get these 10 things off your resume

What you don’t include on your resume can be as important as what you do include. Here are 10 things to make sure you leave off of your resume.

1. An objective. Resume objectives never help and often hurt. Not only do they feel outdated at this point, but they’re all about what youwant, rather than what this stage of the hiring process is all about — what the employer wants. Your resume should be about showing your experience, skills, and accomplishments. If you want to talk about how this particular position is the perfect next step in your career, use the cover letter for that.

2. Short-term jobs. Short-term jobs raise red flags for hiring managers, who will wonder if you were fired or couldn’t do the work or had trouble getting along with coworkers. Plus, a few months on a job won’t typically be useful in showing any real accomplishments or advancement anyway.

One exception to this rule is if the job was short-term because it was designed that way, like contract work or, say, working on a political campaign. Those won’t raise the sorts of questions above, because you’ll have an explanation that doesn’t reflect poorly on you.

3. A functional format. Functional resumes (which list skills and abilities without including a chronological job history) are widely hated by employers, since they easily mask limited work experience or significant work gaps and make it difficult to understand a candidate’s career progression. For most hiring managers, they’re an immediate red flag that you might be hiding something.

4. Your photo. Unless you’re applying for a job as a model or actor, photos of yourself have no place on your resume. Since your appearance has nothing to do with your ability to do the job, including a photo comes across as naïve and unprofessional.

5. A fancy design. Here’s what most hiring managers think when we see a resume with unusual design or use of color: Does this candidate think that their skills and achievements won’t speak for themselves? Do they not understand what employers are looking for? Do they put an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substance? (The obvious exception to this rule is if you’re applying for design jobs.)

6. Subjective descriptions. Your resume is for experience and accomplishments only. It’s not the place for subjective traits, like “great leadership skills” or “creative innovator.” Smart employers ignore anything subjective that applicant write about themselves because so many people’s self-assessments are wildly inaccurate, so your resume should stick to objective facts.

7. Any mention of high school. If you’re more than a few years past your high school graduation date, employers don’t care which high school you attended or how accomplished you were there. Keep any mention of high school off your resume.

8. Extra pages. If you’re in your twenties, your resume should only be one page; there’s not enough experience to justify a second one. If you’re older, two pages are fine, but you go over that limit at your own peril. Hiring managers may be spending only 20 or 30 seconds on your application initially, so extra pages are either ignored or they dilute the impact of the others. Your resume should be for highlights, not extensive detail.

9. Your salary. Resumes don’t typically include salary history, so candidates who include it come across as naïve. And by sharing that information unbidden, you’ll also compromise your negotiating power later.

10. Any mention of references, including a statement that “references are available upon request.” You don’t need to say that you’ll provide your references if asked, because that goes without saying. You’re not causing any harm by including that now-somewhat-dated statement, but it takes up space that you could use for something else.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 173 comments… read them below }

  1. AD*

    What do you think of hobbies on a resume? I don’t include them, because I think the space is far too precious, but I see it a lot, and often for positions above entry-level.

    1. Jamie*

      I think it’s silly to include hobbies, unless they are directly relevant to the work.

      If I’m hiring for tech support and you build gaming computers for fun, or work on open source software in your free time, that is excellent to include because it’s related and will give me areas of inquiry so you can showcase these skills.

      If you run marathons, grow your own award winning tomatoes, or paint seascapes featuring snapping turtles I’ll just wonder why you felt the need to point it out on your resume.

      1. AD*

        I agree, but enough people do it that I was wondering if I missed something. I’ll never forget one resume I read where one of the hobbies listed was “honey mustard”.

          1. AD*

            The best I can figure is that he was trying to stand out. Admittedly, I did pull the resume and show it to some other managers.

            1. A Bug!*

              Honey mustard seems oddly specific, but there are lots of people who have interest in making their own condiments. Often, the smaller producers of condiments got their start in their home kitchen making ketchup and jams for family and friends.

              If it’s not a cheap attempt to look wacky, then it might actually be indicative of an honest, deep interest in a subject. A lot of people’s stated interests are actually very shallow when you start talking to them about them.

              1. Jamie*

                I was wondering if they had a couple of screens open and that was meant for the grocerylist.doc and not resume.doc.

                Am I the only one totally craving honey mustard salad dressing right now?

                1. Alisha*

                  Yeah, that sounds good. My husband just bought a bunch of fresh produce. We’ll have to consider salads with honey mustard dressing for tomorrow’s dinner, and hopefully, we have enough honey mustard and ranch to whip up our own!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I would actually think it was hilarious if I saw “honey mustard” listed as a hobby or interest on a resume. I love that. (I’m not kidding; it’s way more personality than some of the other stuff people put there.)

          1. Another Emily*

            AAM do you think it could be good to include a couple of your favourite hobbies on a resume? It could show prospective employers a bit of your personality, that might suggest if you’d be a good fit or not.

            On the other hand, managers might find it weird or pointless. (At the moment my own hobbies are on there but I admit my resume is a bit out of date.)

        2. T*

          I work in a career services office and asked a student (engineering major) I was meeting with to remove that he is a certified scuba diver from his list of activities. He let me know that he will not be removing it because he is asked about it in every interview and it even helped him get an internship. I guess it just depends, as always, who is reading your resume.

            1. Long Time Admin*

              The very first job application I ever filled out asked for hobbies, references, and a lot of other personal information (possibly religion, too). When I interviewed, I was asked if I was planning to get married within the next couple of years, because they didn’t want to put a lot of training into young women who would become stay at home moms.


              1. Alisha*

                Prior to this stint, which is going into 8 months, the longest I’ve been out of work since graduating college at 21 was a couple of weeks. But some people in my field do have those kinds of job searches today – in fact, they court multiple offers even when they’re not looking. They’re all men. Most of the women in my field have been unemployed longer than I have (scary!), and all are late 20s through early 40s, which is considered to be the most common childbearing years for professionals, I guess. Either we’re all grossly incompetent, which I doubt, or employers don’t want to risk losing money on someone who will take maternity leave – or leave altogether.

                My area is rather famous for workplaces that are the opposite of egalitarian, and the vast majority of women here either wind up working low-wage pink-collar jobs or opting out of the workforce eventually. I am scared for my future, more than I could express. I don’t want kids and can’t have them safely even if I did, but you can’t say that in a cover letter or introductory phone call – and all the EEOC regulations in the world won’t change the subtle biases of the folks in charge. It breaks my heart when I look at all types of company websites, from our largest banks and hospitals, to our smallest start-ups, and it’s all men, except for the secretary and the marketing assistant.

                If you’re black, it’s even worse: We have no black middle-class to speak of, and our minority community lives in some of the most impoverished conditions in the nation. I mentored two promising young black developers, and they went out West because they hit a ceiling when they were only in their mid-late 20s.

              2. Swallow123*

                You think that’s bad? I had one interview in the 1970’s where they asked when I intended to have kids. Worse yet, the loans officer at the bank refused us a vehicle loan – on the off chance I might become pregnant and quit my job. We’ve certainly come a long way!

      2. KellyK*

        That makes sense to me. The only hobby-related things I’ve ever included are relevant volunteer positions.

        I would also mention any hobbies that are related to the organization’s mission or goals, but maybe in your cover letter rather than in your resume itself. For example, if I wanted to work for the SPCA, my cover letter would probably mention my pets and the volunteering I’ve done with rescue organizations, even if the job I was applying for wasn’t directly animal-related.

