Up Close and Too Personal – What to Leave OFF Your Resume

A resume serves as a reflection of who you are:  it contains your education, your illustrious work experience, various ways to contact you…  But then, a resume should never really reflect who you are.  We’re talking about the personal details – the little things that make you the fabulous person you are today, but that should really have no bearing on landing a job.

So whether you’re just starting to apply to jobs for the first time, or are a seasoned job search veteran, here’s a refresher course on things that you should never include on your resume:


If you’re not applying to a job at a religious institution, keep your views off the page.  It’s irrelevant to the job, and hiring managers are not allowed to take it under consideration anyway, so there’s really no place for it.  If you volunteer at a religious organization and you consider this experience especially relevant to the job you’re applying to, you can mention it briefly.  However, if you must include it, keep the organization anonymous and focus on your role instead.  For example:

Volunteer Instructor – once a week, taught a classroom of thirty children, ages 10-12.

Also, keep in mind that anything you mention in the resume is likely to come up during the interview, so include this information at your own risk.


Again, if you’re not going into politics, leave it off.  These sorts of matters are controversial in the first place, are irrelevant, and if anything, just take up valuable space.  Like with religion, if you consider your political experience extra valuable and relevant to a particular job – and just can’t bear to take it off the resume – avoid mentioning the organization name, and be prepared to discuss further during an interview.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual preference may be a key component to who you are, but it has nothing to do with how well you can perform on the job.  More than this, even though discrimination in the workplace is illegal, it still exists in some places, so don’t take your chances.


Though you may be the perfect fit for the position, ageism in the workplace certainly exists, and you may be eliminated from the pool prematurely if you are perceived as being too old or too young.  If age is an issue, be cautious with including specific dates on your resume as well (most hiring managers can do the math).  So if your 30-year college reunion is around the corner, you might want to keep that graduation date to yourself and also leave off some of your early, less relevant experience.

Health and Disabilities

The law protects persons with health issues or disabilities, but again, you should leave this information off of your resume.  It’s irrelevant and opportunity for discrimination exists.

Criminal Record

The general rule with a criminal record is to be upfront and honest with a hiring manager, but the resume is not the place for this.  Wait until the interview to bring this up.

While you want to give the hiring manager a good idea of who you are, there’s definitely a point where you can become too personal in what you decide to disclose.  Always aim to flaunt how great you are on your resume – just be a bit discerning while you do it.


Graduate School vs. Full-Time Career

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Many individuals who are finishing up their undergraduate degrees are faced with the dilemma of choosing between pursuing higher education or jumping into the real world and landing a full-time job.  There are certainly pros and cons to each path, but ultimately it comes down to the individual.  If you are facing this conundrum, here are some things you may want to consider:

Graduate School


Many people in favor of going to graduate school straight out of college argue that this creates a much smoother transition.  You are still in “school mode”, having spent the last 17 or so years of your life in the classroom, and you don’t have as many commitments in the real world that are holding you back.  Because you are fresh out of college, you don’t have a job that will be difficult to leave, and you likely don’t have a family of your own to think about when potentially moving across the country.  In short, you still have the flexibility that makes focusing on graduate school much easier.

People in favor of graduate school after college also argue that in this sort of economy, delaying the job search may be a good idea.  You don’t have to enter the fray quite yet, and in addition to waiting out an iffy job market, you are adding more credibility to your name by earning additional degrees and accolades.


The downside of entering graduate school is that if the institution you are attending does not sponsor your degree, you are getting yourself into further debt without the guarantee of a job immediately after graduation.  You may also lack the real world experience to determine what exactly you want to pursue, and whether or not your choice of study will be useful in the real world.

Full-Time Career


One of the biggest pros for waiting a few years before going back to school is that the real world experience you bring with you enriches your academic experience.  You have a better perspective on the practical use of your degree and know more thoroughly what you want to get out of it.  Waiting a few years before returning to your studies may also ensure that you end up pursuing an area that you’re actually interested in, instead of jumping into something right away just for the sake of staying in school.

Another plus to having some real world experience under your belt is that, upon graduation, you are more likely to land a great job. Companies often prefer real world experience in addition to a degree, as opposed to someone who has the same degree but no idea of what it’s like to be in a real working environment.  Also, there is the added benefit of already having the proper connections from your previous job to help get you back on your feet and working again, which you wouldn’t have had if you went straight into grad school.


The downside to putting off graduate school is that it may be difficult to get back into it.  You may find that you love your job and it’s difficult to leave.  You may have a family, in which case it could be hard to relocate to a place that otherwise would have been an ideal fit for you.  Or you may feel too distanced from academia itself to feel entirely comfortable heading back.

