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Q: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better ( Answered,   7 Comments )
Subject: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: lunamoon-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 11 Sep 2006 14:18 PDT
Expires: 11 Oct 2006 14:18 PDT
Question ID: 764250
Hi all,

A few years ago, I went to study in a foreign country and I hadn't had
a good time. I had a few B's and C's in my grades and they made me
more depressed and then I had got more B's and C's and eventually
sought transferring to a school in the States. After that things
changed dramatically -- I became a straight A student and graduated
with an above 4.0 GPAs.

I remembered that I was so embarrassed and depressed during that
period that I virtually fled the place without even notifying my
mentor/advisor and the school. Later the school sent me a letter but I
did not pay attention to it because I didn't want to recall back that
bad memory.

Now my headache is: how do I put these two years in my resume? 

Do big companies such as investment banks look down drop-outs? 

I did not get any degree, what shall I put in my resume for this period?

Even worse, will they and/or the background checking company call my
previous mentor and advisor to add salt to my wound? I know he won't
say anything good about me.

Here is what I plan to write in my resume(I could not leave it out,
because otherwise there will be a 2-year hole):


19xx - 19xx: Undergraduate study at XXXXXX University, 
Dropped out without receiving a degree. Transferred to the US school. 
GPA: 2.05/4.00. Myserably failed due to unfavorable study environment
and depression.


Could the experts here give me some good suggestions? Will the
recruiter think I am a loser? How can I make it more positive? What
will the background checking company do with my failure? Will the HR
people in the companies dwell on my past failure forever?

Thank you very much for your help!
Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
Answered By: denco-ga on 11 Sep 2006 15:08 PDT
Howdy lunamoon-ga,

Having had a similar experience of going to one school (engineering), not doing
so well, and then going on to a second school (art) and doing better, I am not
unfamiliar with your circumstances.

Your future employer is going to be (far) more interested in the school from
which you attained your degree, and more impressed by your GPA from there, than
your two years at the other university.

Simply place the following in your resume:

19xx - 19xx: Undergraduate study at XXXXXX University

In "worst" case, someone doing a very serious background check might contact
this university to see if you attended that school.  That is about it.  No one
is going to consider it a failure, as all that really matters for the company
is that you graduated from a college with a 4.0+ GPA.

If asked about it, just tell the interviewer that you wanted to try a school
in another country, it didn't work out, but you learned from the experience.

If you don't make a big deal about it, no one else will.

I would strongly suggest you review the rest of your resume, and keep it to
a format that does not include any commentary, in other words, just keep it
to the pertinent facts.  This should include your education, skills and work
experience, emphasizing your strengths, especially in regard to the position
for which you are applying.

The Virginia Tech website has a nice page on resumes that you could review
for some typical content and formats that you could use.

"Resume formats and samples"

The above website has a section that covers the use of GPAs in a resume.

"'Should I include my GPA?' and other FAQs"

If you want me to review your resume, feel free to remove the personal
information (replace company and school names, etc. with XXX as you did with
your question) and post it here as a request for clarification.

If you need any clarification, please feel free to ask.

Search strategy: Personal experience.

Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher
Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: apoptosiss-ga on 11 Sep 2006 14:24 PDT
OMG! Dont put miserably failed and dropped out in the Resume!

Resume only should have the dates, the name of the school, and the
area of study THATS IT!

Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: pinkfreud-ga on 11 Sep 2006 14:24 PDT
I don't mean to be snarky, but my first suggestion is that it's really
important to use a spell-checker. A résumé that contains a misspelling
such as "Myserably" is likely to put you in a very unfavorably light.
Actually, I'd leave this word out entirely. You don't stand to gain by
emphasizing the failure.
Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: kemlo-ga on 11 Sep 2006 15:55 PDT
Also leave out any reference to depression.

To some that implies mental instability or insanity.

Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: mathtalk-ga on 11 Sep 2006 22:49 PDT
Don't lie.  Do put your "best foot forward".  In this case I'd suggest:

19xx - 19xxx   Studies abroad, XXXXX University.

Since you later graduated from another school with a valid degree, I
see no reason not to give yourself credit for having been motivated
and enterprising enough to try something different when you were
younger and could afford to take the risk.  It may well resonate with
the very employer you'll want to work for.

Maybe you did bite off more than you could chew.  It seems likely to
me you learned some important life lessons because you were brave
enough to take a path less traveled.  I think you are being too hard
on yourself.

regards, mathtalk-ga
Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: stanmartin1952-ga on 12 Sep 2006 01:13 PDT
I think you shouldn't put anything. It's better to explain it face-to-face.
Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: barneca-ga on 12 Sep 2006 04:05 PDT
relax.  you act as if you were ashamed of this period of your life,
but there really isn't anything to be ashamed of.  you were young
(what, 19 or so?), you made mistakes (pretty minor ones in the grand
scheme of things), you improved tremendously, you move on.  that's
pretty much how life is supposed to work.

resume-wise, denco's advice is spot-on.

good luck.

Subject: Re: Please critique on a hole in my resume and help me write it better
From: frde-ga on 12 Sep 2006 05:54 PDT
1) Take Denco up on proof reading your CV

2) Use a spell checker, a good method is to Google the various versions
   - a smarter method is to use words that you know you can spell

3) Avoid anything negative in a CV or an interview
   - easy to say, and hard to do

Did you change courses as well as universities ?
Was your 19XX - 19XX university in a different language ?

Personally I would put:
  19xx - 19xx: XXXXXX University

And leave out any explanation, it will intrigue the person reading the
CV and probably swing an interview.

At the interview you can simply say :  
  bad g/f (or b/f) trouble - I was young and inexperienced

It might be an idea to work out a little story, you don't need to tell
it (It's just too embarrassing) but it makes lying easier.

The most important thing is to convince yourself that it does not matter.

Actually there is quite a lot to be said for people who know when to
stop flogging a dead horse - provided they are not bitter and twisted

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