In the resume world, “rules” are a fickle notion. Some resume traditions have to be obeyed under all circumstances. Others are bendable, and breaking them can help you stick out. When you’re 25 years old and looking for work, sometimes that’s all you need: To simply stand out from the masses.
Here are some general guidelines for the 25 and under crowd:
1. Include your college or high school GPA in your education section.
Use this advice only if you graduated less than three years ago and your GPA is higher than a 3.5. If these two conditions don’t apply, keep this number to yourself and away from your resume. No matter how hard you worked to earn your final grade, continuing to include it as you approach middle age suggests that you haven’t turned this early form of high potential into a history of bankable accomplishments.
2. Use your summary to emphasize your professional goals.
Before 25, your summary should emphasize where you’d like to take your career in the future. After 25, you can mention your professional goals, but focus more heavily on what you’ve already done and what you’re currently accomplishing. We’re all impressed by young people with high ambitions they haven’t yet fulfilled. But by age 30, ambitions should be balanced with concrete achievements. And by age 40, concrete achievements should take center stage.
3. Rely on well-chosen industry terms and meaningful jargon to demonstrate your understanding of the field.
Job seekers under 25 can impress employers by showing that they know how to talk the talk. This strategy works because most young job seekers don’t. Carefully chosen insider language demonstrates a degree of real knowledge and experience, which are hard to find among recent grads. But after 25, what were once “well-chosen industry terms” now sound like empty buzzwords intended to mask a lack of real substance and real insight.
4. Include all of your basic computer competencies in your resume, regardless of the position you’re seeking.
Younger job seekers can sometimes score points by mentioning their proficiency with software programs. For some positions, even a familiarity with social media can help job seekers come off as tech savvy and in-touch. But this rarely works for those who have moved beyond the entry level. After age 25, only emphasize your fluency with programs and platforms that are rare, those that relate directly to the position, those that come with hard certifications, or all three.
Resume Guidelines Are Just That
Of course, there’s no obvious line that all job seekers cross at midnight on their 25th birthday. The tips above are loose guidelines based on the fact that hiring managers are human beings who are subject to their own feelings and impressions, just like the rest of us.
As always, a clear, honest, professionally formatted resume will be your most effective tool during any job search, regardless of who you are or what you’re looking for. Give yourself every advantage by heading to LiveCareer and using the site’s Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder.