Ideally, your resume should be one-page long, but definitely no more than two. No matter how cool you think you are, the truth is, employers are scanning your resume for keywords. The more “stuff” you can get rid of between those keywords, the better your chances at landing an interview. The first thing to do is delete high school from your resume.
We read a lot of resumes that contain irrelevant information, or worse, information that makes the candidate look childish, ill prepared, or unprofessional. The last reaction you want from a potential employer is a giggle at your expense. You also want to avoid eye rolls. Do yourself a favor and delete these items from your resume:
Trash High School Achievements on Your Resume
If you are trying to look professional to a potential employer, the last thing you want on your resume is a nostalgic look at your high school accolades. We know your mom was proud of you for making the honor roll. We love that your classmates remember the time that you scored the winning touchdown. Your membership in the National Honors Society or Who’s Who among American High School Students might have been cool back in the day, but it’s of no interest at all to a potential employer.
In fact, listing your high school achievements on your resume makes you look immature. You are a grown adult, and you have done bigger and better things than attending the pseudo-society that is high school. Mentioning your high school glory days is like asking for your resume to be thrown in the garbage.
The only exception to this rule is if you are writing a resume that isn’t intended for an employer, but instead is intended for a scholarship committee or college application—while you’re still attending high school!
Ditch College Sororities, Fraternities, and Clubs
If you were a social butterfly in college, that’s fantastic. We hope you used the opportunity to network with the right people (that is, those with connections that can help you find a job or otherwise grow your career). You should connect with all of your fellow former club members on LinkedIN—but don’t list your college club memberships on your resume!
Like listing your high school accolades, listing your college memberships makes you look immature. Again, you have better things to talk about. Where did you intern while you were in college? What volunteer work did you do? What skills did you master that you’re bringing to a potential employer? List that instead.
No One Cares About Your GPA
Be it high school, college, graduate school, or something else, no one cares about your GPA. Don’t list it on your resume.
The only exception to this rule is if the audience is academic. For example, if you are applying for a teaching assistantship, and your resume is 4.0, list it. If it’s 2.5, don’t list it. If you are applying for a professorship, it won’t hurt you to list your resume if it’s over 3.5, but it more than likely won’t help you either. Academic jobs require you to submit official college transcripts, so your potential employer knows your GPA anyway.
“Proficient” is Another Word for “Loser”
It seems like everyone struggles with what to write in the “skills” or “qualifications” sections of their resumes. The word that makes us (and potential employers) look to the heavens in frustration is “proficient.” Think about it: Would you want to hire a “proficient” heart surgeon? How about a “proficient” fireman?
The word “proficient” means “competent.” Yes, you want a competent doctor, but wouldn’t you rather have one with advanced skills and experience? When you’re competing with other candidates, do you want to look “adequate,” or do you want to look outstanding?
What’s worse is that most employers know that people embellish a bit on their resumes in terms of skills, so when an employer sees that you’re “proficient with Microsoft Excel,” they think, “Oh, so she’s heard of Excel and might be able to locate the software on her desktop.” Instead of using an adjective like “proficient” to describe your ability, try listing how many years’ experience you have using the software or performing the skill. If you have a certification in the skill, list that too.
Save Your Hobbies for Small Talk
We are well aware that one of the standard resume templates in Word has a place for you to list your hobbies. This might be the worst thing to have on your resume on this list. It’s at least tied with high school achievements for last place.
Hobbies enrich our lives. They unlock our creativity and make us well-rounded individuals. They give us something to talk about when making small talk. However, they have no place on your resume. Employers don’t care that you can knit, or that you go sailing on the weekends—at least not during the candidate sorting process. Save it for after you’re hired, or if the interview committee asks what you do for fun. Leave it off of your resume!