      3. Anonymous*

        If I’m hiring for tech support and you build gaming computers for fun, or work on open source software in your free time, that is excellent to include because it’s related and will give me areas of inquiry so you can showcase these skills.

        If you run marathons, grow your own award winning tomatoes, or paint seascapes featuring snapping turtles I’ll just wonder why you felt the need to point it out on your resume.

        According to a colleague of mine who does run marathons, the ‘prize’ you get for completing a marathon is automatically qualifying to run in another one. Someone with that sort of mindset might be ideally qualified for tech support….

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To answer the original question, honey mustard aside, I think it’s fine to include hobbies. I don’t do it personally and don’t really understand how it originally started being included (since it’s not about ability to do the job), but enough people do that it doesn’t come across as weird. Sometimes there’s something there that sparks a conversation; other times, it’s just ignored.

      1. Laura*

        I am only a few years out of undergrad, and my career center advised me that it was “old fashioned” and wasted space. I took my hobbies off. However, at my current company (consulting), all employees resumes are public and encouraged that we look at eachothers to pick our teams based on relevant background. ANYWAY, all of my co-workers went to top caliber schools, and they all include a lengthy list of travel and hobbies. They all had very robust career centers and very high-power jobs. I am starting to wonder if this is more important to include than I thought.

      2. Esra*

        It can be useful in some industries. I’m a graphic designer, but I list illustration, painting, sewing/embroidery in a hobbies section on my resume because even though I don’t do those things professionally, they can come in handy in a designer.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Similarly, I’m a teacher, and have included things like hiking/backpacking/canoeing, cooking, and guitar in a list on my resume (though I think I called it Interests rather than Hobbies, and lumped it together with skills like being able to speak some Spanish). Sometimes those things can relate to my job. I think that helped me get my current job where coordinating outdoor education trips is one of my responsibilities.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Interestingly, I was just advising a manager yesterday who is hiring people to work with kids, and she mentioned that she loves seeing stuff about art, music, etc. that don’t relate to teaching directly but are things she knows they could bring to the program beyond the official job descriptions.

      3. nyxalinth*

        I got one of my call center jobs because I had “Online multi-player games” listed. When the guy interviewing me asked which one, I told him “World of Warcraft” then explained that I’d learned a lot about teamwork, cooperation, and dealing with disagreeable people. I also told him I was a casual player who limited playing times to days off. I got the position, partly because I was able to tie in what I learned form it to the job, and partly because he played too :D I don’t list it anymore, because I’m going a different direction in my career goals and don’t think it will help.

      4. Kathryn T.*

        The year my brother was both the Director of Photography on an independent film that was getting some local screenings AND driving from London to Mongolia in a tiny car as part of a charity rally, he included those facts on his resume during a job search. The interview that finally landed him a job involved about 20 minutes talking about his skills and experience and about 90 minutes talking about the adventures he’d had on that charity rally. (Which were many.)

        He’s looking again, six years later, because while he’s quite good at his job his company is moving in a direction he’s less pleased in. Because the economy is in a really different place now, he is regretfully leaving off everything that isn’t directly related to his employment history, since he doesn’t want to look like a diva. As much as it pains me to admit it, I think that’s probably a good idea.

          1. Kathryn T.*

            Well maybe I’ll advise him to put them back on, then. It’s so hard to know what the best thing is to do. Put all the stuff on that shows you to be an interesting, well-rounded person? Or leave that off because employers care a lot more about what you do at work than what you do on your off-hours?

      1. Kerry*

        Yes, it is! I moved from the US to the UK after a few years in the workforce, and it was sort of funny (in retrospect) how hiring managers had a slight undercurrent of confusion and panic when I didn’t list any interests or outside activities at all on my resume/CV. I can’t explain why, but employers in the UK seem to be really put off if they think an employee is going to be TOO eager/keen/not have a life outside work.

        1. nyxalinth*

          I think it’s because they have a far better grasp of work and life balance and prefer well-rounded people with a life outside of work. Here in America, they like hiring meat robots :P

    3. Lexy*

      This isn’t really “hobbies” so it might not be relevant to your question, but I hope it helps.

      I have extensive volunteer experience with two local non-profits, one very well known and one smaller. I also worked in my field for a non-profit when I was finishing my degree a couple of years ago. All of this is on my resume although the volunteer stuff takes up only two lines under the header “Community”.

      In my last interview the interviewer asked me about the work in my field, and about the less well known non-profit. We ended up having a long conversation about the organizations and he commented at the end “Your eyes light up when we talk about this, it must mean a lot to you.”

      I got an offer… which I guess means it at least didn’t hurt? I think if your hobbies are things you are really passionate about and it’s not just “I enjoy knitting” but “I’m active in a group of crafters that organizes monthly get togethers and has a twice yearly charity-drive (or whatever) then it will help you seem more well-rounded and less like a job applicant robot .

      1. A Bug!*

        “I think if your hobbies are things you are really passionate about”

        Yes, I agree completely. If you have to spend more than three seconds coming up with your hobbies and interests, then they’re not important enough to you as a person to give any useful information to the person reading your resume.

        (Unfortunately, I think what my hobbies and interests say about me as a person is “Turn around and walk the other way, this lady is super, DUPER boring”.)

        1. Lexy*

          Ha! Luckily I’m an accountant so very few hobbies would be more boring than my actual profession :)

        2. Jamie*

          I don’t have any. Unless the word hobby could be corrupted to mean falling asleep while watching TV – I really don’t have any and haven’t for at least ten years.

          I work – and when home I spend time with my family and clean the house…and when not doing either of those things I fall asleep in front of the tv.

          I am REALLY glad this stuff isn’t required on a resume – there is no way to make that sound good.

          1. Anonymous*

            – Manages organization of familial schedules and coordinates delegation of household tasks

            – Responsible for weekly review of televised entertainment, including post-viewership slumber session for increased effectiveness.

              1. Jamie*

                That is awesome!! If you ever want to write resumes for a living you certainly have the gift.

          2. Camellia*

            This! I don’t have any specific hobbies either, and when I say that, people then ask, “Well, what do you do for fun?” as if phrasing it differently will make me suddenly discover some overlooked activity. And since “have sex with my husband” isn’t usually the answer people are looking for, I don’t really know what to say. :)

            1. Ellie*

              Oh man . . . I don’t even know how to answer this question when I get asked it on dates. My honest answer is “Read the newspaper, go to the gym, read Russian literature, do crossword puzzles, listen to NPR” but I feel like this sounds sooooooo staid and boring, especially as I’m only 24. Of course, I could give Camellia’s answer too, but that’s a bit forward for a first date . . .

    4. Julie*

      I include it when the hobby provides some sort of relevant-to-work experience, which I suppose might make it more of a “volunteer/extracurricular” section than a true “hobbies” section. So I might include that I’m a columnist for Chocolate Teapot Quarterly, or that I lead workshops on chocolate teapot making or take the minutes for or was the president of the local chapter of Chocolate Teapot Makers Intl. But just saying “I like chocolate teapot making” doesn’t seem to add anything to a resume, IMHO.

      1. Jamie*

        “But just saying “I like chocolate teapot making” doesn’t seem to add anything to a resume, IMHO.”

        I don’t know about that…I would think if a resume including any reference to chocolate teapots were to cross the desk of an AAM reader it would certainly be noticed – like some weird secret handshake.

        Not recommended – but funny.

