When I applied for my first job out of high school, my entire resume was made up of activities and clubs that I had engaged in during high school to make myself look impressive to the world. I was proud of the long list of things I had done: math team, speech and debate, and the like. I was convinced that I had picked up a plethora of skills that I could take with me for the rest of my life. But then I got most of my way through the first year of college here, and was told suddenly and harshly that it was time to take high school off of my resume. That was it— the long list of accomplishments that I had spent four years developing was erased in the time it took to hit the backspace key. Then I looked at my resume, and surprisingly it wasn’t empty. It was a good time to take high school off, to make room for more opportunities.
So when is the optimal time to break free of your past? My first recommendation is to start moving away from high school as soon as you can once you get to college; college is a great place to start forming new and exciting relationships with professors, and to get involved in clubs and activities, sometimes even the same activities you did in high school. These sorts of things will make great references and talking points on your resume that would draw any employer’s eye. And really— let’s face the facts— you’re in college now. Everybody knows that you went to high school, and did at least reasonably well, so it is definitely time to take your diploma or GED out from your education section of your resume.
There are other sections of your resume though. One big aspect of a resume will always be to choose relevant experiences to include. Sometimes the most relevant experiences will be from high school, and it is okay to use those for your first few years of college, but by the time you are an upperclassmen, it’s time to lose the training wheels. While you are in your first two years of college, though, you can pull from those things you did in high school- volunteer opportunities, and even select clubs and activities, they can all be relevant to a job you are applying for.
There is one last aspect of your high school experience, and that is one that will never have to be omitted from your resume— the skills you developed. By the end of high school there are some skills we might have developed: proficiency with Microsoft Office, intermediate skill in a foreign language, technical writing, public speaking, etc. These are all skills you can always boast on your resume all the way through college.
Remember when you are constructing a resume that you only want to put down the most relevant experiences, and sometimes those will come from high school, but college is a place to start developing new and exciting sets of skills to show off to employers.
What are the skills you attribute to your high school experience? How are you building on those in your current academics and career opportunities?
by Richard Thomas, Career Assistant