So, you’ve decided to pack your bags and move to the land of opportunity, the USA (or at least pursue work there). Well, before you find a job in this magical land where the stores are always open on Sunday and the restaurants don’t close in the middle of the day, you’ll need to leave your CV (curriculum vitae) at home and opt for a résumé instead.
A résumé is a one to two page summary of your work and educational history and good news for you; it’s substantially shorter than a CV. Your résumé should contain only pertinent information relating to the job to which you’re applying. Here are a few quick tips on what to leave out of your résumé to ensure the best chance of landing that dream job:
1. Your Photograph
Many companies outside of the United States may require a photo, but it’s best not to make this mistake when coming to America. In almost every situation, a photograph included with a résumé is a fatal mistake and your résumé will most likely be thrown out.
Why? In the United States we have Civil Rights laws that prevent employers from discriminating based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability or age. Employers have to be very careful not to draw accusations of illegal discrimination. If you include a photo of yourself with your résumé, the employer now knows approximately how old you are, has an idea of your ethnic background, and can see if you’re attractive or overweight.
To avoid the perception that they either rejected or hired you based on these attributes, many employers will simply throw away a résumé with a photo attached.
2. Your Age
Age is a category employers have to very careful about, because age discrimination can open them up to lawsuits. In Europe, having your date of birth or age is commonplace, but it’s a big mistake to include it in your résumé. So, although it may be strange to many of you who are accustomed to the CV, leave it out.
If you happen to be an older worker, it’s not necessary to include the exact dates of your education. Let’s say you graduated in the 1970’s: it’s sufficient to state you have a degree in Economics. Some employers may view your educational history as outdated, so it’s best to leave it out. “But won’t they see how old I am at the interview?” Sure, but by that time you’ll have a chance to impress them with your charm, wit and relevant work experience.
3. Marital Status / Number of Children
In the good ole’ US of A we have these laws that prohibit prospective employers from asking certain questions that are not related to the job they are hiring for. Questions should be job-related and not used to find out personal information. That brings us to our next thing that should be left off of your résumé: marital status and kids.
Most companies won’t view your ability to manage a chaotic house full of screaming kids as an asset. When an employer sees a candidate with children, they see a person who’s going to be taking a lot of sick days, who’s going to ask to leave early to pick up little Marco from soccer practice and who’s going to cost them time and money. It’s best to avoid this pitfall altogether.
4. Your Hobbies
It’s fantastic that you’ve such built an amazing comic book collection, but unless you’re applying to Marvel, the employer doesn’t particularly care. More importantly, listing hobbies also takes up too much precious real estate on your résumé. You should focus on using the whole page to show exactly why you’re the right candidate for the job. In the incredibly rare circumstance that your hobby somehow relates to the job you’ll be performing, then mention it in the interview.
5. Jobs you had more than 10 years ago
The first reason for omitting these positions is that they might give away your age, which we already agreed was a bad idea. Second, jobs that you held 10 years ago will most likely be viewed as irrelevant or outdated. Lastly, it’s going to look like you’re adding fluff to your résumé because you have no recent relevant work experience (and we know that’s not true!). The only exception to this rule will be if you held an extremely important or interesting job, i.e. Astronaut.
Best of luck on your future endeavors!