There are certainly drawbacks to each side of the debate, but people pursue both paths successfully all the time.  What it really comes down to is weighing all the pros and cons and deciding what is right for YOU.

All the best,

The Doostang Team

Leverage Education to Land a New Job

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Getting additional training is a critical part of job preparation throughout your career. Packaging that information effectively in the resume is not always as clear-cut. Based on how much time and money you have invested, training experiences may be more important to you personally than they are critical to landing a job. You may need some assistance in objectively placing the training where it belongs on your resume. Consider these tips to effectively present education and training experiences in your resume.

Placement: Where do I put my education?

The current format for most resumes does not lead with education.  In fact, it is not wise for someone with a solid career — and who recently obtained a degree – to lead with his/her education. Doing so may give the mistaken impression that your education is your strongest asset, implying that your experience may not be as impressive, is sketchy, or falls short in some fashion.

Emphasis:  How much should I include about my education?

Similar questions about your work history may be raised in the reader’s mind when extensive training experiences are included.  In fact a lengthy list of training may obscure your talents, again giving the reader the impression that your training overshadows your work experience or is even meant to obfuscate actual details of your career. In other words, the question may form in the reader’s mind – what is she / he trying to cover up?

Education Dates:  Should I include graduation or training dates?

Unless you are a recent graduate, it is not necessary to include specific dates of graduation.  In fact, including dates on early degrees may actually make you vulnerable to ageism. Including dates of education and training also clutters the resume and takes up valuable space that could be used for outlining other strengths.

No Degree: How do I handle the lack of a degree?

Including extensive training experiences can also be an attempt to over-compensate for the lack of a completed degree. Of course, a degree is an important credential, but if you don’t have one or didn’t complete all the requirements, don’t attempt to hide that fact.  It will only “come back to bite you”.  An option for managing the lack of a degree is provided below.


Business Coursework (non-degree)

ABC University, Anywhere, USA

Annual Training: How do I decide what to include?

To manage extensive training or even annual certifications that you want to include, but don’t want to take up all the valuable real estate on the resume, group similar trainings together or indicate successive years for annual licensure or certifications, such as with first aid or safety training.

Professional Development / Certifications

First Aid Training (Annual Certifications 2005-2010)

Management by Proxy / Supervising Remotely

Future Education Plans:  How do I handle my intent to apply?

You may also be tempted to include additional training or education that is part of your future plan, but for which you have not been accepted.  Don’t succumb to the temptation.  Only include educational experiences you have actually completed or that are in process.  If you just began the program and feel self-conscious about stating that you won’t graduate for another 3 years simply include “in process” or the date of matriculation into the program.


Bachelor of Arts in Business Management (in process)

ABC University, Anywhere, USA

Bachelor of Arts in Business Management (matriculated into program 2010)

ABC University, Anywhere, USA

Time Off for Education: How do I handle work gaps for education?

You can also add an educational note in the midst of your work history to explain any gaps for school-related activities.  Place the note chronologically as if it were a position, exactly when it occurred.  This serves to explain the offending gap in your employment, answering the question in the reader’s mind before they have a chance to ask it, and highlights your commitment to continued professional development. That blend of education and experience is typically the strongest presentation for any job candidate.

Tailor your resume by including your most important attributes and experiences early in the resume.  Remember, placement of education later in the resume doesn’t diminish its importance.  The education then becomes the foundation, consistent with its place in your career progression.  Because of your personal and financial investment in the process, you may be over-valuing the importance of educational and training activities because they are important to you personally.  Try to be objective or ask a trusted colleague or professional service for feedback if you feel too invested in putting your education first on your resume!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Putting Your Education to Work on Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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You’ve spent lots of money on tuition and endless hours studying to earn those degrees. Now it’s time to put that time and money to work for you to land a lucrative new job. Finding the best way to showcase this information on your resume, ensuring you make the most of your credentials isn’t so easy.

Even the most brilliant and educated candidate can readily get confused by the conflicting information offered by career experts. Rather than banking on educated guesses, use this quick “study guide” to test whether you’re maximizing your education background on your resume:

Where to Place the Education Section on Your Resume

Before even trying to assemble this information on your resume, a key step is to determine what type of candidate you are.

If you are a job seeker remaining in the same field and have at least five years of experience, emphasize work experience. This means detailing your work history first, followed by your education information.  Employers greatly value contributions you’ve made to current and/or former employers, since they are the best indication of your potential in a workplace environment. Your studies, while important and often mandatory for consideration, are typically secondary to experience.

Entry-level candidates who recently finished college usually have little work experience. Employers are fully aware of this, so while they are interested in any related internships or experience, their primary interest lies in the candidate’s education. The best option for entry-level candidates, therefore, is listing the education section first.

