Decluttering Your Résumé: 7 Details to Leave Off

The English word résumé comes from the French noun of the same spelling, which means “summary.” But in our aim to present the best possible breakdown of our experience and qualifications, it’s easy to overdo it on the detail. Below are seven things you can safely leave off your résumé or CV, giving you extra space to focus on the essentials recruiters are actually looking for.

1. Basic Professional Skills

Typing fifty words a minute or knowing your way around Excel are no longer sellable skills but basic competencies required of any professional in a twenty-first century office. Concentrate on highlighting your most important accomplishments, essential technical expertise, and marketable soft skills.

2. Full address

I’ve seen résumés where two or even three lines are wasted on contact details, a waste of valuable space you could use for more interesting information. When it comes to your address, for example, just your city and postcode will do, on a single line, like so: London, NW1 3AB. Plus, you can always put your full address on your cover letter instead.

On the other hand, if you’re struggling to come up with enough information to fill a whole page, there are plenty of ways to get around that problem, including breaking up your contact information into several lines.

3. Supplementary education details

Hiring companies don’t need to know about the art elective you barely passed back in spring 2015. The only education details you should include on your résumé or CV are: name of qualification, school, graduation year, and—if you’re a recent graduate—GPA or comparable information about overall outcome. Here are two examples:

BA, Journalism
Seattle University
Graduated 2016
GPA 3.7

MA (Hons), History
Cardiff University
Graduated 2016
First Class

(It goes without saying you shouldn’t volunteer your GPA or degree classification unless it’s above-average.)

Obviously, if you’re a recent graduate and you have limited experience, you can include details about college memberships or extracurricular activities that are relevant to your job application. But once you’ve entered the workforce full-time, for most professionals, the meat of your résumé will be your actual work history.

4. Irrelevant experience

If you’ve been working for some time now, or the nature of your job history is such that you’ve jumped a lot a between gigs, you can end up with a pretty cluttered-looking résumé if you aim to cram everything in. Filtering out employment history that’s no longer relevant is part of the broader task of tailoring your résumé using the language in the job ad, which you should do for every application.

5. Photo

Photos on résumés are becoming more commonplace, especially in the creative fields, where personality reigns supreme. But in many cases, it would simply look a bit off. Instead, include a link to your LinkedIn profile and make sure you’ve used a professional, clear headshot as your profile pic.

Of course, this also depends on where you live and what your line of work is. In some countries, a passport-like photo is standard on CVs, so don’t ignore regional considerations.

6. Leisure or personal interests

If you’ve already covered all the essentials and you have room to spare, it’s fine to include personal interests, but do try to select ones that are relevant to your application. For example, if you’re applying to work at a travel magazine, you’d want to list travel as an interest, not knitting.

7. Information that could hurt your chances

When it comes to your résumé, there’s no such thing as neutral information. Every bit of detail will either enhance or diminish your candidacy, so be sensible. This means you’re better off not including links to any of your social media pages except LinkedIn, especially if your feeds are full of photos from nights out back in college. Same goes for information about your political or religious affiliations (unless, obviously, you’re applying to a position at such an organization).

Further Reading

Now that you’ve finished decluttering, check out these Betenwrite articles to help you take your résumé to the next level:

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About Betenwrite

Betenwrite.com offers original content focused on personal and professional change, including a résumé design library featuring free and easy-to-edit templates. The mission of the site is to inspire people to let go of the negative stories that are holding them back, and instead start taking real-world steps toward aligning their professional lives with their personal selves.

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