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Three Items You May Want to Leave OFF Your Resume!

Many of our blog posts provide details of what should be included on a resume in order to be called in for an interview. However, it is equally important to discuss what should be left off your resume! You may be inadvertently including something that is viewed detrimentally, and therefore prevents you from moving on in the hiring process.

Last fall we published a blog which listed 10 things everyone should leave off their resume. For this new article, we will discuss three items that should be left off a resume depending on the specific situation. So, these fall in a "grey" area. In some cases, it makes sense to include them. In others, you will be better off without listing them on your resume. Let's examine the details.

Advanced Education

You likely worked hard for your MBA, PhD, or other advanced degree. Therefore, it makes sense that you would want to highlight it on your resume. However, we caution you to examine the position you are applying for before including your advanced education.

What level of education does the position you are seeking require? Do they list MBA, PhD, or other advanced degree? If not, you may want to think twice before including your higher education on your resume. Why? Well, you may appear over-qualified, which might cause a hiring manager to not select you because they worry you will require a salary they can't afford. Or, they will think that you would become bored in this role and move on quickly. In either case, adding your advanced degree to your resume may result in it being discarded.

Revision Resume advises that you include the level of education that is listed as either required or preferred on the job posting. If it says MBA or PhD, then don't hesitate to list it. However, it the job description requires or prefers a Bachelor's degree, then only list that and eliminate the additional degree(s) you obtained.

Volunteer Experience

Clients occasionally want us to include volunteer roles because they feel it provides a full picture of who they are. While ensuring a candidate is a good match for the company culture is important, it doesn't need to be done at the resume stage of the job application process. Instead, incorporate this information on your LinkedIn profile, so anyone investigating you further will see it. The interview is also an ideal time to expound on how your volunteer roles have shaped you into an excellent candidate and solid fit for the company.

The issue with including volunteer roles on your resume is often they don't directly relate to the job you are applying for -- and -- they take up valuable space on your resume. Instead of extending the document to 3 pages so you can include specifics about your volunteer tasks, you should eliminate them if they don't capture why you are a good fit for this particular job. Use the space you have wisely and focus on what the hiring manager is looking for.

Are there exceptions? Yes, if you can use the volunteer experience to show that you meet a requirement from the job posting, then you should include it.

Every Job You Ever Held

It is a common misconception that your resume is a historical view of your entire work life. The reality is that you don't need to include every job you ever held. In fact, there are two good reasons to not include each and every position.

  1. Older Employees: Age discrimination does exist, unfortunately. If you are 50+, you may want to leave off the jobs that date back further than 15 years, so as not to highlight your age right on your resume. It is likely that your current roles are more aligned with what you are seeking anyway, so you don't need to include history that isn't required to demonstrate you have the skills for this job opening.

  2. Unrelated Roles: We see this often with younger workers. They may have had a few hourly jobs before they were hired as a salaried employee, such as roles they held during high school or college. These jobs don't pertain to the career they are in, or the role they are seeking, yet they continue to list them on their resume. Instead of making the hiring manager weed through to figure out what is relevant and what isn't, just eliminate the unrelated roles and focus on providing details with actions and results for those roles that are in your chosen career path.

Where is the grey area on this topic? Well, if you are just graduating from college, you may want to include your previous unrelated work experience to demonstrate you are capable of holding down a job and to showcase soft skills such as time management and customer service.

Also, if you are changing careers, it is possible that one of your older positions is a better match for the job you are seeking and therefore should be included on your resume even though it is 15+ years ago. In that case, you may want to add a section to your resume, titled "Additional Relevant Work Experience," where you list the previous positions without including specific dates.

Are you finding it challenging to determine what should be included on your resume and what should be left off? Revision Resume is here to help. Contact us at to find out how we can assist you in creating a resume that helps you earn an interview!

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In addition to our blog that is packed with useful information and tips, Revision Resume also offers a monthly newsletter and group educational programs. 

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