Another type of candidate who would list education before work history would be a career changer who recently completed a degree or course relevant to the new professional path. For example, if a retail manager just completed an MBA in accounting, passed the CPA exam, and is now seeking an accounting position, the education section would be placed before work experience on the resume.

Listing Coursework

Entry-level candidates could expand upon some practical experience acquired in the course of their studies. Yet for more experienced job seekers, such details are not only unnecessary, but inadvisable. A more experienced job seeker offering specifics about coursework could inadvertently lend a lower-level feel to the overall resume presentation. There are exceptions, however. For instance, candidates seeking academic positions would list relevant coursework and publications.

Stating Year of Graduation

Only recent college graduates need to list the year of graduation since the candidate will want to account for lack of work history. It will make sense to an employer that the resume doesn’t go beyond 2008 if the candidate received a degree the same year.

Otherwise, it is not a good idea to include a year of graduation, as this will give employers a sneak peek of your age. Let your credentials speak for themselves and avoid any potential for age discrimination by omitting the year you completed a degree.

Using Designations

Some candidates include a representation of degrees and certifications earned following their names. This can be a great tool to convey a credential without taking up much room. Since one’s name appears first, at the top of a resume, it immediately highlights your professional qualifications, especially for industry-specific credentials.

However, there are some pitfalls you want to avoid. If too many designations follow a name, the overall impact is lost. It’s great if you have five professional certifications, but you don’t need to list all of them. Try to limit it to three for maximum impact.

Listing a very common degree could also turn off a reader. “John Doe, BA” really won’t impress the same way “John Doe, PhD” will.

Maximizing a Professional Summary

If there are facts you want to emphasize but you don’t want to risk an employer missing it in the education section, feel free to make a mention of it in the professional summary. As an example, you may need an MBA in order to apply for a particular position, so you want to make sure the employer sees right off the bat that you have one. If your extensive work history has pushed your education section to the bottom of page two, the perfect solution is to briefly mention your MBA in your professional summary.

The professional summary is also a great way to include a fact that really has no place in the education section. For example, if you went to an Ivy League school, you can easily incorporate that into your professional summary without sounding pretentious.

Of course, these are general guidelines. The best strategy to present your educational credentials is as individual as you are, so make sure you do your homework when it comes to preparing your resume.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Hot Career Tips for the Unemployed

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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If you are presently unemployed, your days are likely spent scouring job postings, emailing prospective employers and submitting your resume to online websites. Even the most dedicated jobseekers, however, probably have too much idle time on their hands. With no set hours or routine, it could be very tempting to get lazy.

Before you resort to sleeping into early afternoon or reaching for the remote control, there are several ways to make productive use of this time.

Here are just a few suggestions as to how you can maximize downtime that will not only keep you active, but will make you a more attractive job candidate:

Perform charity work where you can utilize your professional skills.

There are dozens of ways you can contribute work-related talents for the betterment of your community. Signing up for a volunteer post within an established organization is only one option. If you get creative, you can carve out your own niche.

For example, if you are a marketing professional, find out if your favorite charity needs help launching their latest awareness campaign. A teacher can look into helping a local literacy organization. A sales professional can help an organization find donors and raise money. A technology professional can assist with a nearby school’s computer upgrade.

Such activities not only enhance self-worth by aiding a worthwhile cause, but they also enrich your qualifications and demonstrate to an employer that you are keeping your skills sharp while unemployed. You’ll likely make valuable contacts as well. You never know who you will meet! It could just be the person volunteering next to you is looking for someone with your qualifications or knows of a position opening up in the office next door.

Accept a temporary or consulting gig.

With unemployment at the highest it has been in more than two decades, it could take a little longer to land that dream job. Broadening the scope of positions you are willing to consider may mean you have to make some compromises. If you are adamant about accepting only a full-time job, you could be inadvertently doing yourself a disservice.

If you impress an employer during the course of a temporary assignment, it could lead to bigger and better things. After all, what better way is there to convince a boss what you are capable of than actually showing them? The best case scenario is that you are offered a full-time position and your search is complete.

The flip side isn’t so bad, either. Even if it comes to an end, a temporary position will help you earn some money, make some contacts, and provide an additional credential to include on your resume. That will help fill in the dreaded employment gap while showing employers your skills are not getting rusty.

Take a course related to your field.

Whether it’s a college course for credits or a one-day seminar, enhancing your education sends an excellent message to anyone in position to hire you. It exhibits your desire to keep your skills current and shows you are using your time wisely.

To make the most of this benefit, be sure to enroll in something related to your work. Though taking a course for personal enrichment can be rewarding, it simply won’t carry as much weight as something relevant to your field. For example, a partner in an accounting firm will be more impressed with a candidate who learned about the latest tax codes than one who took a photography course.

