limited. Instead of filling it with redundant references and testimonials, you should add some additional achievements and skills relevant to the job. In general, unless asked, don’t put references on your resume.
- Average class of degree or GPA
So, you studied hard in high school or college and are very proud of your GPA. That’s great! But GPA scores not always look that great on resumes.
Generally, employers don’t even factor in GPA at all.
GPA on a resume makes sense if you have recently graduated from college and have a GPA score of above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Employers understand that recent graduates have little to no work experience to document their workplace skills. This why they regard exceptional GPAs as high achievement and a sign of similar performance in the future.
So, put GPA on resumes if you are newly entering the job market and have a GPA of 3.0 and above. However, if your GPA is less than 3.0, you may hurt your chances of getting shortlisted for the interview. In that case, isn’t it better not to include it at all?
What if you have some work experience?
The thumb rule is if you have been working for five years of more, GPA loses its charm. Your work experience and skills that you’ve acquired speak more than your old GPA. Let go of the academic success to make way for your recent accomplishments at work.
Showing a GPA even after five years of work experience shows you immature. Definitely, that’s not what you want to showcase to your potential employer.
- Attach personal documents
Some job seekers go overboard in showing their excitement and seriousness for getting the job. So, they attach personal documents like date of birth certificate, photo, marriage certificate, academic reports, past salary receipts, and bonus and promotion letters from the previous employers. They do this hoping that the hiring manager will open each of these documents to confirm the details mentioned in the resume.
For a moment, consider yourself as a hiring manager who has received 135 emails in response to a job ad you’d posted. You need to go through each email to download the resumes and enter the basic details of each individual applicant in a spreadsheet. You have finished 65 emails, and there are still 70 more to go in the next 3 hours. You opened this one email which has a long list of some random documents attached. Would you skim through the documents to determine which one is the resume or just close this email to move on to the next one?
In most scenarios, the hiring manager would delete this email and move on to the next one. Therefore, you must understand that the hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes for each job posting. They don’t have so much time to spend on every resume. It’s only the 7-second scan at the first level to shortlist the resumes for the interview.
If they need any additional documents, they will ask you to bring them with you on the day of the interview. Bombarding them with so much uninvited information is only going to work against your chances.
- Negative comments about your former employer
Did you leave your last job on a bad note? Or, are you still dissatisfied with your current position? You blame your former or current employer for your dissatisfaction and want to put that in your resume. STOP. Don’t do that.
You might think there’s nothing wrong with being honest, but that’s where you’re wrong. It makes you look unprofessional and untrustworthy, regardless of circumstances.
Whatever issues you had with your former employer, that’s all in the past. Putting that negative comment in the resume won’t change things. Negative comments will only create negative vibes. Instead you should focus on the present, exciting possibilities in the future and how best you can prove your candidature for the job.
- Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes
A single grammatical error or a spelling mistake on your resume is reason enough for the hiring manager to throw your resume in the ‘rejection’ pile.
Hiring managers view grammatical errors or spelling mistakes as signs of poor language skills and lack of attention to detail. Anything that indicates these on your resume will be considered as signs of a ‘bad candidate’. And, no hiring manager wants to hire a ‘bad candidate’.
The most common grammatical and spelling errors on resumes are:
- Mixing up words like “there” and “their”, “two”, “too”, and “to”, or “you’re and “your”, that sound alike but with different spellings and meanings.
- Wrong use of apostrophes, especially in plural words. For instance, “supervised a team of 10 employee’s”, here employees is a plural word.
- Inconsistent tenses. Switching between past and present tenses throughout the resume looks unprofessional and sloppy.
- Subject-verb agreement. When writing sentences for your resume, pay special attention that the subject matches the verb in number and person. These mistakes usually get overlooked.
- Wrong punctuation
- Random capitalization of words and phrases
Before you submit your CV for the job, take some time to proofread it at least 2-3 times. You may ask a friend or relative who has good language skills to check it for you.
When preparing your resume, make sure your skills, experience, and achievements stand out. Show the recruiter/hiring manager what you could bring to the job. Avoid giving in to the temptation of including wrong and irrelevant information just to embellish your CV. Pay attention to the grammar and spelling. Make sure your resume is error-free. Now that you know what not to include in your CV, take a second look at your resume to make sure it has all the right elements pitch you as the right candidate for the job.