7 Things That Have No Business Being On Your Resume — and How to Replace Them

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Fairygodboss Contributor
Fairygodboss Contributor
June 23, 2024 at 10:35AM UTC

Once you’ve been in the workforce for a while, it can be easy to neglect your resume. After all, you’ve been working, accumulating experience and juggling your job and life. If you’re not actively looking for work or got your last position through networking or someone you knew, it is easy for years to pass before you’ve looked at your resume.

There’s plenty of advice out there about how to improve your resume but before you start word-smithing and adding bullet points, consider a good spring cleaning. The first step to updating a resume that’s been stale is probably to simply get rid of a lot of irrelevant and outdated material.

Here’s where to start pruning your resume:

1. Your GPA in school

If you were Valedictorian of your university, you can make a note of that. You may even want to include the fact that you graduated Phi Beta Kappa. But a GPA from 2005 simply doesn’t matter now that it’s after 2015. Including this information can also make it appear that you have poor judgment about what is relevant and the results you have achieved since then.

2. Classes you’ve taken

Similarly, unless you’re applying to a job where coursework has helped you achieve some sort of practical career transition (e.g. taking software development courses when you are seeking a new role as a programmer), your future employer probably isn’t particularly interested in an experienced hire’s extracurricular enrichment classes.

3. Languages you speak (even fluently)

Languages are a great skill in life, but unless you’re applying to work in a position where a foreign language is helpful or required, putting languages on your resume can make you look like you’re unfocused on the job at hand. Save some more space to describe your recent career accomplishments instead.

If you do believe your language skills are important for the role, be sure to include them but leave out any languages where you don’t have business-level proficiency.

4. Summer internships

If you’ve been in the workforce for several years, summer internships falls into the category of completely irrelevant. It may be tempting to cut out prestigious internships that you were proud of (or that you believe make you look interesting) but the truth of the matter is that putting a summer internship on your resume at this stage of your career may make you look like you exercise poor judgment about what is important…and what is ancient history.

5. References

If someone is interested in your references, they will ask. You also don’t need to write “References upon request” since that is also something a recruiter or hiring manager will assume. After all, when’s the last time someone applied for a job they wanted and refused to provide references?

6. The number of years of experience you have

The amount of experience you have only matters with respect to the position you’re currently applying for. Too often, people believe that the higher the number of years of experience, the better. If you were employed over a decade ago as a researcher but have not worked in that field for the past 15 years, there’s no need to count all your working years as “years of experience” in an executive summary. It’s simply not necessary.

7. Your graduation dates (depending on your age).

Sadly, age discrimination is alive and well. Though you never want to assume the worst of people, your graduation date is not necessary unless you graduated recently. Your work experience and credentials should speak for themselves and anyone who is worried about being passed over because of their age should simply eliminate the years on your resume that are attached to your college and/or graduate degrees.

Making sure you trim the fat when you update your resume can be important as deciding what to put in. It’s important to tailor your resume to individual jobs that you’re applying for, and it’s a lot easier to do that succinctly after you’ve taken out things that are irrelevant and/or outdated.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for someone updating their resume? Leave your answer in the comments to help other FGB'ers!

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