A resume is a living, breathing document. As such, it is subject to change over the course of your career. Sometimes the most difficult work for a writer is editing and updating their own work. The same applies to resumes. When the time comes to update and add new material, you are inevitably faced with the question: When and how do you take the old "stuff" off your resume to make way for the new stuff?
First of all, you need to keep in mind the one-pager-rule for resumes: if you are still in college or seeking your first entry level job, keep your resume to one page. Any longer and your resume will actually be given less time in review, so keep it to one page as the standard. If you have one or two jobs post college, that is when you can decide whether or not to go to a second page. But until then, stick to one page.
So as a college student or recent grad with a one page limit, you should ask yourself the following question about every piece of content: Is this resume worthy? In most cases, you will have about fifty lines to work with on the resume. Think of each line as being worth $1, with a total of $50 to spend. Do you want to spend one (or two or three) of your fifty dollars on this content? Then begin using that same concept for updating and adding new content. Is this new content worth more than the old content which will need to be deleted to make space for it?
As you begin updating and adding content, there are several resume priority rules for you to follow for deciding what content to keep or discard:
- Remove your high school, trade school and other pre-college academics the day you enter college. It is assumed that you graduated high school if you are currently attending college. Don’t waste space on your resume to state the obvious.
- List your degree and major with a future date. Yes, resume reviewers understand by the use of the future date that you have not yet received your degree.
- You can list classes which are either currently in progress or expected to be completed by the time you would begin work.
- If you do not yet have internship or work experience in your field or industry, use your education section as your primary focus for your resume by including classes and key projects.
- As soon as you gain internship experience in your field, switch your primary resume focus from education to experience. At that point, more content should be dedicated to your experience than to your education.
- If you have a second internship, spend 50%-100% more resume space on the most recent internship than the prior internship.
- After you graduate and have your first entry level job, make that job your primary use of space in the experience section. Most entry level jobs last years, while internships only last months. Clearly the entry level job is primary and should be given priority for space on the resume.
- After graduation, your education section can be narrowed to 2-3 lines listing degree and date on the first line, college and location on the second line and GPA (only if above average per your industry peer group) on the third line.
- By your second job after graduation, you may want to either remove or limit your internship experience while in college.
- By your third job after graduation, drop your college internship experience completely.
As time goes on, you will continue to change and update your resume. Make sure you are careful with version control to always update only the most current version of your resume. Yet do not use a date in the filename when submitting your resume. Your resume filename should always be “First Last.docx” (or .pdf). Keep track of older versions by using “Save As” to save the old version with a different file name and/or the use of different folder names. Using different folder names is also a useful way to keep track of your customized resumes by employer.
For more information on building out your resume, including several samples and examples, please visit Entry Level Resumes at CollegeGrad.com.