Andy Lester

Technology, careers, life and being happy

Should I put ____ on my résumé?

| 3 Comments

I read Reddit’s résumé subreddit regularly, and it’s one of the most common questions asked: “Should I put such-and-such item on my résumé, or leave it off?” The variations are endless:

  • Should I put a job on my résumé that I was at for only three months?
  • Should I put my college work on my résumé, even though I only was in for two years of a four-year degree?
  • Should I put my hobbies on my résumé?
  • Should I put my volunteer work on my résumé?
  • Should I put my high school education on my résumé?

The answer is the same for each of these examples: It depends on the job for which you’re applying.  Here’s how to analyze the situation and make the right choice for the job.

First, remember that the purpose of a résumé is to get you a job interview. Therefore, the question you have to ask yourself is “Will this piece of information help convince the reader to call me in for an interview?”  If it won’t, then leave it out.

Second, every position is different, so you must ask the question as it relates to the job for which you’re applying. You don’t have a single résumé that you blast out to the world. Consider every point on your résumé as it applies to the job for which you’re applying. For example, you probably don’t want to put on your résumé that you play guitar when applying for a job as a system administrator, unless you’re applying for that sysadmin job at a music publishing house.

All that said, here are a few items that you should almost definitely leave off a résumé:

  • “References available upon request,” which is assumed and is therefore noise.
  • A list of references, because these will be asked for at a later point in the hiring process
  • A photograph, which is inappropriate in the United States

3 Comments

  1. What are your thoughts on a bit more creative résumés? Appropriate only in some laid back enviroments? I made mine with symbols (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2256888/Resume%207-29.pdf) that I think are tasteful. But would these be inappropriate in formal situations?

  2. I don’t see anything wrong with your resume that would be a problem. I don’t think using those dingbats detracts from the resume, but neither do they add to it.

    I’d worry more about expanding out details of your experience. You have three bullets describing being a lifeguard which, I’m guessing, has nothing to do with any job for which you’re applying. The two jobs that you refer to that, again I guess, relate to jobs you’re applying for are pretty vague. What exactly are “various administrative duties”? Give details. How did you “ensure smooth church operation”? How did you assist the student producers with show production? Details help tell a story. To you, it’s clear in your mind what you did, but reading this I have no idea what work you’ve actually done. Details! Details! Details!

    You’re missing a lot of detail on your Activities and Service section. What does First Aid Support mean? What did you do? Does it relate to the job? Then tell us how.

    I also suggest that listing your Youth Mission Trips are irrelevant, unless somehow you did something there that relates to your future work.

  3. I’ve been on an interview panel for the last several months trying to hire a Senior UNIX Systems administrator. I’ve noticed a rather irritating trend of resumes being “pumped up” with keywords to the point they are painful to read. I assume this is an attempt to get past job sites and corporate resume filtering systems. The problem is it makes the resume look and read like an incompetent just cut’n'pasted together a bunch of catch words.

    Maybe doing this makes sense your inputting your resume to some mega corporations online resume submission site (what are the odds of getting hired that way anyways?) but, IMHO, it really hurts your credibility when a human has to look at the mess.

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