Career Q&A: Is it lame to put high school achievements on my resume? | Lindsey Pollak's Blog

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!

  1. Emily Foley says:

    It’s definitely a good idea to list something amazing from high school if you show that it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. In order to decide whether an activity is resume-worthy, you should make a list of your responsibilities, skills and on-the-job accomplishments, according to Experience, Inc., a client I represent. The article on Experience.com also advises being creative but truthful- a lot of activities that don’t seem job-related, like producing short films with your friends or competing in triathlons, can demonstrate creativity, responsibility and persistence.

  2. Lindsey Pollak says:

    Thanks for the helpful advice, Emily. http://www.experience.com is a great resource for job seekers.

  3. Rick75 says:

    If your high school experience shows demonstrable skills in, say, leadership, project management, or maybe consensus-building (or even if you were on the debate team and became a very persuasive speaker), and you perfected those skills in college, it could prove very helpful in launching your career after college. At the very least, it can show an employer that you have a critical component of a needed skill set.

  4. You Have More Experience Than You Think (Part I) says:

    […] How far back should you go in your analysis? As a general rule, resume-relevant experience goes back four years for students and recent grads, unless you’ve done something super impressive like winning an Olympic medal or starting your own business, which you should always mention. Read more on the timeline for recalling your achievements in my blog post, Career Q&A: Is it lame to put high school achievements on my resume? […]

  5. […] How far back should you go in your analysis? As a general rule, resume-relevant experience goes back four years for students and recent grads, unless you’ve done something super impressive like winning an Olympic medal or starting your own business, which you should always mention. Read more on the timeline for recalling your achievements in my blog post, Career Q&A: Is it lame to put high school achievements on my resume? […]

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