      2. COT*

        I tend to group it under “Community Involvement.” I can list volunteer positions as well as professional associations or hobbies that might be relevant to the particular position.

        My mom runs a nanny placement agency, and because the relationship between nanny and family is personal as well as professional, she always asks prospective nannies how they unwind after a stressful day. It gives insight into hobbies the nanny may share with the children as well as proof that the nanny understands her needs, self-care, healthy living, and work-life balance.

        I’ve taken to asking the same question when I conduct interviews for some roles in my organization. Because I work in social services, the work can be stressful and lead to a lot of burnout if you don’t have appropriate boundaries. I don’t really care what my candidates do after work so much as I care that they have something else positive going on in their lives outside of work. It also helps me understand other factors in that person’s schedule, especially when I am hiring them as a PT volunteer or intern and can assume they have other life demands.

        This isn’t true of all fields and workplaces, I’m sure–I know some employers would rather you DON’T have too many commitments beyond your job and they don’t really care about your wellness. But a good manager in any sector will want their employees to be taking care of themselves.

        That said, I wouldn’t ever care whether or not those hobbies are mentioned on a resume.

    5. anon-2*

      One never knows what can happen – good or bad – if you include a hobby or pastime on your resume.

      Things that can be good –
      – amateur radio (a techie job? yes..)
      – volunteering for charities or service organizations
      – photography (creativity)
      – travel, camping (shows degree of normalcy)

      Things that can be bad –
      – offbeat hobbies (comic book collecting, punk rock music)
      – the wildly unusual (use your imagination)
      – dangerous activities (perceived or otherwise)
      – radical political activities (either left or right)

      One might have a hobby or avocation that some might seem very odd or strange — and a manager wouldn’t care if he/she found out about it, but might if you discussed it during an interview. You may be demonstrating bad judgement in discussing such a thing in an interview. Example – you volunteer for one side or another on gun control, or abortion rights.

      The interviewer may be totally in tune with you. But the fact that you brought it up, either on the resume, or discussion, shows poor judgement in that situation.

      1. Jamie*

        “You may be demonstrating bad judgement in discussing such a thing in an interview. Example – you volunteer for one side or another on gun control, or abortion rights.”

        I agree that it’s the judgment in discussing polarizing beliefs in an interview (or at work) that is the issue – not the beliefs themselves. I don’t care what deeply held beliefs people have, if they aren’t work related and you bring them up at this juncture I am concerned that you don’t understand how boundaries work.

        1. Jamie*

          Wow – I don’t even know how to apologize for the grammatical atrocities I committed in that comment.

          I either need to start proofing my work or get a job writing for lolcatz.

    6. mh_76*

      If you know who is going to be reading your resume before you send it in, it might not hurt to do some research about them and, if you have any hobbies in common, add those to that version of your resume. Even if their group hobbies are carried out in different groups (community music groups, etc.) than yours, you might know people in their groups and they might know people in yours…or maybe one of you is an “alum” of the other group. Maybe (for individual hobbies), you’ll learn that (example) both of you read Willa Cather & James Herriott in junior high school (the couple/few years before High School in the US) or are working on the same knitting pattern.

    7. Greg*

      One thing to be careful of: Make sure that if you list something on your resume, you can back it up. If you say you’re fluent in a language, prepare for the possibility that your interviewer may ask you a question in that language.

      I used to list improv comedy classes as a hobby. I had an interviewer say, “Tell me a joke!” I totally froze (OK, not really. But the only jokes that came to mind were either too long or too dirty).

      1. Alisha*

        If the employer states a preference for candidates who like a certain thing (rock n’ roll, architecture, whatever), I’ll mention that in my cover letter. But recently, I applied at a company that expressly stated a preference for candidates who enjoyed danger, risky hobbies, etc. That’s not me, unless pot et. al. counts, and I doubt that. “Active in [professional group]” and “assists [people in specialty within field] in [a, b, and c] development activities” just doesn’t have the sexiness of bungee-jumping or white-water rafting, so I’m not expecting a call back. : )

  2. M*

    When you talk about leaving off short term jobs, wouldn’t it leave an unexplainable gap on the CV? I left my first job after 5 months for 2 reasons: because the job wasn’t a good fit, I saw no future in it and was frustrated, and to go back to school for further studies.

    I did some substantial work there although it was short and I would like future employers to know about it. Would putting it on the resume reflect badly on me or would leaving it out leave a glaring gap and raise questions as to why I did not mention it? Can’t figure this out :/

    1. Kristinyc*

      I wonder about that too! For the last two summers, I have had 3-month long contract/freelance positions (one was because I had just moved to a new city and it was the first job I could get, and the other was because I had been laid off in April and again, needed a paycheck while I looked for something longer-term).

      When I was interviewing for my current job, I was asked about my “job hopping” ways, even though I have “(Freelance/Contract)” listed after those job titles. If I left them out, there would be two 3-month gaps within a year!

      1. Student*

        If it’s freelance work, just group them together. Talk about them as separate projects that you worked on while freelancing. Your job is “Chocolate Teapot Freelancer” and these were two clients you took on to help with different projects. In practical terms, it might’ve been more like two different jobs from a payment perspective, but if the job duties were remotely similar it’ll work. List the time as Summers.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Kristin, you fall under the “intentionally short-term” exemption in the article. M, it’s harder to say with you — it’s really a judgment call. Short-term jobs (that weren’t intended to be short-term) do raise questions like the ones I talked about in the article, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a good explanation for it. You’ve got to weigh the flags it may raise against the pros of leaving it on.

      1. COT*

        How do you feel about listing only the years, not the months, of employment? That can hide short gaps in a resume more easily and make it less obvious that you’re omitting some short-term positions. Do employers find that too vague or misleading?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If the job was for a long period of time — say, 2005-2010, that’s fine; I don’t care about exact months in that situation; it’s clear it was a solid stay. But if I just see “2008” listed, or 2008-2009, I’m going to wonder if it was just a few months, and I’ll usually ask. But no one is going to reject you immediately just for listing it that way — the worst that will happen is that they ask you about it.

          1. mh_76*

            Yep – I use years-only because my resume would be too long if I used months, thanks to having had a number of contract positions. I also use years-only because I held 3 jobs in a row with one employer and like to emphasize the amount of time that I worked for them (better part of 8 years and the brief gap was because my graduating brought one job, in a Univ. Bigshot’s office or else it wouldn’t be listed at all, to an end).

          2. Anonymous*

            Glad to hear this. Someone saw my resume recently and said she eliminated resumes without months listed because there could be hidden unemployed gaps. My resume showed a current position for 20 years, a previous job at the same employer for 5 years, and a first job after college for 3 years. I can’t see gaps being a big issue in that case, even if they existed.

            1. Greg*

              That person was an idiot. She eliminated candidates because they used a common resume convention that *might* indicate they were trying to hide something, but more likely means nothing at all?

                1. Alisha*

                  I use months because when I was a new grad, some career advisor beat it into my head that year-only date ranges were unacceptable. Of course, that’s just her opinion, and as we’ve learned, advisors give notoriously outdated or inaccurate advice to young people!

