Career Q&A: Is it Lame to Put High School Achievements on my Resume?

Q: As I start applying for internships and jobs, I’m wondering how much high school experience matters to potential employers. Considering that I’m a college sophomore now, how long is too long to keep listing my 10+ high school activities, honor societies and leadership positions on my resume? Does it look juvenile if I talk about high school experiences in interviews?
A: The rule of thumb for including high school activities (or college activities once you’ve graduated) is that you can go back four years (including your current year). So, if you are a sophomore you can include the last two years of high school stuff and the first two years of college; if you are a junior in college, you can include the last year of high school, etc.

However, my gut response is that I’d limit high school mentions to only one or two of your most impressive or unique accomplishments (e.g., president or founder of a club, captain of a sports team, contributor to a national news outlet). In the workforce, high school seems very young. Of course, if you have anything SUPER impressive from high school–a major award, national recognition, a Grammy, an Olympic medal, etc.–keep it on your resume as long as you’d like!

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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