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Top 10 Things to Leave Off Your Resume

fishdogs wordle Top 10 Things to Leave Off Your Resume

Craig Fisher (twitter: @fishdogs) on his Career Branding for Social Animals blog shared the results of his informal LinkedIN query to recruiters and hiring managers about the  top things to leave off the resume. You can read the post with the top 10 list or check out the Wordle image he put together that tells it all.

Craigs' top 10 things to leave off your resume.

10. Religious or Political affiliations
9. Toastmasters
8. Hobbies
7. Photos
5. Compensation
4. Family info (marital status, children, pets)
3. References available upon request
2. Anything not relevant to the position for which you are applying
1. Objective

What you think?

Image credit: Wordle @fishdogs

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16 Comments - Add yours!

Josh (April 29th, 2009)

Seems odd to me that you’d leave off Toastmasters… I wonder what the rationale for that would be?

Lindsay Olson (April 29th, 2009)

Josh, thought the same thing about leaving Toastmasters off the list, especially if it’s listed in a professional affiliations area. I guess a few of the recruiters who answered the question on LinkedIN thought Toastmasters was “tacky” – though I don’t personally agree. Here is the thread:

Steve Schwartz (April 30th, 2009)

It seems odd to me that MENSA is on the list. I know IQ is not an all-telling indicator of intelligence or anything, but it does give a clue as to your cognitive ability. I’m assuming a lot of managers wouldn’t hire someone in MENSA, because they would feel threatened in their own job. I would leave MENSA on my resume purely as a way for me to weed out hiring managers I don’t want to work for anyway.

Steve Schwartz (April 30th, 2009)

Ok, I just read through the thread, and yes I would definitley leave MENSA ON the resume. All of the reasons people give for taking it off are due to negative presumptions made about people in MENSA by people who are not. I don’t want to work for anyone who lets their business decisions be affected by unfounded prejudices, so on it stays.

Lindsay Olson (April 30th, 2009)

Steve, I definitely agree. I found both the Toastmasters and Mensa mentions to be a bit odd to make it to a top ten list. Although many on this list I do agree with – like I don’t think it’s anybody’s business to know your political or religious affiliations, compensation in each of your jobs on a CV, or family info, but Toastmasters, Mensa, and even some hobbies (if related to the job) could prove to make you a stronger candidates.

Also, the objective statement…. I agree it should be left out because most people write an horrible objective statement, but that space should be replaced with a summary or achievements section.

I think the main point is not to include anything extra on your resume that isn’t going to help you or relevant for the job.

Lindsay McHugh (April 30th, 2009)

I definitely agree with leaving off the objective statement. There are much more valuable things to put in that space!

Jessica (May 14th, 2009)

Though I wouldn’t include a “hobbies” section, I think it’s perfectly okay to leave an “Interests and Inspirations” section at the bottom of the page (depending on the job, I suppose). It is a good way to get a good conversation going and show the recruiter that you’re a multi-facted and broadly talented individual.

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Brad (January 22nd, 2010)

The idea that keeping MENSA on your resume is going to “weed out hiring managers I don’t want to work for anyway” exhibits its own style of ignorance to reality. Harsh criticism with limited knowledge of context is exactly what that statement seeks to avoid right? Doesn’t Steve’s rationalization of Mensa inclusion exhibit that same ignorant reaction in the opposing direction? In short, what he’s saying is he would never want to work with a guy like himself!

Unless it accentuates your suitability to the job being sought, any mention of a club that takes time out of your week seems like a negative. Regardless of how great it makes you feel to show it. If your audience can’t relate then you’re not a smart resume writer. Mensa and Toastmasters, to me, indicate that this is a candidate who wants to assert himself in the workplace. Not all workplaces *want* assertive people and not all positions are best held by type A leader personalities. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I also disagree that an objective should be left off. Instead, why not figure out how to craft a great Objective statement! Objectives are your one opportunity to define who you are and what you want.