                  Like mh, I was at my last job for a long time, and I guess my reasoning for using months is similar to her reasoning for using years. I left that job close to the end of the year for the disaster job (which isn’t on my resume), so I feel that it makes my total time unemployed seem shorter. Maybe I’ll try the years-only date range format now that I’m past six months out of work anyway, because apparently, even if there’s some leeway due to economic conditions, I keep hearing that they (the royal “they”) expect you to at least find temp/contract work by the 6-month mark. Unfortunately for me, that type of work is even more difficult to land than a full-time job. In my area, most temp work is secretarial in nature and/or geared toward more junior candidates. I do apply for any temp/contract work I’d be qualified to perform, but there’s no interest in me.

            2. Laura L*

              My impression is that listing years works better for older people who have held jobs or, at least, worked at the same company for a while. One of my parents showed me their resume and jobs were listed by years, not months.

              I’m young and haven’t been with any one organization long enough to justify that, though. Personally, I think it makes me look better to list months because it shows exactly how long I was in each job.

  3. Anonymous*

    How important is the 1 page rule? My resume is 2 pages and I had it looked over by career councilors (don’t judge them yet). They seemed to think the 2 pages were fine. While I’m still in my 20s (and still attending university) I have had a lot of part time jobs, volunteering, and an exchange under my belt. I find it hard to keep all of that to 1 page without doing myself a disservice by not expressing my experience. (I understand that a lot of the experience isn’t directly related to the jobs I’m applying for now, but there are some transferable skills).

    1. Jamie*

      I can’t speak for others – but if you’re still in school and it’s two pages that’s a lot. Unless you truly have so much relevant experience that it’s clear you needed to detail it all, it just looks somewhat naive, imo.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I agree. Keep in mind that the most qualified, most senior candidates often have the shortest resumes — because they can edit and use judgment about what’s important. You don’t need two pages in your 20s.

        1. Jamie*

          I just had to redo mine recently so I checked – mine is 1.25 pages.

          And I am definitely not in my 20s.

          I’ll be honest though, resumes are tough for me because brevity is not my strong suit. For others, like me, who have difficulty keeping it short I suggest bullet points – they force you to summarize.

        2. Anonymous*

          Alright so in the hopes of shortening my resume I have a few questions (kind of related to the hobbies comment above). For the exchange I mentioned, I went to school in a place that spoke a different language for 3 months, but I did this in high school. I feel this really shows how flexible, adaptable, willing to take risk, etc. I am. It was 4 years ago though, so should I still have that on my resume?

          I have also received a high level certificate for Royal Conservatory Piano. We’re talking about years of practice and rigorous testing here. It’s 2 bullet points on my resume, but is it just totally unnecessary? (Not to blame everything on the career councilor, but she told me to leave it on). What about volunteer work that was done 3-5 years ago?

          I understand how little relevant experience I have as a student. So I have the temptation to put everything I’ve ever done on my resume to show some kind of competence.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Nothing from high school, and the piano should take up one bullet point, not two! Ignore career counselors unless they’ve done significant amounts of hiring, recently.

          2. Kathryn T.*

            If you still have strong skills in the language, you can probably include that under “Other Skills” or something like that. Multiple language proficiency is definitely a bonus, I’d think.

          3. COT*

            For listing volunteer experience, I think it matters a lot how significant your volunteer commitment was, how recent it was, and whether or not the skills are relevant to the job you’re seeking. Just like you’d list for a former job.

            If you volunteered once a month for two hours five years ago… not that relevant. I don’t really care that you helped build a house for one day last year. (And I find this especially true with people who volunteered in college–it was often mandatory to do a bit of service, so don’t brag unless you went above and beyond that.)

            Any volunteering is great, don’t get me wrong, but it won’t look really impressive on a resume unless it shows some dedication. Now, if you spent two years mentoring a child, or are on a nonprofit board, or recently held a volunteer position that built your professional skills, please share that. Don’t bother to list every single thing you volunteered for in the past five years. If nothing else, you could add one phrase like “active community volunteer” without delving into all of the details of one-time or minimal volunteer experiences.

            (I’m a volunteer coordinator, for what that’s worth.)

            1. Victoria*

              Totally agreed. When folks include their week-long service trips, especially overseas, it tells me more about their financial resources than their commitment to service.

              However – my organization coordinates a very large, very well-known single day of service event. (Why am I being coy? We run the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service – the first and largest King Day of Service event in the country.) If you tell me that you’ve participated in our event? Definitely a plus. Even better if you elaborate on your experience.

              1. AD*

                Why would that stand out more than the week overseas? Because it is a personal connection to your company?

                I have done the MLK day of service several times (though not in Philly), and I have never seen a bigger waste of time and resources. Perhaps yours is far better run than my local one, but I think I actually did about 30 minutes of actual service.

                1. Victoria*

                  Yes, because it’s a personal connection to my organization. It means they have a sense of what we do, that they thought it was interesting or valuable enough to want to work for us.

                  The King Day of Service is in its 18th year in Philadelphia, so there are people who have been participating in it for most of their lives. The total number of hours they served doesn’t necessarily add up to all that much (if King Day is their only service),but the years of involvement does tell me something about the candidate – at the very least, that they value the King Day of Service.

                  As for whether the King Day of Service is a waste of time, the value of the service (obviously) varies from project to project. The value of a single day of service, in general, is definitely worth talking about. What gets me excited about what we do on King Day is three things: 1) the cumulative value of what is accomplished, 2) the act of honoring Dr. King with service (separate from the value of what’s accomplished), and 3) the opportunity to leverage the attention and excitement about King Day into an ongoing culture of service.

    2. kbbaus*

      Good question! I’m in my late 20s and my resume is 2 pages. I’ve been at the same company for 5 years, but have had consistent promotions and even a move to a new department. My resume shows each of those moves because each one came with more responsibility and different tasks/skills.

      1. Jamie*

        With consistent promotions, some of the skills from previous positions tend to be less relevant so I drop them. Listing the titles and promotions is great – but the details don’t need to stay constant.

        For example, if someone went from Office Manager > Staff Accountant > CFO I would put the details of CFO and leave off anything under the other two – unless they are unusual and relevant in an atypical way.

        I think this is where people run into multiple pages, is that as their careers progress they do have more stuff to add to their resumes – but a lot of people just add instead of replacing data.

        If you only have so much room in your closet when you buy new clothes you weed out the stuff you don’t wear any more instead of expanding your closet.

  4. Catherine*

    I have something to add to the list – conferences you have attended. Yes yes, I know for CVs and academic jobs they want to know the conferences you PRESENTED at, but not ATTENDED. And those types of CVs are also only for faculty positions, the vast majority of the time. Please, I don’t care that you learned how to make greeting cards in Photoshop. I really don’t. (Note: this was for a tech support job, not a design job. That resume still gives me nightmares.)

    1. Jamie*

      Did the person who mentioned greeting cards in photoshop also mention “internet” under skills?

      Because I think I’ve seen that resume…

      1. Catherine*

        I believe she did, as in “internet search skills” (not exaggerating). So she can google…well I can too. That’s mostly what I do but it’s listed as “tech support” in my resume. :)

        1. Emily*

          I always feel slightly torn about what I consider bare minimum computer skills for working in the 21st century (using the Internet/Google, Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint), because I hate to waste space on such a “duh” item when I have a lot of advanced computer skills, but then some employers actually wasted space on these “duh” items in their job descriptions and may not recognize the significance of my more advanced skills.

          The solution I came up with is to reduce it all to a single line, so my Skills section has a line that looks like:

          Computer Skills: Microsoft Office, Internet coding (HTML, CSS), Teapot Management Software (Popular Title, Competitor Title, Obscure Title), Teacup Management Software (Popular Title, Competitor Title, Obscure Title)

          Now I’ve included the items their job ad asked for, as well as my advanced industry-specific computer skills, without taking up any additional space compared to listing only the more advanced skills.

