If you’re like many high school students, writing your first resume can seem like a catch-22. To get experience, you need to build a strong one, but to build a strong one, you need experience. What’s a teen to do?
Don’t worry. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you think outside the box it’s likely that you actually have a lot of experiences and skills that are already worthy of being on your resume. So, whether it’s for a part-time job or a summer program, in this post, we’ll outline why you need a resume and the five essentials you should include on your first resume.
What Is a Resume?
A resume is a concise description of your unique skills and experiences, as related to professional skills. It is usually one typed sheet of paper that outlines your experiences, whether they be work or otherwise, in a career-oriented way. This includes both things you have done and skills you have learned.
There are many different formats for resumes, and the format you use will vary more and more as you grow into certain professions or career fields. For example, in the service industry you might include a photo of yourself on your resume, whereas in a STEM field, you’ll include a list of specific programs you’re experienced running. For a high school student, though, it’s fine to keep your resume brief and fairly general.
Why Do I Need a Resume?
For most adults, resumes are just another part of a professional persona, but for teens, resumes can provide a valuable edge. In fact, they are absolute necessities for many selective summer programs, job applications, internships, and more. Even if you’ve never needed a resume in the past, there’s a good chance that you’ll need one soon.
Resumes are often requested when you are applying for a job or internship. Even in application processes where they are not requested formally, they are nearly always appreciated since they provide a focused summary of who you are as an applicant.
Resumes aren’t just for work, either. Sometimes you will need a resume for a scholarship application, a summer program, or even to secure a volunteer position. Many students even include them in their college applications or make them available at college interviews.
While you aren’t guaranteed that you’re going to need a resume anytime soon, they are simple enough to build and valuable enough to have that you should devote a few hours to putting together a strong one. You should always be prepared with a resume rather than regret that you don’t have one.
To get started on yours, be sure to include these five essentials:
1. Work Experience
This is the most obvious component of a resume, but many high school students struggle with it because they believe they don’t have relevant experience to include. This is why you need to broaden your definition of work experience.
Of course you should include any recent jobs you’ve held, but you should also include less formal experiences too. If you’ve helped your neighbors look after their pets or plants while they’re away, babysat for younger siblings, or even volunteered at the church nursery, you should include all of these things. Volunteer work and unpaid internships are also great experiences to include.
When you describe each of these experiences, try to include the time commitment, skills used and built during this experience, and any quantifiable results or summaries. For example, if you have looked after your neighbor’s dog and house consistently over the past two years while they’re on vacations, you might outline your experience like this:
(January 2016-Present) House and Pet Sitter:
Responsible for overseeing neighbor’s home and pet for periods ranging from two days to two weeks. Met all obligations consistently including walking and feeding the dog, watering all plants, reporting any changes or concerns immediately to the homeowner, and maintaining the home through general tasks such as bringing in the mail and shoveling the driveway. Exhibited trustworthiness and responsibility throughout.
In addition, if you can think of any specific ways in which this experience relates to a potential job or internship, be sure to state them. In the example above, if you are applying to volunteer at your local animal shelter, you might include that you developed confidence and comfort around unfamiliar pets.