10 Most Useless Resumes Employers Don’t Want Anymore

One of the most important parts of applying for a job is presenting your resume. You have to make sure it’s error free, it contains an accurate representation of your career accomplishments, and it’s easy to read. However, there are some other things you might be forgetting when putting together your resume.

Not to fear. We’ll offer you a rundown of some resume mistakes that could cause you to lose out on a job interview. Here are the 10 most useless resumes employers don’t want anymore.

1. A resume with your photo

Woman and cat selfie

Leave the cute pictures for your Facebook profile. | iStock.com/Martinan

Unless you’re applying for an acting role or some other position where appearance is important, don’t include a picture of yourself. When you add a photo, it could put you in a position to be discriminated against based on race, age, or gender. Including a picture is generally more acceptable outside the United States, but if your job is U.S. based, your best bet is to forget the head shot.

Career expert Lisa Rangel told HR Bartender that including a photo also shows you don’t have a clear understanding of how the hiring process works. “In the U.S., employers are to make employment decisions based on qualifications and not appearance, race, gender, and other categories protected by labor laws,” Rangel said. “Photos give information that shouldn’t contribute to a hiring decision. Therefore, resumes in the U.S. don’t need and shouldn’t have pictures. Including a photo on U.S. resumes can send a message that the candidate doesn’t understand hiring protocols.”

Next: Your online presence matters.

 2. A resume without social media links

resume crumpled in cyan background

Show the interviewer you’re part of the digital age. | iStock.com/ragsac

We live in a digital age now. If you don’t have any social media accounts, now is the time to get at least one. At the bare minimum, you should have a LinkedIn account. This gives potential employers a brief look at your work history. Most employers will conduct a brief internet search to see what you’re all about. A CareerBuilder survey found 43% of employers check a candidate’s social media profiles. If you have little or no online presence, this could raise a red flag. Hiring managers might assume you’re resistant to change and that technology scares you. Don’t ruin your first impression before you’ve even met.

Next: Keep it short.

3. A resume that’s too long

business man working in office

Even if you’re a frustrated writer, don’t write your novel. | iStock.com/anyaberkut

A resume, unlike a curriculum vitae, should not be several pages long. Job seekers seem to get the two confused, so we’ll break it down for you. A curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin, is a document that can be two or more pages and contains detailed information about your professional achievements. The goal is to provide an account of your entire work experience. A resume, on the other hand, provides a brief summary of your work history. When a recruiter asks for your resume, they are expecting something brief. It’s generally best not to submit anything longer than two pages.

Next: Don’t stuff it.

4. A resume stuffed with keywords

resumes in folder saying rejected resumes

Don’t go overboard with keywords. | iStock.com/ziss

Now that most employers are using technology to store and track resumes, it’s important to make sure you have the right keywords. However, make sure you don’t overdo it. Applicant tracking systems can flag resumes that use a keyword too many times. In life and in job searching, moderation is key. So if you want a real, live human to get their hands on your resume, don’t go overboard trying to sell yourself.

Next: Stay relevant.

5. A resume with irrelevant work experience

fast food workers at McDonald's

Only list what is relevant. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Each resume and job application should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. Take the time to make sure the jobs and experience you have listed align with what the employer is requesting in the job description. No matter how impressive your performance was as a short-order cook at your local diner, it won’t matter if it’s completely unrelated to the job you’re trying to get, and you’d be hard-pressed to demonstrate transferable skills.

Next: Free time is your time.

6. A resume listing your interests and hobbies

Young woman with sun shape in sunscreen on her shoulder

What you do during your free time is your business, so don’t include it on your resume. | iStock.com/RossHelen

Do you like to take long walks on the beach or knit quietly by the fireplace? Are you the hot dog eating champion in your town? Chances are hiring managers don’t care about this. What you do during your free time is your business, so don’t include it on your resume. Unless your interests and hobbies are directly related to the job you’re applying for, it’s best not to mention it.

Next: What’s your objective?

7. A resume with an objective


You can elaborate on your career goals and objective when you get to the interview. | iStock.com

Objectives generally aren’t necessary anymore. You can elaborate on your career goals when you get to the interview. The only time an objective might be appropriate is when you are making a significant career change. This might give the interviewer a better understanding of why you’re applying for the job and could reduce your chances of getting passed over for an interview. As an alternative, career expert Kimberly Myers recommends including a professional summary.

Next: Give your eyes a break.

8. A resume with zero white space


Let your resume breathe. | iStock.com

Hiring managers and recruiters are reading dozens of resumes a day. Do yourself — and them — a favor, and let your resume breathe. Although it’s best to keep your resume to one or two pages, don’t try to win the page-count contest and squeeze everything onto one page. It’s better to have a readable resume that’s two pages than one with a layout so tight it looks like a newspaper.

Next: But use space sparingly.

9. A resume with too much white space

Blank projector canvas

Too much white space is bad. | iStock.com/lichaoshu

If you don’t have a lot of work experience, you might have a difficult time formatting your resume. You might be tempted to use a lot of space to stretch out the formatting. Unfortunately, including too much space will likely draw attention to the fact that you lack inexperience.  If you have volunteer experience, your best bet is to include that with the rest of your work history. Just make sure to identify it as such.

Next: And oldie but not goodie

10. An old resume

man giving thumbs down

Just say no to old resumes. | istock.com/SIphotography

As you gain more experience, you should be taking the time to update your work history. Once you’re in the interview (if you get that far), it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to email an updated version of your resume. Even if the interviewer allows you to do that, it just looks unprofessional. Failure to keep your work experience updated sends the message that you’re not serious about your career.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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