When it comes time to writing a professional resume, there are many “Do’s” and “Don’ts”. The “Do’s” can be summarized as follows:

Present the most relevant, powerful content first. Then, fill in the rest with proof that you’re the best candidate for the job.

This is easier said than done, we know. It takes a plan, organization, and strong written communication skills to make a professional resume. Fortunately, the “Don’ts” of resume writing are more straight-forward. Here are a few you need to follow:

  1. Your photo – Never include a photo on your resume. Why? Because it’s not relevant. It doesn’t indicate what your capabilities are or what value you can add to the organization. In addition, you put the employer is an awkward situation. If the hiring manager rejects a resume with a photo, the candidate may think they were discriminated against when in reality their skillset did not match the job description. While this scenario sounds far-fetched, it’s best to avoid it all together. There is one exception to the rule: some job seekers in creative professions display a photo on an infographic resumes as a stylistic element, but this is the candidate’s choice.
  1. Religious views – This is a hot button issue that’s best left at home. Why? Because it can polarize an otherwise cohesive work team. In addition, “Religion” is a protected class – a characteristic about a person that cannot be discriminated against – under Federal law. Other protected classes include race, color, national origin, citizenship, age (40 and over), pregnancy, familial status, disability, and veteran status. Avoid irrelevant mention of any protected class in a resume and job interview.
  1. High School information – This rule applies unless you’re a recent high school graduate. Entry-level professionals, mid-career professionals, and late-career professionals should not mention high school. Hiring managers don’t care if you were the valedictorian, class president, or varsity football star. Show them who you are now, not who you were then.
  1. References – After you’ve included the most important resume sections, there just isn’t enough room for a list of references. In the cover letter, mention that you can provide strong references when requested, but don’t list the references there either. The hiring manager will need them once you’re called in to interview, not before!
  1. Irrelevant or Old Work Experience – I’m sure your summer lifeguarding job was a blast, but it probably shouldn’t go on a professional resume, unless you’re applying to be a swim coach or similar. In addition, if you’re a seasoned professional in your field, there’s no need to include your internships or part-time work in college. Although these jobs helped shape the professional you are today, they’re simply too old to include now. Show the resume reader what you’ve become since those experiences, and they’ll be a lot more impressed.

Above all, show the hiring manager that you’ve been successful in the past and that you’ll be successful in their organization. Hiring managers see past performance as an indicator of future performance, so show them you have what it takes by including only relevant, powerful content that’s logically organized and beautifully presented. Still need help? Select a resume service, or send us a question by email.