What NOT To Include On Your Résumé

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When putting together a résumé, we usually wonder what to include — not what to omit. To start, don’t include a picture of your cat.

While that might seem obvious, recruiter Kelsey Brown counts that image as one of the wackier things she’s witnessed in her job hiring for Trunk Club. She also says she’s seen driving capabilities listed as well as a “rap” a candidate submitted by mistake, neither of which helped the potential employee.

Other résumé killers may not seem as obvious. Here’s what to leave off your résumé to best snag a recruiter’s eye.

Your Entire Life Story
A résumé is not the story of your life. Do not include every single internship, job, volunteer experience, extracurricular activity, class or skill in this document. Instead, tailor it to each specific job opportunity. Include the most relevant and recent work experience. Think about which activities and volunteer roles best demonstrate the skills needed for the position. And, consider breaking up your résumé into sections: Professional Experience, Education, Volunteer Activities, Leadership Experience, Skills and Interests are some examples.

Bland Vocabulary
Lose the boring action verbs and break out the thesaurus. Recruiters review tons of résumés every day and you need to make your accomplishments stand out with compelling language. Did you help put together an annual report? Great! Consider writing, "Designed and edited a 20 page annual report that was distributed to senior executives, the board of directors, funders and partner organizations." Tell your unique story with strong action verbs and vocabulary.

RELATED: 7 Cliché Phrases to Avoid on Your Résumé
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Fancy Formatting
Simplicity in formatting is key. “Sometimes candidates go slightly overboard with pictures, designs, and, oftentimes, ‘fluff’ in order to make their résumé look more aesthetically pleasing. Instead, this can easily become a distraction,” Brown says. Job seekers should focus on the content of the résumé and the value they will add to a company, rather than developing a fancy format. The exception: for highly visual positions like graphic designers, photo editors, or front-end developers, your résumé will help establish your individual brand identity. Keep it simple but unique to stand out.

References
Give yourself more real estate on the page by leaving off your references. Most of the time, employers do not even think about references until after the initial interview. Instead, use those extra inches to dive deeper into a job responsibility or showcase your skills and interests, which Brown says is her favorite part of a résumé. She once interviewed a female student who played hockey for the men’s hockey team. Those few lines conveyed a great deal.

An Objective Section
Old résumé wisdom says to include an objective line at the top of your résumé; however, it really is unnecessary unless you are changing career paths. Objectives are rarely that captivating and are often skipped over in favor of reading the professional work experience. A great place to include an objective-like section is not on your paper résumé but rather on your personal website or your LinkedIn summary. You don’t have that much space on a résumé to share your unique accomplishments, so be selective and thoughtful about what you choose to include. Other things to consider? Brown says to leave out the headshots and artwork — and definitely that picture of your cat.

NEXT: How To Make Your Résumé Really Stand Out

This post was authored by Leanne Aurich.

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