Career Resources

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes less is more on a resume

With many things in life, more is better. However, this is not the case with regard to resumes. I think it is human nature for most people to want to put everything they have ever done in their lives onto their resume. This reminds me of a cartoon I saw that said a resume is not an autobiography. How true! What good is a resume that is chock full of information that is totally irrelevant to the position? If you went into a store to buy a laptop, would it make any sense if the salesperson started talking about the features of the newest cell phone or iPod?

We have a strict rule in our career center that students' resumes must fit onto one page and often my counseling meetings revolve around helping students determine what to leave on their resume and what to take off. For some, this is a painful process because they have a deep attachment to their high school leadership activities and experiences and are reluctant to delete them from their resume. While I can certainly understand why students feel this way about their proudest accomplishments, they should begin phasing out some things from their resumes as they embark upon their internship or job search.

Students need to remember that a resume is a dynamic document, a constant work in progress. I always remind them that they will be adding and subtracting to their resumes during their entire career so they might as well get used to it. Even though I'm sure you laboriously perfected the resume you submitted with your college applications, that resume served a specific purpose and should not be the same resume you submit for job or internship opportunities. While you may have been the Captain of your football team or the Editor-in-Chief of your high school yearbook, there comes a point when you can no longer bask in the glory of prior accomplishments but need to move on to developing leadership activities in college and adding internship experiences to your resume.

When writing or reviewing your resume for a specific position, take a good hard look at EVERYTHING on your resume to determine if it is relevant for the position. This is similar to a company designing an advertising campaign to meet the specific needs of its target audience. If they do a good job of this, their customers will want to read the ad and buy the product. Likewise, if you carefully craft a targeted resume, the employer will be more apt to read it and bring you in for an interview. If something on your resume is totally irrelevant to the position, then you should take it off. Irrelevant items actually dilute and weaken a resume.

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