If you participate in any of these activities, don’t forget to update your resume and cover letter to let employers know. Finally, remember that while these activities will keep you busy, don’t neglect your job search. Job hunting should always be considered your number one “job” while you are unemployed.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Doostang News Aug11: An Education in Teaching

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School may still be out for summer, but for recent graduates looking to begin careers as teachers, class is in session until further notice.

A successful teaching job search is like a part-time job itself, according to Washington University Graduate David Schwartz, who aspires to be a middle school teacher. David graduated with a BA in 2008 and an MA in 2009. He’s now parlaying his experience as a student teacher and intern into that first job.

We talked with David about his search strategy and what has worked for classmates who have already landed jobs. Not surprisingly, it takes discipline to conduct a thorough search and, once you land a teaching position, discipline (in the classroom) to keep it. Read on to learn how to begin your job search in the education sector.

Getting into Education with Wash U Graduate David Schwartz.

When and why did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?

When my classmates started coming to me for help in 7th grade, I realized that I was good at explaining things to others, and I liked it. I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher.

What has it been like experiencing the economic downturn as a student, and now as a graduate looking for a job?

As a student, I did have a limited budget, so more money had to go to food, and I had less money for other things. But in some ways, I haven’t been as affected by this economic downturn as those who have experienced “good times.” I’ve never been a graduate student or come out of school at any other time, so I have no basis for comparison. In my job search, it has made things more difficult because more people are going into education who had left the field, and so there’s more competition for the same jobs.

What’s worked well for you in your job search?

What’s worked well for me is leveraging my human resources. I have certain geographic areas that I’m interested in, so I have asked friends who are from those areas, or who still live there, for school recommendations and advice about living in those places. When I know people who went to the schools I’m looking at, I ask them to write short notes of recommendation.

The other thing I’ve done is send out a lot of applications, but I have carefully tailored each cover letter by looking at the school’s mission statement or district goals and finding three points I can say I’m qualified to address. It’s the old five paragraph essay.

What advice do you have for those looking to pursue teaching as a career?

When I look at my college friends who have been successful in their job searches, the common thread is that they jumped on the process early, starting in late January or over winter break.

And they’ve used a job search process that works.

Start by identifying where the jobs are posted that you want to pursue. Identify specific schools you are potentially interested in, based on location and whether you want public or private, and learn as much as you can about those schools. Keep separate documents and folders on your computer for each school/district.

Once March rolls around, start checking the websites where jobs are posted on a daily basis so that when something comes up you can jump on it quickly. Keep a master list of every school you contact, what you send them in your application, who the application is addressed to and a phone number for the school. Call them a week later to follow-up and ask a few questions, including the timeline for filling the position. Use this as an opportunity to express how interested you are in the position, and then write this down on your master list along with every subsequent contact you make with the school.

Thinking of the job search as a part-time job will put you in the mindset to give the search the time it needs to be successful.

You just came back from an out-of-town interview. How do you suggest preparing to give a good interview?

First of all, go in wanting the job. Period.

Wear a business suit and look the part. Make sure that your nails are clean and clipped.

You should have a good answer to the question, “Why do you want to work here?” Use the Web to find something you like about the school. Know the mission statement and think of how it relates to your approach to teaching. Have two strengths and two weaknesses ready, in case they ask for more than one. For your weaknesses, be ready to talk about what you’re doing to address them. Do NOT mention classroom management, even if it is a weakness.

If they say, “Tell me about yourself,” at the beginning of the interview, they are really asking, “What can you bring to this job, and why should we hire you instead of somebody else?” It’s perfectly fine to drop in character traits and experiences you’ve had that will help you in the classroom. It’s even better to drop in what you’re passionate about (such as a subject and/or age level) and what you’ve done with that passion.

A prompt thank-you note is a good way to stay in their head, even when they’ve moved on to interviewing other candidates. E-mail will work, but handwritten is better.

What is your future career plan, and what is your strategy for making it happen?

My future career plan begins with getting my first job as a middle school teacher. Once that happens, I plan to stay in the classroom for a long time. To make all this happen, my strategy is to impress my interviewers enough that they hire me (including having a good answer as to why I want to work at that school), and then develop a classroom management plan so I’m not fired on grounds of not being able to control my class.

Working your network to find connections at the educational institutions, or any organization where you’re applying can help you get in the door for an interview. Try a people search on Doostang to find connections who attended or work for the places you want to be.

And don’t forget to write thank-you notes to the people who have written you recommendations or made a call on your behalf. You never know when you’ll need to contact them again for help in your next job search.

Enjoy your August!

Team Doostang