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If you’re in high school, and have little to no work experience yet, creating your first resume can feel more intimidating than the actual job search. Fortunately, we can help you make crafting a resume as easy as following a simple format. With some key information in the right order, you’ll stand a much better chance of getting the job you want.
A resume is a one-page document that summarizes your experience, skills and other relevant information. The purpose is to show that you’re a good candidate for the position you’re applying for. It should be formal, professional, relevant and brief.
Resumes give potential employers a way to learn about applicants quickly and easily, and they’re your first step toward new job opportunities. An interview is the next step in the hiring process, but a great resume is how you get your foot in the door.
The art of a resume is to present yourself as the best candidate for a position. For high school and college students, a long job history is not necessary for a strong resume. Instead, you can emphasize the skills and knowledge you’ve developed in your studies, internships, activities or volunteering.
If your work history has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for, or you don’t have much work experience, you can still highlight abilities and experiences that are relevant to the job you want. In this guide, we’ll show you how.
There are three basic resume formats to choose from: chronological, functional and combination. It helps to familiarize yourself with these options before deciding on the right format for you.
This is the most common resume format, but it might not be the best if you don’t have much previous work experience. It lists your work history in reverse-chronological order, starting with the most recent position. It’s often headed with a Career Objective section. We’ll talk about these sections in more detail later in this post.
On a chronological resume you’ll also want to list your education in reverse-chronological order, starting with the most recent school you attended or relevant courses you’ve taken. Don’t worry about listing any of your education history prior to high school as it is nonessential and will only clutter your resume.
Be aware, prospective employers will toss your resume aside if all they see is work that’s not related to the job they’re looking to fill, or if your resume looks empty because you don’t have much experience to list.
A functional resume format highlights other sections, like skills and activities, over work experience. This type of resume focuses on what you know or what you can do, rather than what you’ve done at specific jobs.
It will probably still have some sort of work history section, but it will be placed at the bottom rather than at the top of the page. Your work history might not necessarily be listed in chronological order on this type of resume. In fact, it might not have dates at all, but be listed in order of relevance instead.
Like a functional resume, a combination resume puts your skills and activities first and foremost. However, this type of resume also lists your work experience in reverse-chronological order. It just doesn’t put it near the top like a chronological resume does.
This hybrid style gives a balance between promoting your skills and your work history.
Your resume always needs to include your name and contact information. List your name, phone number, email address, and city and state at the top of your resume. You don’t need to include your full street address.
Everything else can be adjusted to fit your unique experience. For example, your resume could include any of the following:
Each of these sections will consist of a heading in bold or slightly larger font, followed by details about that section. For example, under the Education heading, you might list the schools you attended and the subjects you focused on.
Don’t use a section if you don’t have enough information to flesh it out. If you only have one thing to list, it’s probably not worth the space to add that particular section.
Every section requires a slightly different approach. Let’s break it down and see how they play out.
The Career Objective section shows what kind of job you’re looking for. It consists of one or two sentences near the top of your resume that describe your desired job or career trajectory. This statement is focused primarily on your career goals.
Just be sure that your career objective focuses more on how you plan to help whomever it is that you want to work for. Note in the above example that your objective is to offer excellent host service to a restaurant and their guests. That statement offers incentive to the restaurant.
And, it reads a lot better than telling your employer that you want to be a host so you can save money to buy your first car or save for a vacation. That will hurt you. Keep your intent on helping and growing with the business, not helping yourself.
If you’re a student who happens to have more work experience, you can opt for a resume Summary Statement. A summary is a short paragraph that demonstrates how your experience and key skills established in previous jobs will benefit the potential future employer. Your professional summary statement is employer-focused. This statement should be customized to each position for which you apply.
I’m an energetic, enthusiastic and active individual with a strong knowledge of grocery items and their use by people from different economic and social backgrounds. I have a business mindset and am willing to apply these abilities to be an excellent grocery store employee.
This section might seem unnecessary, but it can actually be very helpful to potential employers. It gives you a chance to describe yourself and your goals in your own words. It can also be useful when you don’t have much concrete employment history, but do have proficiencies that potential employers should know about.
