What doesn't belong on a résumé

Primary school, parental leave & Co: What should be included in the résumé - and what shouldn't?

No, this is not about lying to the recruiters. But the résumé should be a meaningful summary of your previous experience as well as meaningful additional information - and not a dissolute biography. The ideal length for a résumé is around one to three pages. So you have to be able to convince as a person on these one to three pages and not leave out any important details.

What must absolutely on the résumé?

There are certain basic rules for how a résumé should be structured. You therefore enjoy a certain creative freedom, but the submitted document should be clearly structured and contain the following data:

  • First and Last Name
  • address
  • contact details
  • Applicant photo
  • most important stations of the training as well as professional experience
  • special skills
  • private interests or engagements
  • date
  • place
  • signature

Many applicants nowadays consciously decide against the classic résumé in order to stand out from the crowd. As long as this most important information is still included and clearly listed, some HR managers will be happy to see it.

What about…

What now looks simple at first glance usually raises many questions at second glance: What do I do with gaps in my résumé? Where and how do I mention parental leave? Do I need to list dangerous hobbies? Do the recruiters really care where I was in elementary school? So there can be a hurdle or two when creating your résumé. It is therefore not only worth asking what needs to be on the résumé - but also what is not.

... gaps in the résumé?

Almost everyone has gaps in their résumé. However, you should avoid including them in the document without an explanation. Instead, it is important to fill these gaps in a meaningful way. So stay honest at all times, but "optimize" these gaps as best you can. Did you do a temporary job while you were unemployed? Then it is better to list it instead of leaving the period blank. Did you go on a trip after your studies? Even then, you score better with the international experience than simply leaving the period blank. Because one thing is certain: Every experienced recruiter will notice gaps immediately and you will be asked about them in the interview. So you need a meaningful and as positive an explanation as possible.

... parental leave?

A common reason for such a gap is parental leave. It is therefore difficult to keep silent about them - even if you are not obliged to include them in your résumé. If you were employed during parental leave, you can list it within this ward, but you do not have to. If, on the other hand, you have been unemployed due to parental leave, it usually makes sense to include this in your résumé to explain a long gap.


Even a phase of unemployment does not necessarily look good in the application. The HR manager will eventually wonder why you were unemployed for this period. At best, there is no gap here, but you can testify that you have used this time sensibly - for further training, a freelance activity, volunteer work related to your job, a language trip or whatever is honest and sounds positive.

... prolonged illnesses?

If you were unable to work due to a lengthy illness and therefore have a gap in your CV, you are facing a particular challenge. There are exceptional cases, i.e. some professions, in which you have to provide information about certain diseases. In principle, however, the following applies: Your health is your private affair. Illnesses should therefore not be discussed in the application, provided that they do not impair the position. Here, too, you should fill the gap elsewhere if you can do that without a lie. Otherwise, it is best to have medical documents ready to hand that testify that you are fully operational now and in the future.

…primary school?

No, where you were in elementary school is actually no longer of any interest to HR professionals these days. You can therefore safely omit this station. As a rule, it therefore makes sense to start your résumé with your first school leaving certificate or a relevant internship. Applicants with a very long résumé often only start with the highest school-leaving qualification. But there is also an exception to this rule: if your elementary school is something “special” in any way and speaks for you, take it up. Perhaps you spent your first school years abroad or you went to a renowned boarding school? So in the end you have to decide for yourself whether you consider this station important or not.

... the final grades?

Although grades are not the most important basis for decision-making, they are definitely interesting for many recruiters and you can see the certificates in the attachments anyway. Nevertheless, it is only usual to name the final grade from, for example, Abitur or university studies directly in the résumé if it was particularly good.

... the name of your parents?

For a long time it was customary for applicants, especially young ones, to give their parents' names. However, this is not an obligation and has now become rather rare. It therefore only makes sense to state your parents or siblings in your résumé if the recruiters know them and have a positive image of them. You can use the famous “vitamin B” if, for example, your father also works in the company or your sister has studied with the recruiter. In principle, however, you as a person should convince with your experience and qualifications. As a rule, the answer is therefore: No, parents and siblings are not mentioned in the résumé!

... stays abroad?

Nowadays you can always score points in applications with stays abroad. No matter how long ago it was and whether it was a year abroad during school, an internship abroad, a semester abroad, a language trip or simply a trip around the world: You should always mention this in the appropriate place on your résumé.

... (school) internships?

Especially for young professionals, every form of professional experience that they can provide is often important. Therefore, as a rule, all completed internships are included in the résumé. In the best of cases, of course, these already match the industry or activity for which you are applying. With increasing professional experience, however, they become increasingly irrelevant. So if at some point your résumé is full enough even without these internships from school and university, just list those that took place at well-known companies or highlight them in another way.

... hobbies?

Personal interests and commitments make you tangible as a person. So you are not obliged to include your leisure activities on your résumé. Above all, unusual hobbies, awards such as sporting successes or interests that are useful for your job, do well. For example, do you lead a soccer team? Then you certainly have leadership qualities, so the conclusion. Or have you had many sporting or musical successes in the past? Then you are probably a hardworking and determined person. So think for yourself whether and which hobbies you want to take up. On the other hand, you prefer to keep silent about dangerous leisure activities, after all, your potential new employer does not want a ticking time bomb in the company that could be canceled due to an accident or even leave completely. As you can see, a lot of information in a résumé requires a sure instinct!

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