Graduation dates: Include your degree, major (if it is relevant), and the institution. But take off the date. Age discrimination is a concern for many people currently looking for work. Avoid tempting reviewers to do the math to discover your age.
College honors: While your degree is imperative, don’t include a lot of information about college honor societies and leadership roles. These are great when you’re a new graduate but might make you look like a rookie if the information is no more than 10 years old. If you are a recent MBA or Masters graduate, by all means, include that information above your Bachelor’s degree.
Irrelevant experience: If you are applying for a position in sales and you have substantial experience in IT project management, downplay the irrelevant experience and create new achievement statements that support your experience with customers. Make your non-sales experience sound more like sales. Shorten job entries that don’t support your sales message.
Jobs in the dim, dark past: The rule of thumb is to include your last 10-15 years of experience. If you need to prove expertise you gained long ago, you might use the heading “Other Relevant Experience,” and give a description of your achievements, without the dates of employment. Baby Boomers should be careful NOT to include 30 years of experience. Why give your hiring manager a clue you are over 50 until they meet you in person?
Personal interests section: Resumes of the past often included personal information such as marital status, family members and even church membership! All of that information is illegal to collect so don’t include it. Also eliminate references to hobbies, clubs and political views. A Community Work section can show your leadership skills, but stick with non-controversial organizations such as Rotary, Lions, the Chamber of Commerce, and recognized nonprofits.
Gaps in history: Eliminate gaps in your work history by filling in with short, truthful statements. “Homemaker sabbatical” or “Caregiver sabbatical” will explain a work hiatus and allow the interviewer to focus on your job history. Survival jobs such as McDonalds or Wal-Mart should also be left off the resume. You can fill gaps with part-time, direct sales positions, contract work, or consulting projects. Some job seekers put volunteer work on the resume as if it were paid. For example, if you are a PR professional and you organized and publicized a charity event, list the work and your achievements just as you would for a full-time job.
Photos: These may not be on your resume, but once a potential employer has your full name they might as well be. Polish all social networking profiles and remove any unprofessional or embarrassing photos. Ask your friends to clean up social networking profiles for you, too. If you are gray or balding, you might consider removing your photo during your job search.
Your resume is designed to present the professional you. Write it with a job description in mind, avoiding any details that might detract from your single-minded pursuit of that job.
Catherine Jewell is on a personal quest to help everyone find perfect work. She is the Career Passion® Coach and author of New Resume, New Career, a resume makeover book featuring 50 real-life career changers. For more than 25 years, she has studied the phenomena of career planning and has coached more than 600 adults through mid-life career changes. Catherine speaks at conferences about Career Passion® and provides resume writing, career testing, group tele-classes, and coaching by phone or in person. Her new book is available on Amazon.com and in book stores now. For more information, check out www.CareerPassionCoach.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.