Are You Letting “Too Much Information” Ruin Your Resume? Print E-mail
by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC
 
True or false? Including everything on your resume an employer will need to know about you will help facilitate the hiring process.
 
While it may sound like a helpful hint, the correct answer is false. In fact, including certain details on your resume can seriously damage your job search. From decreasing your chances of landing an interview to influencing potential salary, “too much information” on a resume can be detrimental for any candidate.
 
If your resume contains any of the following, you are putting yourself at a major disadvantage right from the beginning: 
 
References
 
Your professional references should be always be listed in a separate document and provided when requested – and that usually doesn’t happen before the interview. Since the primary function of a resume is to land the interview, sending your references as part of your resume is premature.
 
Some jobseekers think this is a good way to take advantage of networking opportunities by dropping the name of a reference or two to impress a prospective employer. Your resume is still not the right place to accomplish this. To emphasize your relationship with a professional contact, simply mention it in the cover letter. (Be sure to do so subtly, however. For example, “My former colleague from XYZ Company, Jack Smith, suggested I contact you directly because he felt my skills would be a perfect fit for your organization.”)
 
 
Salary History & Requirements
 
The dinner table isn’t the only place where talking about money is considered rude. A resume should not indicate compensation requirements or salary history. Aside from etiquette, doing so could literally cost you.
 
If you disclose your bottom line and it’s less than what an employer was willing -- or even expecting -- to pay you, you’ve just inadvertently volunteered for a pay cut. 
 
Unless a salary requirement is mandatory to apply for a position, do not surrender this important information, or you will risk compromising any leverage you may have in future salary negotiations. When a concrete figure is required to be considered for an opening, this information should be incorporated in your cover letter, not your resume.
 
If salary history is requested, it typically comes later in the process and should be prepared in a separate document. 
 
Hobbies
 
Whether you spend your weekends as a Cub Scout Leader or enjoy skydiving in your spare time, extracurricular activities  are almost always irrelevant to one’s career, and therefore, do not belong on a resume. Since your resume is a professional piece of communication, reserve the limited space to present only information related to your professional qualifications, and keep leisure activities separate.
 
There are exceptions, particularly for professionals who engage in outside activities directly related to their jobs. An accountant who serves as treasurer for a local charity, an aspiring gym teacher who volunteers as a soccer coach, and a construction worker who donates his time and skills building houses for the poor and are good examples. When in doubt, if an activity or affiliation doesn’t support your career objective, leave it out. Most employers are only interested in their employees’ afterhours activities when they need staff to work overtime. 
 
Educational Details
 
For mid- and senior-level professionals, detailed information related to your college years is not necessary. Unless you are a recent college graduate with little career history to offer, keep the emphasis on your professional achievements and the tone at a higher level. Your grade point average and past extracurricular affiliations are far less important than your recent work highlights.
 
Also be sure to omit your year of graduation unless you finished school in the past 5 years. Though age discrimination is certainly prohibited by law, volunteering your age can never help you.
 
Reasons for Leaving
 
Whether your former boss threw you a going away party or had security escort you from the premises, your reasons for leaving any job should be reserved for a job application. They simply don’t belong on your resume regardless of the circumstances. If you wish to have an opportunity to explain a sticky situation like being fired, wait until at least the first interview so you’ve had a chance to make an unbiased first impression.
 
 
Overall Content
 
The most important issue to consider regarding the quantity of information is overall content. Employers do indeed want to know about important work you’ve done throughout your career – but they do not need or even want to know every detail. Summarize your best assets rather than inundating the reader with minutiae. You have literally under a minute to make an impression on a prospective employer, so you must be very careful choosing what content to emphasize.
 
Nothing will help land your resume in a “no” pile faster than making it too long, too cluttered, and too cumbersome to read.