If you’ve ever sent out your resume through an online application – you’ll probably find yourself wondering, at some point, if you’ll ever hear back from that potential employer. Did your resume stand out? Did it contain everything it should? Did you include something you shouldn’t have?

While every employer is looking for something different – most hiring authorities would agree that there are certainly things to avoid on resumes – and other things they love to see. While we can’t guarantee you’ll get a call-back – we’d love to help improve your odds with a few tips!

Last week we discussed some of our suggested resume must-haves. Today, we take a look at some key things to avoid on your resume:


1. Don’t make it longer than 2 pages. Remember you need only include a concise description of your positions and major achievements/successes for those positions in the last 10 years. Your resume should simply whet the appetite of future employers. Leave something to discuss during your interview!

2. Don’t use your LinkedIn profile as your resume. While your LinkedIn Profile can certainly be a great point of reference – and should include much of what you include in your resume – it is not a substitute for your resume. Resumes should be customized for the positions/companies to which you apply.

3. Don’t be vague with dates. Potential employers want to know the duration of time you spent at a company. 2009 to 2010 isn’t clear. Was that 2 years or 2 months? NOTE: If you are a freelancer who has returned to a client many times during a multi-year period, more general annual dates are acceptable.

4. Don’t include salary history. Salary is just one of the elements in negotiating an offer. But it’s a powerful one. Don’t show your hand before you’ve even interviewed. Wait until it’s requested – if it’s ever requested.

5. Don’t list your references; employers or recruiters will ask for them. No need to tell us “Reference Provided Upon Request” either. This is given. You should have updated contact details ready to provide potential employers at any time during an active job search.  Make sure references are aware they might be contacted about your professional relationship.

6. Don’t talk about yourself in third person. This practice is not usually received well by most hiring managers. No matter your intention, this normally comes off as awkward, unfriendly, and disconnected – none of which are good if you’re being considered for a position with a new company that doesn’t yet know you. Save the third person for your bio on the company website after you get the job!

7. Do not include a picture of yourself or busy design elements on your resume. They are simply distracting from what’s important – your experience and accomplishments. If you simply MUST have a prospective employer know what you look like – include a link to your LinkedIn Profile and make sure your picture is professional. Chances are – they will be checking you out there anyway. On the flip side – especially for Designers – feel free to include design elements as part of your resume – just make sure they are clean, simple, tasteful, and emphasize your written content, not detract form it.

Jess Bedford, for Artisan Creative