Resumes & Cover Letters

Take these things off your resume ASAP

Written by Eric Titner

We’re not telling you anything you don’t know when we say that today’s job market is intense—across industries and professions, every job opening is met with a rush of talented and qualified applicants from around the country, all vying for the same spot. With hundreds (if not more) people applying for open positions, you better be sure that every aspect of your job-hunting game is razor sharp—including your resume.

If you’re sending out resumes with any of the following things on them, stop what you’re doing and make some changes—fast.

Salary requirements or history

Unless you’re responding to a job ad that specifically asks for your salary history and requirements (and if it does, include it in your cover letter, not your resume), save the salary talk for the negotiation once a job offer has been made. Your first impression and your resume should be all about what you can offer a prospective employer, not what you require from them.

Personal social media links

Yes, you’re a person and it’s okay for prospective employers to be aware of this, but save your limited resume real estate for professional accomplishments and experience. In fact, it’s much more likely that there are things on your social media pages that could dissuade potential employers from hiring you than convince them that you’re the perfect person for the job.

“Creative” fonts and images

Sure, it makes sense that you want to stand out from the job-hunting crowd and make a lasting impression on prospective employers, but using a wacky, magenta-colored font or embedding photos of you and your dog won’t bring you the kind of attention you’re looking for. Hiring managers are busy people with limited time, and won’t sift through a maze of creative flourishes to get to the heart of your resume and figure out if you have what it takes to handle the job. Help them by making your resume as professional and easy-to-follow as possible.

A boilerplate objective statement

A generic, boilerplate objective statement is typically a waste of space on your resume, as it likely just repeats the messaging you have in your cover letter, and often is full of tired clichés (more on that later). Besides, hiring personnel know that your primary objective is to get this particular job, or you wouldn’t be applying for it.

Outdated skills

Are you proud of your WordPerfect wizardry or your ability to operate a fax machine? That’s great, but keep it to yourself—shining a light on your mastery of outdated office technology will not only fail to impress potential employers, it will make you seem out of date. Also, don’t bother talking about your skills with obvious office tools like Microsoft Word, telephones, or email. In today’s job market, your ability to navigate basic office technology is a given, not a bonus.

Resume clichés

Are you a “team player,” your office’s “go-to person,” or a “passionate self-starter”? While these may all be true, these tired and worn phrases come off as weak and meaningless on resumes—they’re simply overused, generic clichés that have long since lost their ability to impress hiring personnel and make you stand out from the crowd. Save your bullet points for targeted, measurable, results-driven facts that drive home your perceived value as a prospective employee.


This one seems obvious, right? Well, you’d be surprised by how many people think that too, and then send out resumes with glaring typos on them. A nationwide survey released by CareerBuilder found that 58% of resumes received by those polled had typos. Sloppiness is not a good way to introduce yourself to prospective employers!

After crafting your resume until it’s just right, be sure to check it carefully for errors—and then check it again. Better still, have someone you trust review it as well. Only when you’re absolutely, positively sure that your resume is free from typos and mistakes should you even think about sending it out.

Along with your cover letter, your resume is going to serve as your first impression, so there’s simply no room for error. Make sure that the things mentioned here are as far from your resume as possible, and you’ll be sure to make a better impression on hiring managers and prospective employers.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.