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Read on to learn how to create your first resume! Use this guide to put together a resume (even without “work experience”), check out our sample resume, and get a free high school resume template.
Below you’ll find an example resume and a resume template that works great for teens. You’ll also learn some tips on how to land—gulp—your first job! Let’s get started.
A resume is a fancy word—French, no less—for a one-page document that lists your work experience. Resumes also generally list your education and relevant skills to the job that you are applying for. The idea is to give a potential employer a summary of your talents and experience in a way that frames them—and you— in the best possible light. If there is a particular field or location where you’d like to get a job, handing out your resume to potential employers may help you get your foot in the door.
In the classic film Legally Blonde, heroine Elle Woods has a resume that is scented and pink (for a little “something extra”). While there is absolutely no need to take it that far, it’s true that each resume is unique. Some resume how-to’s will tell you to put one section always at the top, while another, equally credible guide will tell you to put the same info at the end. There are many approaches, and none are right or wrong! Depending on the point you’re at in your education and career, the position you're applying for, and personal preference, your resume may look really different from the next.
Though there are a lot of different resume templates, following these steps will lead you to resume success:
Let’s go through the components you need to make your resume stand out.
1. Your name and contact info
Your name should be at the top, in the largest font size on the page. Second from the top should be your contact info. You can include your state and town, but don’t give out your address. Lastly, your email should be professional—it can be your school email or just your name, but it shouldn’t be too silly (firstname.lastname@example.org might not be taken seriously!)
2. Your objectives, or personal statement
Though not every resume features one, this is a great idea for a resume for a high school student, because you are just starting out. So it’s time to set some intentions! Here’s a couple examples of personal statements meant for specific jobs:
“Driven and compassionate individual great at communication seeking to expand my professional skills as an animal shelter worker, where I can use my love for animals to help the shelter care for pets seeking their forever home.”
“Creative and fast-learner with excellent visual design skills looking to gain experience and develop my customer service expertise as a print shop attendant where I can use my flair for graphic design.”
List where you’re attending school and/or any certifications or awards you have, like if you are in any honors or AP programs, won a prize for writing an essay or for athletic achievement, are taking any college classes, or have your GED. You can also list extracurriculars here.
4. Work experience
I know what you’re thinking: What if I don’t have any work experience? How can you get work experience, before you have work experience?
Fear not, fellow job-seeker. You can list gigs here, like babysitting or yard work, volunteering or extracurriculars. These things help show off your responsibility and take-charge-itude. Make sure to add around three bullet points to describe the job. Use action verbs (“Cared for young children” “Mowed grass and built fences” “Designed flier for robotics club”) to talk about your responsibilities and accomplishments. Include when you worked or volunteered and in general, start with the most recent gig and work backwards.
5. Relevant skills
Here’s where you talk about where your strengths lie. Examples of skills you might list on your resume as a high school student could include:
You can also talk about technical skills, such as:
6. Make it specific
When applying for jobs, be sure to tailor your resume to fit the profile that the employer is looking for. Review the list of desired qualifications (if posted) and make sure to highlight any skills or experience you have that they need!
7. Ask someone to proofread
To make sure your first resume is as professional and polished as it can be, ask someone to review it! This can be a guidance counselor, parent, teacher, or just someone who you trust. You want to make sure your resume is as good as it can be before you start handing it out, and that definitely means checking for spelling and grammatical errors.
We’ve included a free sample resume here for someone who is applying for their first job. Most first jobs will only require an application, not a resume, but it never hurts to go above and beyond when applying for a job. Even if you haven’t “officially” had a job before, a lot of teenagers have at least taken gigs mowing lawns, babysitting, tutoring… Speaking of which, here are some other ways to make money before you’re 18.
Volunteer work can be just as important as paid work when it comes to writing your first resume, because you are really looking to show your potential employer that you’re capable of working hard, supporting others, and staying organized. Things like volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping organize a bake sale or another fundraiser, or doing extra work for a school play or function (like a dance) can all work to your advantage.
Resumes for high school students are a bit different than those for adults. That’s why we’ve created a free resume template specifically for teenagers. You can download it here. Enjoy, and good luck!
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