5 Things to leave off your resume (and why it doesn't count as lying)

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Writing the perfect resume is a daunting task, even for the best qualified applicants. While we spend a lot of time trying to decide what we should include (and how to get it all into that magic one-page format), there are also things that are perhaps best left out.

This is especially true for job seekers that have limited experience. While it may be tempting to fill your resume up with additional details -- if only to make it look like you have more than a few lines to say about yourself -- sometimes it's best to check out a larger font size and more blank space (which increases readability) rather than to turn the employer away with superfluous information.

Here are some of the things to look out for-- and stay away from-- when writing your resume:


1. The words 'intern' and 'volunteer'

Many young graduates make the mistake of creating a special 'internship' or 'volunteering' section on their CV. This might make a lot of sense for someone who is trying to make a point about being dedicated to a particular cause. But for many of us, that unpaid law firm internship was much better aligned with our long-term career goals than that minimum wage job at McDonald's.

So here's the secret: just make a 'professional experience' section where you can list both paid and unpaid work experiences. Then, feel free to leave out the words 'intern' and 'volunteer' altogether.

P.S. This doesn't count as lying. We've all worked at least one job without pay, but the lack of compensation doesn't mean it wasn't a good experience.

In today's competitive job market, interns are often treated as regular employees, but without the salary perks. By listing your duties and accomplishments on your CV, the employer will get an idea of how much work you actually did.

Leaving out the word 'intern' simply encourages the recruiter to consider that experience for what it really was-- a job that taught you important skills.

Most of the time nobody will challenge you on whether or not the experience was paid. If it comes up in an interview, be honest but also let them know you weren't just serving coffee all day:

"Yes, it was technically an internship, but I really feel that I contributed to the company in a big way. One of my main duties was..."


2. Negative or irrelevant job experiences

For applicants without many work experiences, it can be tempting to include everything you've ever done. Unfortunately, babysitting your neighbor's two-year-old might not be relevant experience, even if you did do it for 5 years.

Leaving jobs off your resume isn't dishonest. The goal is to give an image of you as a budding professional in your chosen field. Babysitting isn't going to convince anyone of your ability to sell insurance, so unless you are applying for a job working with kids, leave it out.

The same goes for any past job that might give you a negative recommendation. If you were fired for poor performance, you might as well pretend that it never happened.

Of course, you don't want to delete so many old jobs that your resume ends up with questionable years of blank time where you presumably did nothing. But as a young professional, it's better to list one solid work experience than four or five irrelevant ones.

If challenged about periods of apparent unemployment, explain your choice in terms of what your recruiter is looking for: "Well, I actually worked a few odd jobs at that time, but I figured I would keep my resume focused on the experiences that have prepared me for this position."

 

3. Explanations of whatever you don't have

Let's say the job requires a driver's license and reliable vehicle, but the only car you have access to is Aunt Maude's beat-up old truck. Or maybe they ask for someone experienced with a specific computer software that you've used but don't really master.

Even if you have a good plan in mind to make it all work out, your resume (and cover letter) are not the appropriate places for explaining how you are planning to bike to work or how you've found an online refresher course for that software program.

Here's the goal: find a way to state what you have in the positive ("driver's license" and "excellent computer skills") and leave out everything else.

Leaving things out gives you the opportunity to explain the circumstances more fully in an interview, when you're not limited to one sheet of paper.

The purpose of your resume is to help you get face to face with your employer. Admitting that your aunt's car isn't all that reliable or that you only have 'notions' of STATA may be honest, but it probably won't get you a call from the recruiter. Wait until you have their full attention and can judge their reactions in person to explain all the details.


4. Personal information

At some point in time it was pretty standard to include a photograph with your resume, along with your age, weight, height and marital status. In fact, in some countries (like France), including a photo still hasn't gone out of style.

However, depending on your employer, including such information can really harm your candidacy. Today's companies take non-discrimination seriously, and many recruiters will simply reject applicants who share too much personal information.                                                                               

Make no mistake-- employers know how to use Google. If your profile picture on Facebook or LinkedIn is public, it will be easy enough for them to connect a picture to your profile. Therefore, leaving off your photo isn't dishonest-- it just allows the company to choose whether or not they want to see what you look like. And that can be both a good thing and a bad thing, so make sure your online persona is professional and your drunken party pics are well hidden.

The same goes for information like political affiliation and religion. While you might feel that some aspect of your personal life makes you look good, it is impossible to know what the recruiter will think. If they are interested, they will ask.

The last thing you want to do is to jeopardize your candidacy before they even read what degree you have, so cut the fat. Let them find out about your recent marriage, your short hair and your commitment to the church after they're interested enough to search for you online or request an interview.


5. Low scores

Whether it's a poor GPA or a language that you only speak a few words of, low scores only advertise our weak points.

Feel free to include good grades and let them know if you were summa cum laude. However, if you have anything to be ashamed of, most recruiters won't notice if you leave this information out. In fact, they will probably assume you were an average student, which might even be to your advantage (especially if you were actually below average).

This doesn't count as lying. If asked to provide your GPA or transcripts at a later time, you should of course share them. Most of the time, though, recruiters will be less worried about whether you made straight A's and more concerned about whether you can do the job.


Written by JobTeaser

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