        2. Ariancita*

          You know, everyone agrees that MS Office is a “duh” skill. However, I’ve learned that in so so many cases, people use the software but don’t actually really know how to use it (none of the advanced features, don’t know what a master page/slide/sheet is or how to access it, how to create templates, heck, don’t even know how to set a tab and use style sheets). This is a huge issue because when files need to be shared and worked on by multiple people, it causes major issues and time waste. So I think there may be a case for adding “Advanced MS Office.” Or not???

          1. Jamie*

            Absolutely! The examples you described are things very helpful for a hiring manager to know – as are advanced excel functions. If you know how to concatenate in Excel it’s a safe bet you also know how to change the font in a cell. If you list that you “know Excel” that is not a safe bet at all.

            So many resumes reference Office skills – but there are a lot of people who think because they can open a .doc sent to them in email they are proficient in Word.

            If you have proficiency beyond the basics (and the job calls for it) definitely include it. If it’s just the basics then I wouldn’t even mention it as at this point it should go without saying.

            1. Sandrine*

              Not quite related to “duh” proficiency in software like Word and “internet search skills” but, working as a customer service rep for a huge cell phone provider in France usually makes me rethink my “I’m a GEEK, I can do this! YEAH!” moments. Like when I use ctrl+c instead of “highlight/right click/copy” or when I make folders and filters in Thunderbird at work because I hate mixing things up…

              Exemple of a typical conversation at work :

              Me : What browser do you use ?
              Customer : Google.
              Me : Google Chrome, or the Google website ?
              Customer : Just Google.
              Me : When you go on the Internet, do you click a blue e with a yellow circle ?
              Customer : Yes!
              Me : …

              I know, it’s silly, and not everyone is like that, but still. One of the customers I started a similar conversation with even got snotty with me because I dared advise her to change browsers, and from her name and location and way of speaking I pictured her as someone supposedly highly educated…

              To translate this into the discussion, I have to admit I am not surprised if/when people include things about what they can do. Which reminds me, I SO have to redo that section myself when I go looking again… now that I’m re-reading it, it doesn’t really highlight anything XD .

              1. mh_76*

                Did you tell the customer that s/he had an eye-dee-ten-tee problem (with a serious tone in your voice)? The spelling of that problem is…wait for it…ID-10-T. Heard that one years ago, is always good for a chuckle! Although if you’re in France, it might not translate because of how differently the letter-names are pronounced…and that the numbers have completely different names…maybe it will work…eee-day-dix-tay problem…hmmm…(thinking as I type)

                1. Sandrine*

                  I love this. I think my boss might end up understanding and I’d get in trouble if he listened to one of my calls but I’ll have to keep it in mind :D

  5. Student*

    What’s your stance on how long the Education section of a resume should be vs Work Experience for a student who’s just graduating?

    Should the student try to emphasize the work experience to prove they know how to show up on time and get work done, or should they emphasize the college activities that tie into the job they’re applying for? It seems like a intelligence (college) vs. wisdom (work experience) dilemma, and I’m never really sure which is more important to hiring managers who are looking at entry level employees.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends to some extent on the field and what type of work vs activities the person had, but in general they should emphasize work. It’s what most employers care about.

      But my answer would be different if, say, all the work was food service.

      1. Scott Woode*

        Most of my work has been food service over the past few years, and while I’ve been working in a receptionist role for the past 9 months or so, I feel I should update my resume. I’m inclined to list my restaurant employment under a section entitled “Hospitality Experience.” Most of those jobs have lasted 6-9 months, but I’ve had a couple for up to 2 years (in one case, 9 years with continuous growth in the role). Because of the nature of turnover in the industry, and the fact that for awhile I serially opened restaurants because I liked it (and I was very good at developing regulars), will that hurt the way that employers look at my resume? Will I be considered a flake who can’t keep a job instead of someone who thrives on the excitement of new culinary pursuits in hospitality? How do I make it clear to future employers that what I care most about is hospitality and my dedication to excellent service in my roles, be they administrative or otherwise in nature?

        Do you have any suggestions?

        1. MentalEngineer*

          I like the framing also. Additionally, speaking purely as an amateur who happens to read a lot of restaurant help-wanted ads in DC (which thinks it’s becoming a foodie town), the more interesting places seem to be begging to hire people who present themselves in the way you do.

    2. AD*

      What are you putting under the “education” section? Are you talking about campus activities where you had legitimate leadership roles? If so, you should absolutely list them, but as with your work history, you want to do your best to focus on objective accomplishments (e.g. Lambda Lambda Lambda Philanthropy Chair: increased fundraising for Chocolate Teapot Foundation by 15% over previous year).

      Also, any academic awards should be listed, and if you specialized in something specific within your major (e.g. you are a marketing major, but you took all of your elective classes in international marketing), that belongs on there, too.

      What I don’t like to see, or rather, what comes off as filler, is a long list of the classes you’ve taken or in-class projects you’ve completed*. If there is a course or two very related to the position, you can mention that in your cover letter (e.g. “My course in social media was one of my favorites, and I’m eager for the opportunity to use what I’ve learned to help your company expand its online presence”).

      Sorry, that was long-winded, but the main point is to show the hiring manager what you can do, more than what you know.

      *If you did some sort of capstone for a real company, you can list it. I just don’t care about your presentation for Leadership 101 or the like.

      1. Student*

        I have a decent amount of actual job experience, so I’m keeping my education section as short as I feel I can. University, bachelors degrees, date, GPA, University, graduate degree, date, GPA, two-line dissertation summary, one line on graduate fellowships (awards).

        My biggest problem with this is that it still takes up about 12 lines when you throw in minimal formatting to make it legible (bullet points, header, and white space). Listing the graduate degree is important enough to merit some space, but I feel like it’s too much space for one specific credential. It also leaves off any mention whatsoever of any leadership in school activities, or school activities that are field-related (community outreach). I feel fine about not listing honor societies and school groups, but I feel like listing the community outreach might humanize me a bit more if I could fit it in.

        I’ve thought about chopping the education section down dramatically, but I put each thing in for a reason, and I’m not sure which parts are less informative to the hiring manager. I feel an obligation to have a significant education section since I’m just graduating, like I’d look weird if I slashed it all down to one or two lines. Maybe that’s a misguided impulse.

        At the end of the day, I’ve only got 5 inches to put my work experience in if I want to keep it to one page. The other 4 inches are filled with name, contact info, and that education section. So my resume goes to 1.5 pages instead and I probably need to cut some white space, shrink the font, shrink the 1-inch margins, or cut some education in favor of work experience (and probably cut some work experience too).

        1. Lexy*

          This is probably something you have already tried, but just in case.

          When I was just leaving school I had a lot of activities/accomplishments to fit in my Education section but also had three relevant jobs I had during school and an internship, plus I went back to school a little later and had a five year relevant work history before school. My field is pretty strict about one page resumes for new grads and it definitely would have been frowned upon.

          So, I put multiple school items on one line separated by tabs/white space. It looked a little like this:
          SCHOOL NAME
          BS [Degree] [latin honors] [Date awarded]
          [GPA] [departmental honors]
          [University awards] [awards]

          I also put my campus work (like your community outreach) in my experience section, even though it was through the University.

