We don’t need to tell you that the internship or job hunt is scary. And with so many qualified collegiettes (and collegents) applying for the same positions, you’ll want to include as much information in your resume as possible to make you stand out from the crowd… right? Not so fast—not everything should be on your resume! In fact, some information could actually hurt your chances, not help them. Get ahead of the curve; check out HC’s tips on what NOT to include on your resume and you’ll get that call back for an interview in no time.
Everything you’ve ever done, ever.
We know, we know—you worked so hard nannying that one summer, and you were employee of the month at your local grocery store two months in a row. But if you’re applying for an entry-level marketing position, the hiring manager doesn’t need to know all of that. “Do not add other jobs just to fill the page; go for related experiences,” says Carol Spector, director of career services at Emerson College. Tailor your resume for each internship or job you apply to so that only experience relevant to that position is listed—a resume from a college student or recent grad should never be longer than one page. Although it’s tempting to include every part-time job you’ve ever held, every award you’ve ever gotten, and every club you’ve ever been a part of, put only the highlights of your experience on your resume. After all, as Christy Walker, assistant director of University Career Services at UNC-Chapel Hill, points out, you’ll want to have something left to talk about at an interview! “The resume is only supposed to be… something to entice the person’s interest so that they can interview you and find out more,” she says.
After you’ve decided what experience is relevant to the position you’re applying for, make sure your descriptions are concise. Use bulletpoints rather than paragraphs to describe your experience. Tom Dezell, a certified professional resume writer and author of the book Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naïve Job Seeker, advises: “Don't make your résumé too long by listing the full details from all of these jobs that have no bearing on the skills required for jobs or internships. Most employers would view a multi-page résumé from a college student or grad as filled with fluff.” Dezell says that a concise one-page resume will be much more impressive than a two-page resume full of descriptions that may not be relevant. “What will help you is to focus what you list for these jobs on skills learned at these positions that MAY be relevant to a particular job. This shows the employer you've done some research on what a particular job requires, and doing so will make a positive impression,” he says.
Things you did in high school.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore in college, you can still get away with including experience you had in high school on your resume. However, make sure that the high school experience you include is worthwhile. “(Being the) editor of (your) high school newspaper is worth listing. Smaller membership in (a) club—not so much,” Spector says. If you’re a freshman or sophomore who received a prestigious award or accolade in high school, such as being a national merit scholar, you can still put those awards on your resume (however, Walker advises against listing SAT scores, even if they were high).
On the other hand, Walker says for juniors, seniors, and recent grads, if “you have things that you’ve done in high school, it’s time to let that go.” While you may have received impressive awards or accolades in high school, employers want to see what experience you’ve gained in college instead. If you’re a senior whose most important item on her resume is her high school student council position, your resume won’t impress employers. But if you’re an upperclassman whose college experience isn’t chock full of internships and job experience, don’t worry—and don’t fall back on those high school experiences. “Instead of putting high school activities, I would put a relevant coursework section,” Walker says. “You can elaborate more on the projects that you’ve done in classes, and that can kind of help pick up the slack a bit.”
Non-action verbs and personal pronouns.
You were the most hardworking, active worker at your past internships and jobs (right?), so use language that shows that! “You don’t want to say ‘I did this’ or ‘responsible for this and this and this,’” advises Walker. Instead, use action verbs like “managed” and “led”—it’s surprising how big of an impact a little diction change can have on your resume. Also, “you’ll always want to get rid of any kind of personal pronouns,” Walker adds. “‘I was in charge of doing such and such and such,’ ‘in our department we did blah blah blah’—you don’t want to use that.” For example, instead of saying “I was in charge of running the company’s Twitter account,” say “Managed the company’s Twitter account”—the action verb will give your sentence more oomph.