This Is What Not to Put on a Resume

The above picture is a piece of paper with the word resume written on it.

This Is What Not to Put on a Resume

Writing a resume can be hard. You only have a limited amount of space to catch a potential employer's attention. How do you know what to include (and what not to include)?

When you're considering what to put on your resume, you also need to think about what not to put on a resume; it's easy to make rookie mistakes. 

We're here to help you out while you're on your employment journey. You don't have to do it alone. 

Keep reaching to learn about what should not be included in a resume when you're applying for your dream jobs. 

Personal Information

With social media as a backbone in 2020 society, many of us are in the habit of giving out too much information. 

When you're making your resume, there are a few personal things that can be included for the employer to look at. These are your name, phone number, email address, and any other information in relation to contacting you or learning about you as an employee. 

Make sure that you're including a professional-looking email address. A simple name or set of initials is often better than a quirky email.

You should not include things like your height and weight, your gender, your sexuality, or anything that's really not relevant to the job at hand. 

You should also refrain from photos unless the employer specifically asks for them. While it's not uncommon in other countries to include a headshot or passport-style photo with the resume, in the United States it can be seen as unprofessional. 

There are exceptions to this. Jobs that relate to your appearance (like modeling or hosting) may ask for photos. Similarly, if you have an online resume, or resume website, you may include a photo. The photo should be professional, not a selfie or a vacation picture. 

Early Schooling

Typically speaking, you don't want to include anything before college on your resume. If you don't have a college degree, mentioning your high school is fine. If you do, start with college. 

This also includes any publications or awards that happen before college unless they are significant. If you wrote a book or popular article while in high school, for example, you can keep that.

Also, if you did not do well in high school (or college) omit your GPA. You want to look as good as possible, and many employers don't ask for GPA at all. Don't shoot yourself down. 

Fake or Outdated Skills

We all want to look valuable on our resumes, but it's important to be honest as well. If you get the job and don't have the necessary skills, you won't have a very good experience. 

You can find a way to transfer anything into valuable work skills. You don't need to lie.

This also includes skills that are likely outdated. If you know how to code, but you learned it 10 years ago, a lot of that information may have changed from when you last looked into it. 

Unless you're keeping up with your skills, don't include them. Do, however, include anything that might be relevant. If you worked as a teacher, for example, you have plenty of skills that may not be directly obvious (like delegation, writing comprehensive instructions, and editing, for example). 

Irrelevant Experience

When it comes to jobhunting, you want to include your experience if it will be valuable to the employer.

If you only have one job in your history, even if it's small, that can be included as long as you make your role sound as good as possible (see the teaching example above). An employer at a tech firm won't likely care about your time as a pet store clerk unless you have the transferrable skills to make it count. 

A resume should be 1 page if possible, sometimes 2. Don't overwhelm the employer with experience that isn't useful to them. 

Health Conditions

Don't block your own shot. If you have health conditions or a disability, you do not need to put that on your resume. It's better that you don't (and employers would prefer this) to avoid any discrimination problems on either side. 

When you're locked into the position, you can get accommodations for your condition. Before that, only bring things up when asked. You may be asked if an employer would need to provide you with accommodations during an interview, for example. 

Don't give more information than the employer is requesting. They know what they need. 


This might be obvious, but it's important to fact-check and grammar check your resume. While the employer may have nothing to do with writing, it looks sloppy to have a poorly written resume. 

You can have a resume written or edited for you if you don't feel confident in presenting an error-free piece. 


You may be asked for references. You may not. 

Don't include a reference section in your resume unless you are asked for it (and often, references will be a whole other section). You're wasting valuable space (especially if you're aiming for a single-page resume) and you're potentially damaging your chances. 

If you must include a reference section, do not say "references available upon request". If they want references, they will ask for them. This is the worst of both worlds because it makes it seem as though you have something to hide. It's better to omit this section completely. 

Do You Know What Not to Put on a Resume? 

When figuring out what not to put on a resume, you can use the basic formula of "when in doubt, omit". 

Include what an employer needs to know. Boost yourself with real skills and relevant experience, but don't overdo it. This isn't a social media profile, it's a part of a job application.

For more information, or to check out our disability-friendly employers, visit our site. Good luck with your job search!