          Hope that helps!

          Now that I’m out of school I just put my degree, latin honors, and date awarded. I’ll probably drop the latin honors eventually but dammit, I worked hard for that!

        2. fposte*

          I’d definitely trim your education; I don’t even see how what you describe is twelve lines. One line for undergrad, one line for grad, cut the dissertation description, one line for award. If you must include GPAs, keep them on the same line.

  6. Suzanne*

    I’m trying to change careers as the career I’m in is heading down a long, lonely, desolate path quickly. In other words, there is almost no hiring going on and not likely to be any in the near future. So, everyone I have asked has told me to use a functional resume to highlight my skills, not my work history as all my work history is in the field I’m trying to steer away from. (And by everyone, I mean everyone, from my old college’s career center, to friends, to people I know in business). But, after reading this, I guess I go back to the drawing board for the millionth time…

    1. Anonymous*

      Interesting. It was recommended to me in military transition training that I do a functional resume and I wondered if I should send the article to them.

      It was recommended becuase my whole career particularly my last position was not actually in the field I was job hunting in, but I did have some older experience in my dream field. However I did not change my resume because I was lazy and got a job through an unusual path before I got started on an intensive job hunt.

      1. Anonymous*

        If I recall correctly, they also recommended an objective but it was more along the lines of a job title. I actually think that an objective on a resume might come in handy at job fairs where you hand out un-tailored resumes. But Alison has convinced me it is a waste of space on a resume you send in for a particular job.

    2. Ariancita*

      Think about why you’d want to use a functional resume. It sounds like because, while your job titles are not inline with your new career goals, some of the skills/accomplishments you’ve had in those roles are relevant. I would suggest you choose those skills/accomplishments to highlight under your jobs. I would also add a Qualifications Summary at the top, highlighting those areas you want the resume reader to focus on, so you are framing how the resume should be read. You don’t need a functional resume to highlight those achievements. And anything else, descriptive examples of why your past experience would enable you to excel in your new direction can be (and should be) addressed in the cover letter.

      1. MovingRightAlong*

        I’m in a similar position to Suzanne in that I’m trying to change careers, but many of my previous positions have relevant parallels that I’m attempting to highlight. Including a Qualifications Summary sounds like it might be useful, but this is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing. Are there certain conventions I’d want to follow if I wrote one in terms of both format or content?

        I also feel a little weird limiting my work history. I know that generally hiring managers only care about your most recent work, but since I’m switching up entirely, I feel like some of my earlier jobs are just as relevant. Some of the ones in between, such as my freelance work (which is all just listed under the title “Freelance Chocolate Teapot Designer” with some bullet points, but it’s still taking up space), not so much. Leaving such positions off, however, would show a lot of weird gaps. Completely explainable in an interview, but I feel like I’m already at a disadvantage to people who have relevant job titles or degrees on their resumes.

        1. COT*

          I don’t know if this is a good idea or not… but could you place your work experience under two groupings? One could be “recent experience” to demonstrate your solid employment history, while another section could be titled something like “other relevant experience” with a brief overview of whatever other past jobs are related to the role you’re seeking.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          On a Summary or Profile: One thing that I always tell people who are trying to figure out what they might write there: Imagine what you’d say if you were explaining to a friend what you’re all about as a professional and what makes you great at it, and then write that down. Is there something there that gets close to the heart of how you want an employer to view you, how you’d want them to sum you up in 20 seconds if they were talking to a colleague and said, “I’m really excited about this candidate who _____”?

          You can also try thinking about what you’d want a contact to say if they had 20 seconds to sum you up to someone who was hiring for the work you do, and see if that leads you anywhere.

        3. Ariancita*

          For Qualifications Summary: It should be placed first on your resume (under your contact details) because you’re trying to frame the resume for the reader. It’s just a few lines highlighting the relevant experience (think of it as your 10 second elevator speech).

          For older jobs: I know what you mean and I’ve done something similar to what COT suggests. I have “Professional Experience” with my reverse chronological jobs, then “Teaching Experience” because I have been in academia working on PhD so I wanted to keep the info there but separate it (not bunch it in with the other stuff), and then I have “Other Professional Experience” which lists my older jobs but are important to be on there because of certain skills and to show that I do have real world working experience (not just in academia). I’ve received a lot of compliments on my resume. But others, especially those who hire, might disagree with this approach. So see what others have to say as well (and I’m always open to constructive criticism).

      2. Just Me*

        Thanks. Yes I think that is my problem as well. My titles do not match the jobs and I am probably being passed over because of that. I want to change the type of job I doI have been trying to format my resume to help catch the eyes of the HR/hiring managers.

        I have been relying more on my cover by saying…. ” I am looking to use my skills in another direction… ” and then highlight the things I have done more on my cover and skills summary to match the job requirements. I have gotten 1 bite on that way pre-screen and then a face to face. No job offer though aarrg..
        I am getting bites on my regular cover/resume where I am applying to positions of jobs I have a lot more background in. I have gotten 3 bites on those with screens and or interviews but nothing came about. I hesitate to change my cover too much as I am getting bites. I think I just need to interview better!

        I keep looking at my cover/resume to change it enough where it is not functional but highlights what I need to show other transferable skills I have.

        I will keep forging ahead !!

        Also… quick question… I put in my cover that I want to get a job closer to home. Should I hightlight as a prime issue? It is important but I do not want to just take anything either. How would you put that? Thanks,,,

  7. ChristineH*

    Instead of an Objective, what about Professional Profile or Summary — anything that sums up my skills and experience? Right now, I just have a general resume (for job fairs, networking, etc) and just recently tried to rewrite my summary, but just realized it probably still looks like an Objective. Help!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Profile and Summary sections are fine, although make sure they truly sum up what you’re all about as a candidate and aren’t just filled with jargon. It’s objectives that are dated.

    2. Jamie*

      I have a little summary – and by little I mean it’s one sentence (fragment).

      Full disclosure, I haven’t had to use my resume since I revamped it – work required a new one for all management, but it hasn’t been vetting since the only people who’ve seen it hired me years ago.

      But when I wrote the summary I did it thinking of how candidates get described when being discussed after interviews. I.e. not specific details as much as relevant generalizations. I would imagine if someone were discussing my candidacy amongst others I might be “the IT who also had that ISO stuff, and cost accounting…oh and wasn’t she an internal auditor?” So I look at the summary as a way to cliff note the big picture and mentioning the size and industry of my current company.

      If you had to tell someone what you do in a couple of sentences what would you say? That’s a good place to start.

  8. Liz T*

    I no longer have my high school on my resume, but: my HS is well-known in my city, and I’ve twice been hired by alumni. (One of them in my city whom I met at an alumni event; one of them hundreds of miles from my city, and I only found out during the second interview–we sang the school song together.) Any thoughts on this? I removed it to make room for grad school, and due to common sense, but now that I’m moving to a two-page format, I’m tempted to put it back on in some cases.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t do it! For the good it might do you with alumni, it will do you harm with everyone else (because it will look odd and naive to have it listed).

    2. Jamie*

      I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine a single scenario where I would see high school and grad school on the same resume and not find that really strange.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’ve heard of people do it if they’re trying to move back home from out of state. Its a way of saying “I have roots here” without getting into specifics in your cover letter.

    3. MovingRightAlong*

      I feel like this is precisely what a LinkedIn profile is for. Maybe they don’t look you up, but if they do, it’s because they’re seeking an even more complete picture of you. There might even be an alumni group for your school (if not, maybe you can start one!).

