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Resume Red Flags: What Not to Include on Your Job Application

Jun 20, 2024 10:45:00 AM
By The TPD Team

in Job Seeker, Job Search Quick Tips, Resume, CANDIDATE

Crafting a resume is a critical step in the job search process. While it’s important to showcase your skills, experience, and accomplishments, it’s equally crucial to know what to leave off. A well-tailored resume can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview while including unnecessary or inappropriate information can harm your prospects. Here are key things you should not include on your resume to make the best impression on potential employers.

1. Personal Information Beyond Contact Details

Unnecessary Personal Details

  • Age or Date of Birth: Disclosing your age can inadvertently lead to age discrimination.
  • Marital Status: Your marital status is irrelevant to your job performance and should be omitted.
  • Social Security Number: For security reasons, never include your social security number on your resume.

What to Include Instead

  • Contact Information: Your full name, phone number, professional email address, and LinkedIn profile are sufficient.

2. Photographs

Including a photograph on your resume is generally not recommended, especially in the US and Canada, due to the potential for discrimination. Employers should evaluate your qualifications and experience, not your appearance.


In some countries and industries (e.g., modeling or acting), photos might be expected. Research the norms in your field and location.

3. Irrelevant Work Experience

Outdated or Unrelated Jobs

Listing jobs that are not related to the position you are applying for can clutter your resume and distract from your relevant experience. Focus on positions that showcase your skills and achievements pertinent to the job.

How to Handle Employment Gaps

If you have gaps in your employment, consider including a brief explanation in your cover letter rather than cluttering your resume with unrelated jobs.

4. Negative Language or Criticism of Past Employers

Avoid Negativity

Speaking poorly about past employers or colleagues can reflect negatively on you. Maintain a positive and professional tone throughout your resume.

Emphasize Positive Contributions

Focus on your achievements and the positive impact you had in previous roles rather than any negative experiences.

5. Excessive Details

Keep It Concise

Aim for a resume length of one to two pages. Use concise bullet points and clear headings to make your resume easy to read.

Avoid Long Paragraphs

Long paragraphs can be overwhelming. Use bullet points to highlight key achievements and responsibilities.

6. Unprofessional Email Addresses

Use a Professional Email

Ensure your email address is professional. Avoid using email addresses that contain nicknames, slang, or inappropriate language.


Use a simple format such as firstname.lastname@example.com.

7. Hobbies and Interests

Only If Relevant

Generally, hobbies and interests should only be included if they are directly relevant to the job or demonstrate transferable skills.


If you are applying for a job in marketing, mentioning your blog or social media management as a hobby can be relevant.

8. Salary Information

Leave Out Salary Expectations

Discussing salary should be reserved for the interview or negotiation stage, not your resume.

Focus on Qualifications

Use your resume to highlight your qualifications and fit for the job, rather than your salary history or expectations.

9. References

"References Available Upon Request"

This phrase is outdated and unnecessary. Employers assume you will provide references if asked.

Separate Reference Sheet

Prepare a separate reference sheet to provide when requested during the interview process.

10. Typos and Grammatical Errors

Proofread Carefully

Errors in your resume can create a negative impression. Always proofread your resume multiple times and consider having someone else review it as well.

Use Tools

Utilize grammar and spell-check tools to catch any mistakes you may have missed.

FAQ: Common Questions About What to Leave Off Your Resume

1. Should I include my GPA on my resume?

Include your GPA only if you are a recent graduate and it is above 3.5. Otherwise, it’s usually best to omit it unless specifically requested by the employer.

2. Can I include a personal website or portfolio?

Yes, if it is relevant to the job and showcases your professional work. Ensure it is polished and up-to-date.

3. What if my previous job titles don’t match the job I’m applying for?

Focus on highlighting transferable skills and relevant accomplishments rather than the job titles themselves.

4. How do I address employment gaps?

Briefly mention employment gaps in your cover letter rather than on your resume. Highlight any productive activities during those periods, such as volunteering or further education.

5. Is it okay to use a creative resume format?

Creative formats can be appropriate for creative industries but ensure the design is professional and the content is easy to read.


Creating an effective resume involves knowing what to include and what to leave out. By avoiding unnecessary personal information, irrelevant experience, and other common pitfalls, you can present a clear, professional, and compelling resume that highlights your qualifications and suitability for the job. 

At TPD, we provide support and work with job seekers for free, helping you craft the perfect resume and find the right job opportunities. 

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in your job search.


Filed under Job Seeker, Job Search Quick Tips, Resume, CANDIDATE

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