Revamping Your Resume, Part 6: Kill Your (Outdated) Darlings

It’s hard to say goodbye. In the context of your resume, these farewells might center on accomplishments that you’re proud of or job descriptions you’ve worked hard on, but which have either outlived their relevance or been crowded out by more recent information. One important strategy for keeping your resume to a single page is to remove or reduce old content as you add new material. Here are some guidelines to help you keep your resume current.

First, think carefully about anything pre-dating the start of your undergraduate studies. As far as business school admissions committees are concerned, this is the starting point of your candidacy. Your high school diploma and associated academic accomplishments should not appear in the education section of your resume, nor should you include any high school employment or extracurricular experience—unless you’re a current college student with (very) limited work or campus involvement. What’s that, you got a great SAT score? Axe it. All it conveys to an adcom is that you still measure your accomplishment in terms of a high school aptitude test.

Second, your current job will be of most interest to admissions readers and potential employers, and it should occupy a commensurate amount of real estate on your resume. That is, the more recent the job, the more space it should take up on the page. Positions that you held several jobs or promotions ago should be included along with full descriptions of your basic responsibilities, though your accomplishments should not be detailed in as much depth as in your more recent entries. This is especially true for part-time work or summer internships you held during college; once you’re a few years out of school, these simply cease to be (as) important.

Finally, consider the hobbies, volunteer activities, and extracurricular involvements listed at the end of your resume. If your participation in any of these activities ended several years ago and you have no plans to pick back up (like the week you spent playing intramural softball or your brief stint in the college kazoo band freshman year), consider cutting these to make room for fresher content. (Faulkner once said: “Kill your darlings.” Do you really want to argue with Faulkner?)

We know it can be hard to delete interesting and valuable details from your past, but it can also be kind of cathartic. In fact, you might consider pairing this step of your resume revision process with a juice cleanse to achieve a maximum sense of renewal.


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