Don't Pad that Resume: 3 Items to Leave out During the Post-College Job Search

When you're looking for a job after college, you go into panic mode. As a former career counselor, I can say with some measure of authority that nearly all recent grads overdo it. Of course, you're perfectly justified in doing so. The job market is a tough one out there, especially for those who've graduated from college in the past three to five years. At the same time, however, many recent grads are so anxious about getting a job that they make some serious mistakes in their job search strategy. One of the most common mistakes I've seen is padding your resume with inconsequential items that no employer really cares about. Here are a few of those items I've seen most often:

  1. Gigs like babysitting.
Most recent graduates like to include very job that they've ever had. Unfortunately, the jobs that your employer will take seriously really will only include those that you've had while you've been in college. DO include previous internships and related experiences, whether or not you got paid for them. For example, if you don't have that much job experience, do include volunteer activities, on-campus jobs, projects, and clubs that you participated in, especially if they relate to the job that you are applying for. Don't include pre-college stuff like babysitting, tutoring, delivering newspapers, etc.

  1. Hobbies unrelated to the job for which you are applying.
Many recent graduates are, for whatever reason, under the impression that employers want to know immediately what you do with your time outside of work. In all honesty, they don't care. It's great that you spend your time riding bicycles, playing tennis, reading, and writing short stories. But if any of these activities don't pertain to the job for which you are applying, there's no point in putting it in your resume. This mistake will only make you seem amateurish. On the other hand, if an employer asks you during an interview about your personal hobbies and interests, by all means, elaborate. Discussing interests during an interview, if asked, is a great way to establish a personal connection with your interviewer that'll make you memorable. But leave your interests off the resume.

  1. Vague, unsubstantiated skills like "communication skills."
All job seekers should seek to make the best use of the space on their resumes. Just like no one likes a cluttered home, no one likes a cluttered resume that fills up space just for its own sake. Under the "skills" section of your resume, only include hard skills that can be demonstrated by previous experience. These skills include a foreign language, computer skills, etc. You can demonstrate your "communication skills" and your ability to "work well with others" in the interview. No need to discuss these in the resume, just because everyone thinks they have great communication skills. It's meaningless on paper.

Of course, I'm in no way saying that recent grads should nix as much as possible from their resumes. At the same time, however, make every item that's on your resume count. Good luck!