I remember my first resume. I wrote it in college, and I used a very large 16 pt., Times New Roman font to make sure my page seemed covered (with minimal white spaces). What I didn't know then is that I used the oldest trick in the book. Everyone knows that large font equals little content. Please, don't try this at home!
Today many high school students are creating their first resume because it makes a great first impression for both employers and college admissions counselors. By attaching a resume to a job application or to a college application, teens are helping differentiate themselves from others. As we know, not all sixteen year-olds bring resumes into Super Stop & Shop or Al's Hotdog Stand, but those who do, may see their application suddenly reach the top of the pile.
The biggest question both teens and parents have about resumes is what to put on them. As we know, most teens don't have much work experience, and so they decide it's too soon to create one, but I say nonsense! Most teens have many accomplishments that can be placed on a resume, and if done right, they can create a well-formatted resume that grows with them each year as they learn more and gain more experiences.
To begin your first resume, here are the categories you can fill in. If you're having trouble thinking of anything to place in these categories, please see the examples I provide in italics to help you...
THE HEADER - This is where you place your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address, so an employer (or college admissions counselor) can contact you. Placing this information at the top center of your resume is key. It needs to stand out.
OBJECTIVE - This category lets your audience know about your future plans. This is the one area in your resume that will change depending on your audience. For example, if you're sending a resume with your college application, you will want to include your long-term goals. If you're sending a resume to an employer, you will most likely include short-term goals.
To attend college and complete all educational requirements to become a physical therapist.
Seeking a part-time position while attending college, which will utilize my strong interpersonal skills.
SKILLS SUMMARY - This category lists three to five skills or interests that you have that make you stand out. Here, the goal is to get your audience's attention by highlighting your abilities, showing a strong work ethic, and capitalizing on your uniqueness.
Bilingual in English and Spanish; Strong work ethic with excellent academic record; Two years customer service experience; Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Good listener; Excellent writing skills
EDUCATION - This is where you list your degrees and schools attended. If you're a high school student, you will want to list the high school you're attending.
Masuk High School, Monroe, CT; Candidate, High School Diploma (June 2015)
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT - Did you make the honor roll? Do you have a GPA that's a 3.5 or higher? Will you be graduating within the top 10% of your class? Did you take AP or college credit courses? Were you inducted into a national honor society?
3.7 GPA; Voted "Most Likely to Succeed;" Masuk High School 2013 Science Fair Award Recipient; Senior Class President
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES - This includes any activities like sports, clubs, band, or extracurricular involvement.
Member, Year Book Committee; Junior Varsity Football Player; Band Member, Saxophone; Drama Club - performed as a main character in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite; Girl Scout Cadette
EXPERIENCE - This category lists your work experience. Most people believe this category is only reserved for paid jobs, but the reality is that "experience" can come from volunteer work, internships, apprenticeships, and even job shadowing. Important skills can be learned from attending a specialized summer camp or from taking care of a loved one at home.
Volunteer, Habitat for Humanity, Bridgeport, CT (2012 - Present)
- Assisted with various demolition, construction, and cleaning duties to help refurbish an old house for a family in need.
- Worked as part of a team effort to reach goals and deadlines.
- Quickly learned new "hands-on" skills.
After reading through all these categories, most teens begin to realize they have more accomplishments that can be listed on a resume than they realize. A high school resume should never exceed one page, and so, with a little bit of thought and effort, they should be able to fill up this page with skills, activities, awards, and experiences that are all genuinely unique to them. Would you like more information about resume writing and formatting? This post is the first of a three-part series, so stay tuned...
Annette Bosley-Boyce is the author of The College Success Plan and the Director of the Evening Division at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT. She has over 13 years of combined college teaching and administration experience. For more quick and easy college planning tips, please see her on Twitter andFacebook.