ResumeFilter: Should I show life long interest with a high school job?
January 20, 2014 2:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm applying for a new tech support/programming job, and I'm unsure which of two older positions to put on my resume. There can only be one.

I'm applying for a position at a company that I would describe as very Silicon Valley-esque (Let's call it Haze Brook). They make it clear that they like applicants to have a wide range of technical knowledge. Through various blog posts, Haze Brook also seems to like applicants that have been interested in technology since a young age. I have a older job that helps shows that, but in the interest of keeping my resume to one page, it would be at the expense of a slightly more relevant job.

The job I'm applying for is a support position that includes a decent level of programming. My current position of 3 years is mostly programming, and my previous job of ~4 years was a mix of support and programming. Those two positions will be on my resume.

Prior to that (actually slightly overlapping for a few months), I worked in a support role for 9 months before I moved out of state for school. It's recent enough and certainly relevant but I feel that it doesn't illustrate anything beyond that. I wasn't there long enough to have any special accomplishments.

Before that, while I was in high school, I worked for a year at a family owned retail store, only leaving because it went out of business. I worked mainly with customers, but over time I wrote several ridiculously duct-taped-together pieces of software to help streamline inventory workflow. It was nothing fancy and I normally leave this job off, but I realized that this shows I've been interested in technology even before I was really working in the field.

To make everything fit on one page, I can only list 4 jobs. Because my 4 year job was really two different positions, I list it twice to explain my varying responsibilities. That then leaves room for my current position and one more.

Is it worth showing my early interest in programming in an attempt to catch their attention, or should I keep it recent and relevant? Either way the missing position would most likely come up in interviews. It will be on my LinkedIn profile as well.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Because my 4 year job was really two different positions, I list it twice to explain my varying responsibilities.

Don't do that. If it's one job where you switched positions, list it once with your final (presumably, most senior?) title, and explain in the job description all of your duties in both positions.

Also, are you submitting a resume you get to format yourself, e.g. as a PDF? if so, fudge the fonts and margins a bit to make it all fit on one page if you're like 3 lines over. If more than that, rewrite things to get it down to that point. If you don't get to format it yourself, if it's like "paste your resume into this box," don't worry about the exact length and just include the extra job.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2014

I used to be a recruiter at several large, very well-known tech companies. Ones that have the same hiring preferences you mention.

You don't need to get your resume to fit on one page. Now that nearly all resumes (particularly in the tech world) are submitted electronically, there really isn't a difference in a one-page resume and a one-page-and-three-lines resume. (Don't go overboard, though.) A lot of old resume books emphasize the one-page rule, but many of them were written before the move to online everything, and/or are more applicable to other industries.

That said, if you do want to get it down to a page, that's fine too. To be honest, neither of the two jobs you mentioned are likely to help you get an interview. Most tech companies are going to choose whether or not to interview you based purely on your education and last 1-2 jobs and the type of experience you gained in those roles. So I'd really focus your attention there. Also, I'll reiterate what Joey Buttafoucault said above - one listing for each place of employment only. So perhaps taking that out will allow you to get in a very brief mention of each of the old jobs.

The older jobs you mentioned are the kind of things that you might work into an anecdote in an interview and, in that case, I do think a nice little story about something you did in high school will charm many tech interviewers.
posted by leitmotif at 3:08 PM on January 20, 2014

OP here. Just to nip that "two jobs at the same company" thing in the bud: I understand that typical practice is two combine things like that, but they were entirely orthogonal to each other. One could be considered a seasonal position to handle a one-off project, the other was regular employment doing substantially different work. There's really no way to combine them.

In regards to the submission format, this will be submitted as a PDF via email.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 3:13 PM on January 20, 2014

The one page rule is alive and well. At some point down the line someone is probably going to print out your resume -- I conduct interviews sometimes at my tech firm and I bring a printed copy of the candidate's resume with me to the interview -- and if it is longer than one page, that's notable and unflattering.

I agree with the rest of the advice above.
posted by telegraph at 4:07 PM on January 20, 2014

But there is a way to combine them, surely. Maybe something like this?

Company Name Here on This Line

Regular Employment Position Name Here, 2009-2010
- duty/accomplishment 1
- duty/accomplishment 2
- duty/accomplishment 3

Seasonal Position Name Here, 2008
- duty/accomplishment 1
- duty/accomplishment 2
- duty/accomplishment 3

Having said that, I've been working for 29 years, and I've seen the one-page "rule" come and go. It means nothing. I interview candidates all the time--in the tech field--and I don't care how many pages their resumes are. If they can't edit and express themselves succinctly, that's when I stop reading.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:09 PM on January 20, 2014

Thanks for all the advice on the 1-employer/2-positions, but I won't be combining them (In fact, I essentially already have things written out as ImproviseOrDie suggests.) I also have reason to believe that one page is the preferred format.

My question is that I have 5 jobs, yet only room for 4 after everything else I need to include, and I'm not sure if I should list 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3,5.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:59 PM on January 20, 2014

I'd go with 1,2,3,4, if I had to keep it to 4, just based on recency. When I got out of college and was looking for professional positions, I dropped everything from high school, even if it was interesting. (And I had some interesting work.)

That said, OP, from your followups it sounds like you're not getting the answers you're looking for. Sometimes if you have a question up for this long and you're not getting what you're looking for, it means that folks think there's another solution that may hold promise for you. It can feel super frustrating from the asker side, for sure, but there's wisdom in the answers you have received.

I don't want to rock your boat, but there may be a better way to more properly represent yourself in the best light -- perhaps through a functional resume. I work with a ton of consultant resumes, and clinical professionals with 30 years of experience are often able to cram every position they've had since grad school into a single page using this method.

Good luck!
posted by mochapickle at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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