Resumes and Cover Letters

7 Things to Leave Off Your Resume When You Apply to an Executive Role


You’ve accumulated a ton of experiences over the years, but listing everything on your resume would take up too much space—and possibly lose the reader’s attention. Not every experience needs to be on your resume. There are other points that can be left off as well, including any information that’s out-of-date or no longer relevant.

If it has been a few years since you’ve updated your resume, it’s time for an overhaul. Here are seven things that don’t belong on the modern executive resume.

What Details Should You Remove From Your Resume?

1. Your job objective.

Career objectives aren’t used anymore. This goes for anyone, but especially executives. The recruiter knows what job you’re applying for, so your objective is already implied. Save the space for more important information, such as a career summary.

A career summary should be cohesive and introduce highlights about your candidacy. You can think of it as an introduction to your professional achievements. Only include the most relevant information—for example, if you’re seeking a position as Chief Marketing Officer, don’t mention your accomplishments in the IT world unless you can put a marketing spin on them. This section needs to be tailored to the role to which you’re applying.

2. Outdated skills and information.

No one cares that you were a whiz at Lotus 1-2-3 back in the day. All that information does is date you—and your skill set. You don’t want to make yourself look out of touch with newer forms of technology. If you know how to use software that’s no longer useful in modern settings, don’t mention it on your resume.

In a similar vein, don’t spend much time discussing your job from 10 or 15 years ago. There isn’t a strict cut-off for which positions you should include on your resume, but it’s perfectly reasonable to leave off positions that no longer apply your current situation.

3. Personal details.

resumeDon’t include details about your age, health, or marital status. It’s illegal for employers to ask, and there is no reason to expose yourself to the possibility of discrimination. In the United States, it’s unusual to include a photo of yourself on your application materials, and it’s no longer recommended to have a mailing address in the header.

Your resume is no place for a list of hobbies, either. Unless your hobby is relevant to the position you’re applying for, save that space for something that speaks to your candidacy.

4. Salary information.

Salary requirements and salary history have no place on today’s executive resume. You don’t want to lay your cards on the table before you’ve even been called for an interview. Don’t disclose any information about salary until you’re ready to negotiate.

Read Ivy Exec’s best tips on salary negotiations

5. Job descriptions.

When listing your previous employment, replace job descriptions with value statements. The recruiter can use the job title to determine what your job responsibilities would have been. Instead, state what you did to add value to your employer while you worked in that position. Try to attach numbers if possible.

6. Fancy formatting.

Leave off any formatting that could get scrambled if the recruiter uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) to automate the candidate screening process. Rich formatting including headers, footers, charts, graphs, columns, and text boxes won’t get imported properly, which could impede readability.

You might be the perfect candidate, but if the recruitment software cuts out your phone number, you’re not going to get a call for an interview.

7. Anything that’s irrelevant.

Finally, leave off anything that’s not directly related to the job you’re pursuing. This includes positions that didn’t last long or that you didn’t enjoy. It also includes roles from another industry or vertical that have nothing to do with your current career goals. Your job history should showcase a career path that culminates clearly into your next role.

Think of your resume as a marketing campaign. You’re marketing yourself as the ideal candidate.

Don’t send mixed messages or create confusion by disclosing too much information in your resume. Give a potential employer exactly what they’re looking for without any fluff. Go over your resume carefully and remove anything that doesn’t address the needs of your target market.

For more help writing your resume, schedule an appointment with a Career Coach


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