I guess you could call me a professional resume reader, since I review hundreds of resumes every month.
Lately, I've seen a number of resumes that included information that would have been better left off.
Here are five things your resume is better off without:
1. Pictures and graphics
A photo can be helpful in a job search, because it can communicate a lot in an instant, but research shows it can also work against you, depending on your sex and how good-looking you are.
A recent study done in Israel, where photos are acceptable on resumes, showed that when a picture is included the resume, attractive men were 50% more likely to get the interview than plain men or men with no photo, while attractive women were 30% less likely to get the interview than plain women or women with no photo.
Even if you think it could help, photos on a resume are simply not standard in the U.S. Instead, put a professional and friendly photo on your LinkedIn profile, where a photo is expected.
Fancy graphics are also out of place in a resume.
I recently saw a resume with a photo of a forest as the background of the page. Not only did it make the document impossible to read and likely to be unrecognizable to a computerized Applicant Tracking System, but the photo had absolutely no relation to the job at hand. I filed that one into my "worst resumes ever" file.
2. Jobs from your distant past
I've had candidates point me to a job they did 25 years ago as their qualification for a similar job today. Unfortunately, those 25 years brought us a digital revolution with the internet, personal computers and cell phones, and jobs today are just not like they were then.
The hiring world cares about what you can do right this minute. Experience from more than 20 years back has lost its relevance to today's workplace, so unless you have a good reason otherwise, play those earlier years down leave them off your resume entirely.
It's a new world and old experience isn't your best selling point. Sell what you bring to the table right now.
Are there exceptions to this? Sure, if you were Miss America 1985 or founded a company that is now a household name, you may opt to include these to help tell the way-back story of your life and pique the reader's interest.
But only recent jobs are going to help you show you have the current know-how for the job at hand.
More about the changing workplace:
10 Great Jobs that Didn't Exist Ten Years Ago
3. Salary history
Your resume is a marketing document, and unless your salary is a feature or benefit to a potential employer (and I can't think of an instance where it might be), it has no place on your resume.
If you are asked to provide compensation information, then you can give an idea of your salary level in your cover note so they know you're not evading their question entirely. But it's never appropriate to list salaries on your resume.
4. Irrelevant personal details
I'm a believer that there are times that including some personal information can make you more real and appealing to the reader, but the details need to have some bearing on the job at hand.
For instance, if you're applying for a job with a food company, it could be a good thing to include that you won the bake-off contest at the county fair three years running, but if you're looking for a position as a software engineer, it makes no sense to include it.
More about resume mistakes:
11 Executive Resume Blunders
Your references are one of your most valuable tools in your job search. Treat them with great respect, and keep their contact information confidential.
References never belong in a resume. Instead, create a separate document that lists email and phone contact information, and only give this list on request.
If you want potential hiring managers to know that you have high-level references, link them to your LinkedIn profile, or make a note in your cover letter with the name or position of the person you'll be giving as a reference.
More about references:
Great References are No Accident
As I said, every resume should be different, and I admit there are some cases where some of these five don'ts might be appropriately used, but you'll be safest if you just leave these five things off of your resume.