What to Leave Off Your Resume
By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Canadian resumes tend to be jam-packed with information about the job seeker. They highlight a candidate’s work experience and describe their key accomplishments—concisely, in two or so detailed pages.
This relatively brief document restricts the amount of information an applicant can provide, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It definitely forces you to exclude trivial information.
Yet there is a whole other category of data that you should leave off your resume as well: facts about yourself that could expose you to potential discrimination. See what not to include, and why, below.
Bias and Prejudice: Omit Info That Could Lead To Either
Fortunately Canada is a multicultural country that is accepting of differences. Still, some employers occasionally let themselves inject their own stereotypes or bigotry into a hiring decision.
They may make blanket judgments about an individual based on that person’s physical appearance, ethnic origins, marital status, personal beliefs, or interests and hobbies outside of work.
Thus it is necessary to protect your neutrality (and privacy) on job applications. You don’t want to be dismissed from being considered for a job based solely on criteria that have little, or nothing, to do with the role itself.
If you happen to be an actor or actress, fashion model, or television personality, then your looks may matter to employers. Otherwise your physical attributes have no place on your resume. These include:
- Measurements: height, weight
- Physical features: skin colour, attractiveness
- Health: your general health condition, visible or invisible disabilities (unless you require special accommodation and feel comfortable revealing your issues to a prospective employer)
- Pregnancy status
It is customary not to have a photo of yourself on your resume unless the role you are applying for demands it. Even if you think you are super attractive or otherwise have “the right look,” an employer may wonder why your picture is there unnecessarily.
Where you come from is not something an employer needs to know. Consequently, leave out the following from your resume:
- Ethnicity: race, nationality, culture
- Citizenship status (unless asked): country of origin, current citizenship, where you have lived previously, how long you’ve been in Canada
- Languages: other than English or French, don’t list your languages unless you feel this will help you get a job
On the other hand, sometimes it can be a good thing to show your international background. This might be true if you plan to work for an employer that does business in other countries, or targets people in Canada who have similar languages, homelands or ethnicity as you.
Marital Status and Sexuality
Whether you are married, single, divorced, widowed, or living common-law with a romantic partner, no employer can discriminate against you on this basis. Eliminate the following on your resume:
- Marital status: anything that would show if you are married, plan to be, or used to be
- Children: whether you currently have children, or plan to have them at some point
- Sexual Orientation: if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered
Do you plan on working for a religious order? Or a particular political party? If so, your religious beliefs and political affiliations may be of relevance to your future employer. Not so for other types of jobs.
Do include your contact details on your resume: phone number, city or town in which you live, and an e-mail and phone number where employers can get in touch with you quickly if they are interested in you. But do not add...
- Your own online presence: e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, or other profiles (unless they portray you in a professional light and compliment what is already on your resume)
- Private Information: credit score, Social Insurance Number
If you left your previous job on bad terms, or strongly disliked your boss there, you should omit this from your resume. It sets a negative tone. Other problem areas to exclude:
- Troubles at your old job: performance issues, personality clashes, being fired for cause
- Criminal record: no need to mention it—unless you are in an occupation such as teacher, certain health care workers, bonded couriers etc. and have not received a Criminal Pardon
- Gaps: lengthy holes in your work history should be described, so as not to make it look like you’re hiding something (for instance, if you took a year off to travel or take care of a family member)
Keep It Factual
As a job seeker, your suitability for positions that you apply to should be measured objectively. Your resume needs to reflect this. Adding subjective details like your religious beliefs, age, country of origin and the like, opens doors for an employer to reject your application solely on their own personal prejudices.
The moment you walk through an employer’s doors for a job interview you instantly reveal much about you: appearance, accent, visible disabilities...they are there for everyone to see.
By then, however, you can demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm in person. But if you want to get even that far in the process, make sure to keep your job application neutral. Leave the subjective elements to when you show up for the interview itself.