Resume advice is plentiful. Most professionals who are even half-aware already know that there are certain things you just don’t advertise.
Your nationality, religion, and political affiliations, for example, don’t belong on your resume.
But there are many other more subtle offenses that creep into even the most pristine resumes. These things might not pop off the page as glaring missteps, but they’re harming your chances all the same.
If you want to make a strong impression with your resume, which I’m sure you do, there’s one key point you must keep in mind: Your resume isn’t a memoir. It’s a marketing document. It doesn’t have to encompass everything you’ve ever done. It should showcase the absolute best you have to offer, and it should do so in the most compelling way possible.
Everything on your resume should be relevant, recent and results-focused. If it’s not, you run the risk of muddying the waters—and that’s not helpful to your mission.
Also read: Answers to Your 5 Toughest Resume Questions
Pull out your resume right now and grab your red pen.
Here are 3 things you need to remove from your resume immediately.
The number of years of experience you have
It’s popular to cite the number of years you’ve spent in a particular field as a way of establishing expertise. However, as we all know, time alone does not an expert make. Seeing a number like that suggests to the reviewer that you see time as an important accomplishment. In reality, all it says is that you’ve shown up—day in and day out—for X number of years. It doesn’t say what you’ve done during that time. For all they know, showing up is your biggest accomplishment.
Also read: Turn A Long Career Into a Short Resume
Irrelevant employment from over 10 years ago
Ten years is the threshold here. The work you did 20 years ago just doesn’t matter anymore. Why? Because, no matter what your field, the work is entirely different now—and so are you. Resume reviewers know that.
If you’ve worked in relevant positions beyond the 10-year threshold, include them at the bottom of the resume but don’t go into detail. The majority of the document should be spent on your accomplishments of the past 10 years, selectively chosen to be the most relevant for the position you’re seeking.
If something is irrelevant to the position you’re seeking, remove it altogether. Don’t force it in there if it doesn’t add to your selling proposition. Remember that you don’t have to account for every moment of your past employment.
Your GPA and specific coursework you completed at school
This one pertains to anyone who graduated more than 5 years ago. If you graduated in the last 5 years, however, you can keep this information because it’s recent and is viewed as more relevant when there is limited work experience.
I understand that you’re probably very proud of your education—and you should be—but for those who have been in the workforce for a few years, it’s just not a compelling consideration. School is not the same as work, no matter what your professors told you. The fact that you earned the degree is all that matters now. Prospective employers want to see that you’ve used that education to contribute tangible value for the organizations you’ve served.
Including these 3 things in your resume won’t necessarily make you look like an amateur, but they will have a subtle negative impact. Be brutal in your revisions and always ask yourself these three questions:
- Is it relevant?
- Is it recent?
- Is it results-focused?
If the answer is no, use that red pen!