Make sure the objective or summary is short, clear and professional.
You likely have abilities that could be relevant to a particular position you’re applying for. These can be listed under Professional Skills.
Make sure these are relevant to the job you want. If you’re applying for a gardener job, no need to mention “cash register,” since that skill doesn’t apply to that job. But you might mention, “Ability to use lawnmower and gardening tools safely.”
If you have no work experience, this section can help demonstrate that you’re still a good fit for the position.
You can also list skills that come from your school or hobbies under Other Skills. Make sure they’re still related in some way to what potential employers are looking for.
Here’s a helpful list of key skills you might want to note:
Under this heading, list the name of the company you worked for, your job title and dates of employment. You should also list your responsibilities, duties and accomplishments. That way, it’s clear what kind of experience you gained. Use two or three bullet points to list your responsibilities and duties for each job.
This can be a difficult section to tackle on a teen resume, since you might not have any employment experience yet. Don’t worry though. Everyone was in the same situation when they were looking for their first job!
If you have no prior work history, you can leave this section out and focus on the other sections. If you do have official work experience, it’s important to mention it in this section, especially if it’s a job similar to the one you’re applying for.
Even if you weren’t officially employed, you probably have more employment experience to put on your resume than you think. Part-time work like babysitting, lawn mowing, tutoring, and even volunteer experience or community service all count as good examples of work experience on a high school resume.
One difficulty that a lot of students have in finding a job is this classic paradox: You can’t get a job if you have no experience doing it, but you can’t get experience without a job.
But there’s a way around this. You probably have used related skills that come from completely different jobs.
Think about the work experience that you do have. Did you use communication to defuse an argument between the kids you were babysitting? Or, did you handle money while volunteering at a fundraising event?
Write down what skills you used, and how they might relate to the job you want. This is an easy way to figure out what to put on your resume.
By customizing your resume for the job you want like this, you can show employers you have the ability and experience they’re seeking.
To guide your brainstorming, here are a few key skills employers might be looking for:
This step is important because if you include the skills that you think your employer is looking for, you stand a far greater chance of landing the job.
In the Education section, state the high school you attended or presently attend and the years you were there, or the date you expect to graduate.
If you do well in school and maintain a high GPA that would be good to include on your resume as it shows that you’re hardworking and care about achievement. It’s probably not helpful to include your GPA if it isn’t above 3.0.
If there are classes you’ve taken that are relevant to the job you want, you can list that coursework here. You can mention your future education plans, too.
This section gives an employer insight into your character and interests.
Think of extracurricular activities, sports and clubs you’ve participated in. Taking a lead role in a school play? You are probably creative. Playing football? You might be a good team player. These are qualities that employers are looking for. Some examples of school activities that could look good on a resume include:
Just like with skills, only list relevant activities here. Write down the activity, dates and your role/position.
If your resume is short on work history, you can list more details about your activities to show what you gained from them. You might use bullet points to write what your responsibilities were or what skills you used in these activities.
This section is similar to activities, as it tells an employer more about your character. Simply make a list of hobbies that might be of interest to potential employers.
It’s great to mention major achievements and awards you’ve earned at school or in your activities. Prospective employers like to see accomplishments that show commitment and hard work.
A reference should be someone who can vouch for your knowledge and abilities, or who can confirm your employment experiences.
Your teachers, coaches or former employers can be good references. Listing your friends or family as references is not recommended, but can be acceptable if you actually worked for them.
Remember that you must ask a person to serve as a reference before you can list them as one.
Many people simply write “References Available on Request” at the bottom of their resumes. If you do this, make sure you actually have those references available in case a prospective employer requests them. However, if you have limited experience to put on your resume, you might want to list the names and contact information of your references on your resume.
These teen resume samples will make getting started easy. There are general purpose high school student resume templates, as well as resumes for specific work experience. These samples will guide you with a professional resume format and a basic idea of what to write. We also have student resume examples and other professional resume templates.