When you're crafting your new grad resume, some things are pretty obvious. Yes, include your internships. Yes, include your degree and graduation year. But once you get past the basics, things get a bit murkier.
What should you do if your GPA is, you know, not the best? What about those three semesters you worked at the campus bookstore? Does it matter that you were the MVP of your dorm’s ultimate Frisbee team?
Annoyingly, the answer to all these questions is “It depends.” Here's a guide that should help you out.
Keep it On
...If it’s above a 3.0. Leaving your GPA off your resume can sometimes give the impression that it’s lower than what it really is, especially if you’re applying within an industry like finance or consulting that typically expects to see this number on an applicant’s resume. However, this is definitely not a hard rule and a great question to bring up in an informational interview.
...If it’s really just not doing you any favors to leave it on. But again, broach the topic the next time you’re on a coffee meeting and ask what hiring managers think about this number. You can also consider swinging by your college career center to get their take on your specific questions.
Your Part-time Jobs
Keep Them On
...If they’re relevant to the position you’re applying to or you have some leftover room you want to fill. A part-time job, even if it’s not the most applicable in terms of industry, can show employers positive and desirable traits, the most obvious being your ability to juggle multiple responsibilities. Let’s say you stayed at your campus bookstore job for several semesters and were promoted to store manager; this could show off your commitment and even your ability to manage others.
...If they’re taking up room that could be used more effectively. While every job has some transferable skills to highlight, if you’re using up a lot of your precious space on making your work in the campus dining hall relevant instead of adding a couple more bullets under your internships, then you should reconsider.
Your Extracurricular Activities
Keep Them On
...If they’re relevant or were a significant part of your college experience. Internships are great, but because you’re pretty much at the bottom of the ladder, you won’t always be able to lean on these experiences when answering questions. If you’re asked about a time you demonstrated leadership, for example, you might have to refer to your extracurriculars—and that’s perfectly okay. Include them so that it makes sense when you ultimately talk about them in the interview. Plus, they’re a great way to make a connection with your interviewer. Who knows? Maybe he or she is also pretty great at ultimate Frisbee.
...If you don’t really have much to say about them. Everything on your resume is fair game during an interview. Don’t include extracurriculars if all you can say about them is that you attended an event once or that you were a member. You may also want to remove any activities that may be considered controversial. If, for example, Greek life at your school’s recevied some bad press recently, it may be best to leave it off.
Ultimately, your resume is going to be particular to you. You’re probably going to have to make some tough decisions about what to keep and what to cut. With that said, as long as you’re submitting a tailored (proofread!) version to each position with quantified bullet points, you’re on the right track.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author