    4. Any*

      Not to pile on, but for the sake of others reading who might still think it’s a good idea: I went to a fancy-pants private high school, and I still find it incredibly annoying when someone lists his or her high school on a resume.

      1. Any*

        After scrolling down further and reading SisterTech81’s post, I’ll add that I’m only reviewing resumes for positions that require a college degree.

    5. mh_76*

      What if…only if, for sake of discussion, you know –in advance– that whomever will be reading your resume went to your HS, that you liked (or didn’t know) that person, and that (if) you are one of the few people who liked HS. I always leave my HS off, even though it was a Big Name Private School, because it was the worst 4 years of my life. My younger brother could (hypothetically…if he wanted) include his (different) BNPS because he had an overall good experience there, it’s a BNPS, and there are a lot of people all over the world who went to that school and still feel some “school spirit”. It is on his LI profile already.

      Also: Why do some Big Name Placement Agencies still require applicants to put their HS on forms and in Black Hole systems, even if those applicants have finished college?

      1. fposte*

        This is the house seller’s “What if somebody absolutely *loves* my purple walls?” The odds of its working against you are much greater than its working for you. You can’t put everything you’ve ever done, thought, or looked at on your resume in case your hiring manager went there, saw that, or thought that, or, creepier, because you’ve investigated your hiring manager so thoroughly that you know about their love of red licorice and Russian silent films.

        The logic of forms is best not thought about too deeply, but I doubt that even places using such forms hire many people based on what’s in the “high school” field. Unless you’re a recent HS graduate, it doesn’t tell you anything about your current fitness and unfortunately suggests that there isn’t enough recent for you to focus on.

        1. mh_76*

          Even if the house-seller already knows in advance that the house-buyer does in fact love love love purple walls -and- is interested in buying the house? In the example, the applicant would already know in advance that JohnJane HiringManager went to the HS. Of course there’s the risk that the H.M. hated it there…but that’s another friendly debate. The idea with including info. about HS (or hobbies) in common is to try to connect with the H.M. on a level above and beyond the H.M.-candidate level and further differentiate oneself from other candidates, even if just a tiny little bit. Outside of the already know in advance condition/example, though, I do agree that it’s silly to put HS on the resume…and even think that it shouldn’t be on LI.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You’d need to know in advance not just that they went to your high school but also that they loved seeing it on resumes. If I saw a candidate list their high school and it was my own, I’d still think the person was naive for putting it there. It wouldn’t matter that it was my school too — I’d be like, “Why the hell is this listed?”

            1. Jamie*

              I think there is another danger in this, also. If you see a name and it’s immediately linked to your high school it’s human nature to recall them the way they were then.

              If you see a name that may be familiar, but you read the resume and during the interview it’s brought up that you went to school together you’ve already got a current impression of them to kind of override the memories of them being passed out beneath the bleachers, or whatever.

              I am not one of those people who hated high school, but I would never get a job if I had to overcome the lingering impressions many people may have of me from back then.

              I went to a very small private boarding school – even people you barely knew, you knew pretty well…since you lived together 50 weeks of the year. There are people I remember fondly – but like me I’d hope they wouldn’t be the same people they were at 16…so why make it harder to get to the blank slate stage?

              And for those people who didn’t know each other in school, but it’s just a shared alma mater? I don’t know anyone for whom that would hold much weight. It’s like growing up in the same suburb – ‘oh isn’t it a small world…now let’s see whatcha got.’

              1. mh_76*

                Good points both. You would definitely need to do your homework first and weight whether/not it’s worth it to include that info…probably isn’t but who knows, it could be.

          2. fposte*

            I think there’s a difference between adding details that give you dimension and personalize you (“Hobbies: raise guide dogs and compete in triathlons”) and trying to mirror things about the hiring manager, which I think isn’t a great plan for connections. I’m not trying to hire me, I’m already here; I’m also not the only person who has input into the decision, and they sure don’t want another me (some of them are a little dubious about the first one). But they might like you, so be the person you are. I mean, if you put my high school on a resume to me, I’d think “Geez, I’d think people from there would know better than to put their high school on their resume.”

            You never really know what people think of purple walls in *your* house until they’re standing in the living room.

            1. mh_76*

              for sake of discussion, the potential house-buyer might have been in your house and mentioned liking your walls… in all other cases, do re-paint them a nice neutral color (somewhere between “cream” and “white”)

              1. Suz*

                This is off topic but it reminds me of when I purchased my house. The seller had painted everything off-white when they put it on the market. They came over after I moved in to answer some questions about the house. They got a good laugh out of my paint job. I had coincidentally painted most of the rooms back to their colors.

                1. mh_76*


                  My brother used to house-paint professionally (inside and out) so if I need a painter, he’s a childless house-husband (long story) and all I’d have to do here is clean. But my walls are “Linen White” and the trim is…something a bit whiter but not a gross white…oh wait, were I to put this place on the market, I’d need some minor repairs & patching & repainting done…. I think that this proverbial horse is dead and has been beaten enough. That makes me sad…I like horses…real ones, anyway.

                  A question came to mind sometime earlier today: who in their right mind would buy or rent a house/apt/condo that they had never set foot in?!?

  9. Kimberley*

    One of my clients (not a recruiter) likes to see hobbies on a resume because it gives him a starting point to create banter at an interview. I personally do not list any unless relevant to the job that I’m applying for.

    1. Jamie*

      I personally consider interview banter to be cruel and inhuman punishment.

      Isn’t job hunting stressful enough without being subjected to that? FWIW I agree with you.

      1. Emily*

        I totally agree! I get why it’s done, but I’m always taken aback and suspicious as to whether the question is trying to surreptitiously ferret out information about my work habits, or a sincere attempt at friendliness. I’m a very hard and successful worker but I’m very counter-culture so I try not to talk about my personal life lest I be judged as some kind of deviant hippie who would make a poor employee. A month ago I was on an interview for a side gig and the interviewer tried to banter with me, which was by far the hardest part of the interview for me. I ended up getting the job and just this week the guy who interviewed me mentioned off-handedly to someone else that one of his hiring criteria is “whether the candidate is capable of holding a conversation” because, you know, he has to work with the people he hires and the people he hires have to interact with the public, so he doesn’t want them to be terribly awkward and antisocial. So he wasn’t evaluating the content of my banter, just investigating if I was capable of doing it.

        1. Liz T*

          Once an interviewer wanted to know what my pop culture obsession was. When I said it was Buffy, he asked me my favorite episode, and expressed approval of my answer. I doubt that’s WHY I got an offer, but I still wonder if it helped.

        2. MovingRightAlong*

          Yup, when everything you do or say is being scrutinized, attempting to participate in a light, natural conversation is agony! As a counter-culture, not-so-typical-interests type myself, I often fear talking about these things could be off-putting. On the other hand, when you do run into someone who shares your love of the Dead Milkmen and MST3K, it’s like finding a kindred spirit! (This is how I bonded with a former manager, but he was hired after me, so no leg up there.)

  10. Janet*

    I have an online portfolio (I work in PR so it’s made of writing samples, media placements, etc.) and I usually include the link at the bottom of my resume.

    I have just pared my resume down to one page. But at the bottom I do have my physical address, phone number, e-mail and my portfolio web link. The web link has a lot more details about computer programs, references, a few more bullet points under each job, etc.

