6 Things That Should Never Be On Your Resume

A few articles ago, I mentioned the importance of an honest resume. Unfortunately, there’s a subset of society that takes takes everything to extremes. You know the type. If you tell them meat is bad, they’ll strip naked and pour pig’s blood all over KFC. If you tell them gambling sucks, they’ll set a casino on fire. And if you tell them “be honest on your resume”, they’ll write a tell-all expose including the number of times they’ve peed in a public pool. This article is for their benefit. It’s about what you don’t need to have on your resume:


Person consulted on his resume

"Oh, that resume WAS in English? I couldn't tell!"


1. Unnecessary Ideological Information 

Leave out your religious or political views. In fact, mentioning either puts the hirer in a tough spot. Especially if the company is American.

American companies are subject to American labour law, even when operating in Singapore. They have strict anti-discrimination policies. So when you bring up such issues, the hiring manager starts to squirm. Suddenly, interviewing you seems as comfortable as telling gay jokes on the nine o’clock news.

Also, if the hirer interviews and rejects you, are you going to accuse them of doing it because you’re Jewish / Catholic / watch Michael Moore popumentaries? They’re not taking that chance.

The same goes for local companies. Singaporean employers don’t care about your beliefs, as long as they’re far away from work. Like, say, in a separate solar system. Include a strong statement of your beliefs, and the hirer will develop an equally strong aversion to your phone number.


Protest rally

"In future, our job ads won't use the word 'revolution'. Now clear out the waiting room."


2. Tales of Your Exciting Student Years

If it happened before you were 16, think before putting it on your resume. It had better be on par with “At 14, I taught myself French with nothing but a dictionary and a DVD of Vivre Pour Vivre.”

If you’re fresh out of school and never had a job, it’s excusable. But if you’ve been working more than three years, mentioning your boy scout merits is just pathetic. The hirer will assume you have no serious accomplishments, and that your best years ended after winning a smiley face in the Primary School science fair.

Besides, most hirers gloss over such details. As if they can be bothered calling your old principal to check.


Vandalized building

"I started my, uh, art career pretty young."


3. How Much Money You Want

A good salesman doesn’t open with the price. You want the hirer to be all psyched up, before you start talking dollars.

If you make it to the interview, you can at least negotiate. But if you give your quote early, your resume might go straight to the trashcan. Hirers have a fixed budget in mind, and since you don’t know what that is, you need to approach it like Channel 8 approaches a drama plot: With slow, blind groping.

Try to hold off on salary discussions until you’re asked. If you must indicate your price, give a range. For example, from $3000 to $4000 a month. Most hirers will pick something in the middle. A better idea is to describe your expected pay without numbers. You could expect “entry level pay”, for example.


Money Shirt

"I'll dress in a way that suggests my worth."


4. Confidential Information From Your Previous Job

Never betray your former employer’s confidence. Don’t mention their trade secrets, inside dealings, or work processes.

Otherwise, under “known conditions” your hirer is going to write “a big mouth”. Which, as far as they’re concerned, is incurable. This is a trust issue: Revealing confidential information suggests you lack integrity. What’s to say that, if they hire you, their multi-million dollar research won’t end up on Gizmodo’s front page?

Besides, think of the legal ramifications. Do you know what happens if your former employer finds out? You may as well scrawl “sue me” on your cover letter.


Guy in mask

"All the information is on my resume. I suggest you read it some place without windows."


5. Corporate Speak

It’s great that you improved efficiency in your old workplace. It’s not so great when you describe it as “re-contextualizing a saturated praxis”.

If your resume reads like an $80 management textbook, maybe you ought to go write one instead. Because you won’t be getting that job. Hirers get suspicious of people who use corporate speak; it suggests you’re pretentious and obscure. At the very least, you might be an ivory tower graduate, with less connection to reality than Comfort’s taxi fares.

A bit of corporate jargon is fine, but your resume shouldn’t make the hirer frown and ask: “Are these all real words?”


Board meeting

"Excuse us, we need a quick board meeting to decipher what your resume means."


6. Any Pictures Other Than Your Head Shot

Actually, you don’t even need a head shot these days. The only companies that want a lot of pictures are modelling agencies, retail outlets, and types of businesses I’m not allowed to discuss here.

Including a full body picture of yourself, or a range of pictures, is tacky. Like you copy-pasted your Facebook page on their screen. Besides, think of how the hirer feels: If the only six-pack you have is in your fridge, it’s merely embarrassing. If you’re certifiably hot, they’ll be accused of hiring you for your appearance. That’s not a spot you want to place anyone in.

Save the pictures for when they’re requested.


Mugshot from prison

Dear Sir, I hope you won't mind my using an old photo…


Image Credits:
Gangplank HQ, madcowk, borkur.net, RBerteig, Anonymous9000, alexdecavalho, CharlotWest

What are some things you’ve learned to take off your resume? Comment and let us know!

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