Resume Basics: 6 Things to Leave Off It

Your resume is one of your most important tools for landing a job. It should provide a concise yet compelling snapshot of your relevant qualifications and experience to catch the employer’s interest. However, there is certain information that is best left off to avoid potential hurdles or distractions for recruiters.

While the temptation exists to include everything possible on your one-page resume, less is often more in letting your strongest qualifications shine without clutter or irrelevant details. In this article, we will examine six categories of content that generally do not benefit job seekers and should typically be avoided or minimized on resumes.

By understanding what employers do not need up front, you can craft a clean, easy to scan resume focused solely on the persuasive case for your candidacy. Read on to learn how leaving out these common inclusions streamlines your resume for maximum impact.

1. Personal Details

Personal information like your home address, birthday, height/weight, marital status, or photo are unnecessary distractions that do not directly relate to your ability to do the job. Recruiters do not require these personal details at the resume stage and including them risks potential discrimination claims down the road based on factors like age, religion or family status.

Similarly, your full contact information can be provided separately or later in the recruiting process as needed rather than taking up valuable resume real estate. A phone number or professional email is usually sufficient to facilitate next steps. Your linkedIn profile also makes personal and full contact data easily accessible to interested employers.

Lastly, social media handles do not necessarily lend themselves well to resume formatting and versions across platforms may portray inconsistent narratives. Unless explicitly requested in the application, linking professional social profiles in resumes risks similar issues as above or potential content the employer may find unaligned with their values. Let your qualifications and experience speak for themselves on resumes.

2. Relevant vs. Irrelevant Experience

Objective statements summarizing a generic career goal or dream job no longer hold relevance since employers easily understand job seekers aspirations from the roles and companies applied for. Instead, a customized profile statement highlighting 2-3 qualifications most aligned to the target job focuses scrutiny where needed.

Similarly, chronologically listing every job role holds creates unnecessary scrolling that distracts from pivotal experience. Positions should be selectively highlighted based on relevance to the target role with dates/duration but without description. Irrelevant jobs like unrelated student/summer work or part-time gigs can often be omitted completely to maintain focus.

Briefly expand only on the 2-3 most qualifying roles by specifying responsibilities and achievements in concise, results-driven bullet points showcasing impact and skills over general descriptions. Subtly signaling relevance through familiar buzzwords is also effective at catching eyeballs on applicant tracking systems. Maximizing space for salient experience ensures recruiters attention remains engaged.

3. References

While references will absolutely be needed eventually in the hiring process, listing them directly on resumes consumes valuable real estate without benefit at the initial screen. Hiring managers generally do not contact references until later stages when a candidate is being seriously considered.

Instead, it is perfectly acceptable professionally to indicate “References Available Upon Request” or refrain from any mention, providing full contact information separately as requested later if an interview occurs. This keeps standards clean while still signaling the availability of references when strategically most impactful.

Including references on resumes can also unnecessarily expose individuals to unsolicited contact by competing opportunities during recruitment potentially complicating silent job search processes or exposing references prematurely. Letting references remain behind the scenes until their input is actively sought protects all parties involved.

4. Reasons for Leaving

Discussing reasons for leaving past roles, regardless of circumstances, is best reserved for later interviews rather than taking up resume estate. While an objective reason like relocation may help provide context if extremely relevant, avoid subjective evaluations, complaints or potentially litigious commentary that could compromise or bias perceptions of professionalism and suitability.

Focus instead on results, responsibilities and takeaways from each role concisely without mentioning departure factors. This prioritizes a solution-focused, positive mindset emphasizing transferrable strengths and keeps energy directed productively towards qualifications match for the new position versus prior employment relationships. Reasons for interest in new company/role stand out more prominently.

5. Salary History/Requirements

Compensation questions are a discussion better handled during the interview process and separate from initial qualifications evaluations. Including current or expected salary ranges on resumes risks prematurely narrowing opportunities without gaining a full understanding of responsibilities and culture fits that ultimately factor into compensation satisfaction more broadly.

Placing salary focus too early also risks inadvertently lowering initial perceptions of self-worth or suitability in roles if expectations do not align with market rates for qualifications presented. Let demonstrated experience and impact across entire resume advocate for the value proposition without numeric demands upfront. Compensation negotiations can be strategically balanced factoring full scope once mutual interest in possibilities emerges.

6. Hobbies and Extracurriculars

Unless an avocation is highly specialized expertise directly complimenting the roles requirements, minimizing or excluding hobbies and activities on resumes ensures related experience and qualifications stand out most clearly. Conversations about interests are better saved for later stages once rapport develops.

While well-rounded backgrounds may impart soft skills recruiters appreciate, one page resume real estate gets consumed listing activities providing minimal professional insight. Keep formats laser-focused on qualifications substance through results-driven points from academics and roles that build the logical case for competency in the target position.


Understanding what common inclusions do not move the needle for hiring managers is as important as what to highlight when crafting an optimized resume. By leaving off distracting personal information, irrelevant responsibilities, references, reasons for departure, salary topics and unrelated hobbies, job seekers presentation remains neatly targeted on the qualifications substantively addressing the opportunity.

This more minimalist yet impactful approach creates a positive first impression focused entirely on fit factors within recruiters’ initial screening windows. With practice tailoring content strategically, resumes streamline the case for candidates and advance opportunities ahead effectively.

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