    I know not everyone can have an online website but LinkedIn could be another option for folks. I know that there you can include high school or alumni groups and hobby groups. If you apply online you can hyperlink your name in the signature to go to your Linkedin page. That way your resume is clean and concise but if they’re interested in learning more about you – they can.

  11. SisterTech81*

    I must respectfully disagree with AAM on the Highschool statement. Following the AAM’s advice I removed it and the first time I went in to interview and they said that they wanted to address the fact that I had not listed any education on my resume, and was then immediately asked if I had graduated high school. At the time I was in my late 20’s. Perhaps for people who went on to college (and it’s therefore automatically assumed they finished highschool) this is not important. But for those of us who have worked our way past entry level on a highschool education alone, it is.

    This was not an entry-level job for which I was applying, either.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d caution you against drawing conclusions based on one person’s statements. That employer sounds bizarre and not representative of others.

    2. AD*

      But…it wasn’t important. They asked you about it, you answered them, and it was a non-issue. They didn’t remove you from consideration because you hadn’t listed it.

        1. SisterTech81*

          The logical conclusion based upon the question was that there were other employers wondering the same thing. And that potentially they had screened me out assuming that I had not graduated high school. Generally a high school diploma is a minimum requirement for jobs that do not require a college level education but may accept some combination of real-world experience and education.

          I accept that this could be industry specific, I know many people in IT who have worked their way past entry level positions on a high school diploma and have added certifications to their resume as well. But why risk being screened out?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Because this was one employer, and you can’t assume they speak for others, particularly when most employers find including high school on a resume to look naive and odd. You don’t want to create rules for yourself based on what one person/employer tells you, especially when it flies in the face of what the majority of others say.

            1. Ahab*

              I think this is a bogus question: having graduated high school but not attended any college, how does one even make it to an interview? I shine shoes in front of a laundromat and wash windshields at stoplights! What’s a resume?

          2. fposte*

            I think you’re taking more of a risk by including it. (Don’t forget that there’s always risk both ways.)

            As your own experience notes, the place that wanted the information was able to get it without needing it on your resume, and as mh notes upstream, places that want it on an application form have a space for it.

            1. fposte*

              Actually, let me expand–I was responding to the “why risk?” more than to your situation. I think when high school functions as your terminal degree and you’re still only a few years out, it’s not likely to be as much of a problem on your resume as if you’re including high school in addition to college degrees or including it decades later.

    3. mh_76*

      Have you done any coursework / education beyond High School? If so, then include that on your res. but if not, you might be right re: including HS your resume/applications.

      1. SisterTech81*

        Yes, I have IT certifications now. At the time, I did not however, so there was basically nothing in the way of education on the resume.

  12. Anon*

    Alison (or anyone),

    Question about short term jobs: I’ve been temping with an agency for a year now, and am on my third assignment (all have been long term). Should I list the individual jobs/companies I’ve worked for under the main agency, or just list the agency and give a general overview of what I’ve done?


      1. mh_76*

        Me too. I’ve recently had to condense most of the contract jobs I’ve had into bullet-points under the heading “Contract Positions, including”…I commented re: that with more details in another AAM post but don’t remember which post… If you want, I can look back and see if I can find that comment… let me know :)

    1. Jamie*

      I temped for almost two years at the beginning of my career and I listed the temp agency as the employer and the long term assignments by company name.

      I saw it as the temp agency was my employer and those were assignments I completed successfully.

  13. Anonymous*

    #1 and #10

    Both were on the template given to those who were going for student teaching placements at my university – thanks to the career center!

  14. mh_76*

    A couple more thoughts:
    1. An objective.
    The only exception that I can think of is if you’re seeking a radical career change from (example) CxO of a Major Company to Political Organizer for [your political party] or something similarly drastic and know exactly what you seek. …but that could also be covered in a Profile or Summary section…

    8. Extra pages.
    In the past few months, 3 recruiters have re-worked (or asked me to re-work) my resume into their company format and all of those versions were 3 pages. The version that I send is 2 pages (except for those updates sent to agencies that requested/did the re-formatting) and my “working draft” is 2-3 pages but that includes multiple versions of a handful of my jobs/bullet-points…those get tweaked even more as needed.

    And now for a laugh
    // OFF-TOPIC but funny

    I saw this come through my LinkedIn feed:
    “Experinced admin needed for a growing collections agency in [City], [State]!The admin will maintain and configure Access and Excel databases, complete reports along with completing miscellaneous projects/tasks and admin duties as assigned. Candidate must be proficient in Access (running reports and quarries) and Excel (running reports and creating charts, graphs, tables, pivot-tables/charts, and manipulating). Knowing how to do v-lookups is a plus. Hours are M-F #-#. To apply, please visit our website!”

    Um…are “quarries” used in data-mining?!?
    (I do know what she means…and what
    queries are…but…really…learn to spell!)

    I’m not nice enough to alert her re: the spelling mistake…because if you can’t spell even the easy skills, why on earth should you be recruiting (or hiring) for jobs that “require” them? Good grief!

    1. Jamie*

      Here’s what’s really scary…when I read the word quarries I immediately thought “is that what you get when you’re data mining” and then when you led off the next paragraph with that it kinda spooked me a little.

      Get out of my head! :)

    2. Greg*

      Pet peeve of mine: Hiring managers and HR professionals routinely mock candidates whose cover letters have obvious typos or get the name of the company wrong (or at least soberly warn them to spell check everything before they send it). Yet I frequently see typos in job descriptions, and even worse, jobs that can’t seem to settle on a title (it’s a director in the headline, but has somehow morphed into a manager by the time you get to the description.)

      Do the people who make these mistakes not realize that candidates are judging them just as harshly as they judge the applicants who screw up?

        1. Alisha*

          I see positions like the one mh posted on LinkedIn Groups, which is why I’ve quit most of mine. Groups were once useful, but have been hijacked by fake accounts, which auto-publish fake jobs (riddled with typos) that link out to forms that collect data from the unemployed, which is really low. My local group had one lady who I swear has 12 aliases, and they’re all pushing people into becoming Farmers’ Insurance sales reps. It was to where engineers and scientists would join the groups, and the Farmers’ Insurance reps would hound them into “setting up an appointment today!!!11!1!” (!)

          1. mh_76*

            I get a lot of those in email and/or voicemail format to the address and Google Voice # (set to “do not disturb”) that I use for That profile will be deleted, that email address phased out (but not “killed” yet), and a new profile/job-search-specific-email created….so that they can start spamming that one too. If anyone’s interested, I’d be happy to share a few examples here… or could send them to AAM for an ego trip – something tells me that she’s not one of the spamming fake recruiters… must be the usually good/credible advice on this site… good grief, is it really midnight here?!?

      1. 22dncr*

        I applied to one for a Law Office and was appalled to find they’d spelled one of the Firm partner’s names wrong when I did my normal google research. I was totally torn about telling them or not.

  15. Anonymous*

    #1: question about the objective: I solely use an objective to list the job title and requisition number for the position. Without an Objective, how else can I incorporate the job title and requisition number? Is it even necessary to do so? I always had the impression it helps keep my resume organized.

  16. Amanda*

    Should I include my summer jobs because i am 21 apping for a job that requires two years office experience and I worked with the same company every summer for 3 months from age 14-18 which involved office experience and the use of tools. Should this just be something mentioned in the interview? I am also currently in college so this job I am apping for will help long term but getting in is where my concern stands.

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