November 7, 2011 | Barb Carr

Career Development Tip: Top Résumé Mistakes to Avoid (Mistake #2)

Last week, we talked about Résumé Mistake #1:  Starting a résumé with an objective statement.

Today we are going to talk about Mistake #2:   TMI, (“Too Much Information”). I’m referring to revealing information on your résumé that pertains to what you do when you are not at work and who you do it with.

Hobbies

Some people think that listing a hobby makes them look more interesting.  Others believe that listing hobbies may strike a chord with the person doing the hiring and give them an edge. However, employers know that in your free time, you do other things besides work whether you list it or not, and it is unlikely that an employer is going to hire you based on your cool hobbies if you are not qualified. Hobbies are something that take up valuable real estate on your résumé as well as time during the interview that could be used to show why you really are qualified.

The only exception I can think of is if your hobby shows that you have a desirable character trait or skill needed for the job.  For example, if you are a marathon runner, that may indicate perseverance.   If you are a published writer, it may indicate a valued skill that may be transferable to the position.

There may very well be an opportunity to bring up a hobby during an interview without listing it on your resume – if you see a golf trophy in the employer’s office you could mention that you enjoy golf while you are walking with him from his office back to HR, but don’t make it the focus.  Focus on how well you can do the job.

Information about Your Family

It is not necessary to disclose your marital status, children or household members on a resume.  If you do, a hiring manager may start making assumptions (like, “someone single with small children may be unavailable to commit to odd hours,” “someone who is caring for an elderly parent may be burned out,” “someone who is engaged may not want to travel when planning a wedding”).  Human beings have all kinds of opinions, no matter how well they’ve been trained by HR.  You should be the one figuring out how to manage your personal life successfully – don’t let your potential employer make an assumption about it that may keep you from getting the interview.

Be warned, an employer can find out volumes about your family situation if they stumble upon your Facebook.  It is always a good idea to keep privacy controls on your social media accounts when you are seeking a new position so that you control the information released to those outside of your family and friends circle.

Other information you should keep off your resume include your age, religion, political identity and, so long as your doctor has cleared you to work, your health status.

The key thing to remember is to use the space on your resume for information that qualifies you for the job.  You are not writing a resume to make friends, you are writing it to get an interview.

Next week we’ll talk about Resume Mistake #3 of 5:  Proofreading your own resume.

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