Dara (February 18th, 2010)

I think Toastmasters makes no sense to leave off, if you are ignorant of what it is or who goes then perhaps, maybe mention why you go during the interview or something. Many people who go to Toastmasters are not “tyipe A” OR “leader” personalities. Having the ability to be well spoken and having a grip on nerves during speaking makes you an asset and a functional human being. Most people hiring are not looking for quiet, socially awkward employees, loner types.

Thabo Mgcina (October 19th, 2010)

I don’t get the whole idea of taking out toastmaters. can someone please explain.

Will (April 29th, 2011)

Regarding Toastmasters and Mensa: Keep in mind that this list is based on a survey of “recruiters and hiring managers,” who probably see thousands of resumes and may be quick to throw out any that don’t conform to their own prejudices.

All my jobs have been at smaller organizations, where the cover letter and resume are sent to (a) the boss of whomever gets the position or (b) a committee formed specifically for that particular position. Since they don’t weed through thousands of applications each week, they may be far more likely to look at favorable but unusual characteristics in a positive light.

I’ve hired people for about 6 positions, and I’ve never been disappointed with the people I’ve hired. As far as I’m concerned, either membership would be a definite plus. I agree with the rest of the Top 10, except perhaps for “hobbies.” Of course it depends on what the hobby is.

Dyslresiac (June 8th, 2011)

I am concerned about MENSA being on this list.

I had considered joining MENSA simply for the credentials, but now I’m seeing that I should leave it off my resume anyway. I agree that most people have this negative attitude towards MENSA (one of the main reasons I am even hesitant to join) but I’m not suddenly a prick because I’m now eligible.

I will say that as a Scientist/Engineer, that which makes me a MENSA candidate has helped me out immensely in my job, and in my field it might be different.

Judy (July 25th, 2011)

Not only have I never put my Mensa membership on a resume, I have, after dealing with bosses who are threatened by those with a higher education than themselves, left off part of my education. I have both an MBA and an MFA from an Ivy league University. I worked my ass of to graduate with honors for both, but I find I get much less calls back from recruiters when I put this information in the resume. I worked for a major studio and had no problem working for a man who had not gone beyond high school, but had worked his way up the ladder for years. I respected that, but the first time I sent in my resume with my full education I was not called. Four months later I sent in a resume with only by BA and I was called the next day and hired while in the interview. Only about two years later, when a college friend brought it up in front of a co-worker did the full truth come out – and my boss harped on the “extra’ education for weeks after.

Britt (January 25th, 2012)

I must say I had never considered leaving off my higher education.. That really puts it in perspective!

I sat the test 2 years ago.. I debated for ages, but after being technically unemployed for over a year (I had been travelling), I decided to put my membership on my resume as a sociological experiment..

The good news, I got a job..

The bad news… There was a LOT of bad politics over my hire (I did not have the relevant skills and experience and the company was repeatedly downsizing), I was expected to get up to speed in an unreasonably short amount of time, my immediate boss (who didn’t hire me) didn’t know her job properly and wanted someone WITH the skills and experience to hide that fact (from the chopping block), so she sabotaged everything I did in order to both use me as a scapegoat for her own lack of knowledge, as well as to try have me fired.. Worst 8 months of my life!

My conclusion? Get the job based on what you’ve learned and the experience you’ve gained – it will lessen the stress you have to endure from unrealistic expectations.. Use your high IQ to actively seek out higher learning opportunities and more challenging experiences to put on your CV.. But don’t put Mensa (or your IQ) on your CV!

Maureen Bogues (October 2nd, 2012)

It is complete garbage to tell people not to list Toastmasters on a resume. Garbage. It is one of the best investments a person can make toward his or her professional life, in that it instills confidence; helps with communication and helps to shape leaders. Whatever recruiter thought it was irrelevant is totally misinformed. Have you ever seen literature that is aimed at high-potential executives in the corporate world? Public speaking is one of the top skills required for these high-level jobs. Please stop spreading misinformation. Toastmasters rocks. If you doubt it, visit a meeting someday.

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