How To Pick And Choose What To Put On Your Resume

Having a perfect resume is the key to getting that job or internship you have your eye on. Like, it’s kind of the thing that lists all of your qualifications, right? But you already knew that.

What you might not have known is how to pick and choose what you want to include on your resume. You’re a total rock star who is super qualified for this position, so it’s totally fine to chat all about that, right?

Turns out, wrong. Chances are, you’re a high school or college student who’s looking for a rad internship or your first post-grad job, which means you kind of need to keep it down to one page. After all, you only really have like, six years of working experience tops. Employers only want to know the super important or super awesome stuff, which they expect to only last you one page.

You might think this is totally unfair and The Worst Thing Ever, and that’s fine. You should still keep it down to one page and gripe about it later (and preferably not to someone you want to hire you). If you don’t? The hiring manager probably won’t like you very much, and definitely won’t read the whole thing, running the risk of missing key info. So here’s how to pare it down:

Get rid of irrelevant experience.

Well, duh, get rid of irrelevant experience, but it’s all relevant, hence why it’s on your resume and hence why you’re in this pickle.

Chances are, what you’re thinking is relevant and what a hiring manager thinks is relevant are two different things. Read: Your summer scooping ice cream is not relevant to that full-time account executive job.

Go through everything you’ve listed on your resume and ask yourself if it serves a purpose. Does this show your employer that you have mastered a critical skill? Was this experience with a major player in your industry? Does this accomplishment or skill really make you unique, or is it like how everyone’s mastered Microsoft Word?

Side note: For some of us (looking at you high schoolers and college freshmen and sophomores) scooping ice cream really is the most professional experience that you have, and that’s okay! Remember, this step is about determining what is relevant for the job you’re applying to. If this is your first professional experience, the relevant skills employers are looking for are about professionalism, the ability to be punctual, the ability to work with a team, all of which can be conveyed in a blurb about your summer job if you give it the right flare.

Double-check your job descriptions.

When writing a resume one of the biggest mistakes people make is adding a wonky job description. Making sure these are tight, clean, and to-the-point is the key to making sure your resume is really effective.

Do this by making sure your bullet points are actionable and quantifiable. “Increased content output productivity by 25 percent,” is an excellent bullet point. “Served as content contributor,” is a pretty weak bullet point. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the hiring manager is going to be able to determine the logistical details of your position by the job title, so get to the point and let them know what you did to make you stellar in that role.

Did you do so many awesome things at your summer internship that you can’t possibly chat about it all on your resume without looking like a crazy person? You’re definitely not alone. This is what cover letters are for. Choose your best bullet points by looking at what you did that was out of the ordinary in your job.

Did you lead a rebrand? Did you give a major presentation? Did you create something that was used in the real-world? Let them know in short bullet points here, and discuss the big picture in your cover letter.

Cut the nonsense info.

Most of the time if you just do a little bit of tweaking to your personal information, you’ll be all set in the resume department. Make sure you cut out all of the junk so you have a no-nonsense resume.

Keep personal info down to your highest level of education, your college major (if you have one!), and contact information. If it’s an industry standard to include other information, by all means please do so, but in most cases you’ll be all set with this. Pro tip: If you haven’t declared a major, try listing the major you’re interested in so employers know you’re on the right track for whatever the position is.