In my last post I talked about common resume mistakes. This time, I’m going to drill down a bit further and discuss three specific items you should never include on your resume and why.
First: any statement about a “job objective” or “career objective”.
This is a rather large area of controversy among resume writing experts. I’ll tell you right up front that my opinion in this area runs against much of the advice floating around about how to write a good resume, but bear with me on this. I have over 25 years experience as a hiring manager at several Fortune 500 companies, as well as large government organizations. Consequently, I’ve read literally thousands of resumes and I know what it takes to catch the hiring manager’s eye. And believe me – it’s not a generalized “job objective”, which tells me nothing about your experience or, more importantly, your accomplishments.
Even In today’s difficult job market, my advice is to not bother with including a job objective in your resume. It really has no meaning to the hiring manager. After all, isn’t your real job objective to land the job for which you’re applying? A generalized statement just takes up valuable space in your resume, space in which you could be talking about your accomplishments. Take the time you would otherwise spend on writing a job objective and put that effort into tailoring your resume so that it’s laser-focused on the specific job for which you’re applying. Trust me – THAT is what will catch the hiring manager’s eye.
What a hiring manager most of all wants to know is whether or not you’re a good fit for their job opening, not what your general “objective” is for a job. Consequently, including a job objective will not help and may very well hurt your resume. Customizing your resume for each job is a much more productive use of your time.
A second item you should never include in your resume is the date you graduated from college (or high school, or trade school, or any school).
Yes, you certainly want to include the fact that you did graduate, the school you attended, and any honors you received, but leave your graduation date off. Including it is really a no-win proposition. If it’s too far in the past, you may be stereotyped as being too old. If it’s too recent, you may be stereotyped as being too young.
Remember: questions about age can’t be asked in an interview. This is to protect you against any sort of age discrimination, so don’t defeat its purpose by giving clues about your age in your resume. Leave dates off and you’ll avoid the risk of being stereotyped before you even show up for the interview.
Focus your resume on your experience and accomplishments and take age out of the equation (at least until you’re seen in person at the interview!).
The third item you should always leave off of your resume is any job more than 10 years in the past.
The world is changing so rapidly today that job experience more than 10 years ago has little, if any, relevance, regardless of your profession. Personally, I usually don’t even read job experience on resumes that is older than 10 years. So much has changed, and you’ve probably changed a lot as a worker, that experience that old just doesn’t make much difference in the hiring decision.
Focus on tailoring how your present your last 10 years of experience so that it matches the job to which your applying as close as possible. That’s what the hiring manager wants to read.
Plus, if you list jobs you held 15 or 20 years ago, what does that say about your age? Here too, don’t date yourself before you even get an interview.
The one exception to this is if the job requires more than 10 years of experience. You should then go back as far as you have experience that is directly relevant.
Next time, I’ll review the two primary resume formats and which one is right for your particular circumstance.