Here are six things that make your resume look less professional, and what you can do to avoid them:
1. Short-term jobs. If you quit a job after a few weeks because you couldn't see your future there, don't put it on your resume. Employers look at short-term jobs as a sign that you're flighty, and you want to avoid that perception at all costs.
If you have more short-term jobs (that relate to the one you want) than long-term, or many short-term consulting arrangements, you can add them into a section for one year. If you are listing many consulting assignments, make sure it's clear in your resume that it was not a full-time, permanent position.
2. Job experience that doesn't relate. If you're trying to work as an administrative assistant, but one of your past jobs was working as a restaurant server, leave that one off the list. However, if your job history doesn't provide enough experience for the Work History section of your resume, find ways to connect the unrelated work to what you want to do.
For example, when you worked as a server, were there any tasks that related to the administrative assistant position you're vying for? You might be surprised to find that some of the skills you learned will translate for the job you want. Highlight these points in your resume.
3. Every responsibility you had at a job. Focus on a high level, and keep only what relates to the job you're applying for. A resume isn't the place to copy your job description; instead, it's meant to highlight the best of what you've done at past companies and tie it to what you will do with your next employer.
4. References. While you do need a list of people who can vouch for you as an employee and overall exemplary citizen, you don't have to include the list with your resume. And don't add the phrase "References Available Upon Request." It's a given you have and will provide references when it comes to that point in the interview process.
5. Hobbies. Many argue that listing your hobbies on your resume gives the employer a better sense of your overall character. While that might be true, hobbies can also be used against you and employers can jump to conclusions about you before having the chance to meet you. Unless the hobby relates to the job you want and it's not covered in your job experience, keep it off.
6. Why you left a job. Save this for the interview. Some job applications may ask for this information, but never volunteer it on your own. Explanations on your resume are required to be brief and could easily cast you in a negative light. It's much better to discuss this in person when you'll have the opportunity to explain further, if necessary.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.