Saturday, March 20, 2021


I think of doing a resumé when job hunting to be similar to writing a synopsis of your story before writing the manuscript…a dreaded task that no one wants to do but it's necessary.

With a synopsis you need to convey the storyline, who your main characters are, their conflict and how it's resolved, and the emotion that fits into the story—providing an editor with the feel of your story as well as the events that take place. And the catch that makes it a daunting task? Trying to fit all that into the very limited number of pages as set forth by the publisher without it reading like an impersonal listing of items.

A similar problem exists when putting together a resumé. I've heard it said that a resumé should never be more than one page long, therefore brevity is a must. But on the other hand, you need to provide a prospective employer with a clear picture of your qualifications and experience.

So, what do you put in and what do you leave out?

I recently came across a list of 5 things you should not put on your resumé which I'd like to share with you.

Your Age:

People doing the hiring need to know what you can bring to the company rather than how many years you've been alive. I think it's actually illegal in the U.S. for a prospective employer to ask the age of anyone 18 years of age up to the retirement age. And along with listing your specific age goes the following no-no items:

            Listing professional experience more than 15 years old.

            Providing an exact number of years of professional experience in your opening summary. For example: 'senior accountant with more than 25 years of experience in...'  According to experts, this type of data invites age discrimination. And don't forget that age bias goes both ways—a resume that says you are too young for the job isn't to your advantage, either.

Listing Tasks or Duties Without Results:

Your resumé needs to go beyond listing the jobs you've done: It must convey what you've accomplished on those jobs. Many applicants miss this key distinction. Saying you reorganized the filing system conveys the task but that's all. But saying that you increased office productivity 20% by reorganizing the filing system conveys both the task an positive results.

Explanations of Anything Negative

A resumé needs to present a positive picture of the person applying for a job. If there's something negative that needs explaining, do it in person at your interview rather than in your resumé.

A List of Every Job You've Ever Held

Prospective employers don't want to know about that summer job you had—unless you're applying for a job where that specific experience is relevant. List the work you've done in the past 10 to 15 years that tells an employer you're a skilled, reliable fit for the job. However (tricky line here), employers don't want to see gaps in your employment history so you need to account for that time.

Personal Details

Employers usually don't care about your marital status, race, sexual orientation or hobbies, unless they are somehow relevant to the job. Including personal data is a novice mistake. Your resumé is just the first step in securing a job. At this phase of the process, those personal details aren't necessary. Today's job seeker usually sends a resumé via email and that means there's no way to know exactly who or how many people will see it. With identity theft becoming a larger and larger problem, you need to protect your personal information from anonymous eyes.

And here's a few more quick tips:

Make sure your resumé is free of typos, grammar goofs, and factual errors (like getting a company's name wrong).

Don't list your salary history unless the employer demands it.

Don't worry about providing references on your resumé. You can do that in a separate document.

Good luck on the job hunt. 


Kathleen Buckley said...

Excellent advice! The "age" thing is a killer. No matter how much experience you have, many employers don't want to hire an older person.

Liz Flaherty said...

This is interesting! Can a potential employer actually demand to know your salary history? I'd have thought that was private information if you chose for it to be so.

Ilona Fridl said...

Great suggestions for someone looking for a job!

Shirley Goldberg said...

Hahahah, yes this is like writing a synopsis. I've written tons in my former life. I think a synopsis is harder.

Shawna Delacorte said...

Kathleen: Yes, that age thing is a real puzzler. It seems that prospective employers want someone to have years and years of experience in several different areas but be young (improves their rate on group medical insurance). Those two realities don't go together.

Thanks for your comment.

Shawna Delacorte said...

Liz: I don't think legally demand where you are compelled to answer but can demand as part of their decision to hire you. I don't feel that someone's salary history is relevant to whether someone is qualified for the job. If the candidate is willing to take a pay cut from his/her last job or if that person had been grossly underpaid on his/her previous job should not be a deciding factor.

Thanks for your comment.

Shawna Delacorte said...

Ilona: Glad you fund my blog viable.

Thanks for your comment.

Shawna Delacorte said...

Shirley: I really hate doing a synopsis--get the storyline, the main characters, emotional content and motive and make sure it's only one page long (or maybe two pages). Yep--good luck on that one. :)

Thanks for your comment.