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Resumes Should Show What You Can DO (Not What You DID)

May 23, 2012

by Mark Babbitt, YouTern

I recently attended an online webinar on “the resume for the well-rounded student” presented by well-intended career services veterans. Unfortunately, at a time when near-graduates and students need all the high-quality counsel they can get, the webinar was not likely to help anyone find work – ever.

Why? The entire focus of the resume template featured in the webinar was about academic achievements – what the student DID in school. The presentation barely mentioned the need for the resume to demonstrate readiness to enter the workforce – or what the young professional can DO for an employer.


To hire the right person, I don’t need an entire resume section dedicated to GPA. Nor do I need one-third of a page listing “relevant coursework”. And, I absolutely do not need objective statements describing how book smart applicants may be. Yet, these three academic sections alone accounted for nearly one full page of resume content when many feel entry-level resumes should only be one page total? One full page… and I would still know nothing about the candidate’s ability to do the job?


Is being a good student and citizen important? Of course; first and foremost, we look to hire good people.

However, in the initial 30 seconds I, as the recruiter, am going to give your resume what really matters is not what you DID in school. What matters is what you can DO for the company, including:

  1. How the experience you’ve gained so far stacks up against your job seeking competition
  2. How quickly I believe I can get you up to speed – and become a contributor
  3. How well you’ll fit in with the existing team

Of my top three criteria… academics is nowhere to be found.

In fact, when I see a resume dedicated to telling me what a good student you are – with no mention of transferable skills, leadership ability or quantified real world experience – I (and many other recruiters, as well) will delete your resume (and it won’t take anywhere near 30 seconds to decide).

Your schoolwork is important – to your professors, parents and to you while you’re in school. It may also be important to those who hire “top of their class at Harvard” type talent. And, if my decision comes down to you and another top-notch candidate where every other decision criteria seem equal, your schoolwork will be a difference-maker.

If you follow the old-school advice given to those who attended that webinar, however, and present a resume that shows you as an “academic” student – and nothing else… you won’t stand a chance.


No one hires students. We hire young professionals capable of doing the job, right now. And your resume should reflect what you can DO for me now – and not what you DID in classroom.


About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.

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