A well-written resume can be a key to success when looking for a first job or applying for a scholarship or competitive academic program. Even with no “real-world” work experience, you can still make an effective resume as a teen. Here are eight tips for writing a first-time resume or a first job resume as a teen. See a sample teen resume below.
Know the Purpose
Identify the goal of the resume. A resume to get a job as a lifeguard has a different purpose than one for getting a philanthropic academic scholarship. Review the job description or qualifications and make a list of the essential requirements and preferred requirements.
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The essential requirements, or must-haves, are fixed or firm prerequisites such as: “Must have a clean driver’s license” if applying to be a delivery driver; or “Must have a GPA of 3.5” if applying for a specific academic program. These requirements are usually not flexible, and your resume should show that you meet them to be considered.
Preferred or ideal qualifications are nice to have, but may be flexible or could be satisfied a different way. A preferred qualification might be written as “Previous retail experience preferred” or “Applicants with volunteer work in social justice preferred.” If you have the preferred qualifications, be sure to include those qualifications. If you don’t have an exact preferred qualification but something similar, you can include it in your resume.
For example, while you may not have retail experience but have volunteered multiple times at the local thrift clothing store, that work can show you are interested in clothing and have some experience with a retail environment. The addition of similar experience is useful if it helps to make you more qualified than someone else who has no preferred or similar qualifications.
Choose a Simple Document Format
You can start with a blank document or use a resume template on Word or Google, but be sure to select one that is simple, without graphics, tables or other complex formatting styles. Often those templates do not load correctly or clearly into the Applicant Tracking Systems that are used as databases of candidates. Complex templates can also be difficult to update later. Most ATS do best with Word documents when submitted online via a posting portal.
Each resume section except for your contact information and your summary can have a title to separate it. You can use something as simple as: “Education, Experience, Skills” to designate each area. All caps, small caps, bold or just a little color and/or an underline can be effective ways to add some style to the section headings while still having a clean, easy to read appearance. A teen resume should almost always be one page, in 10-11 point font with standard page margins.
If emailing a resume, a PDF version works. If you’re bringing it in-person, you can use anything that results in a professional and easy to read format on a clean, unfolded piece of white printer paper.
Professional Contact Information
In the body of the resume – not in a header – include your name as you would want it on a paycheck, your best contact phone number and a professional email address. This is not the time to use [email protected] Instead, use an email address that is a combination of your first and last name or something else that is simple and professional. Be sure it is an email address that you check multiple times a day – including spam and clutter folders. You do not need to put in your full address, but having your city and state can be helpful if you are applying to a local neighborhood opportunity. For a more competitive or business-related opportunity, you can include a link to your LinkedIn profile, if you have one.
Summary or Objective Statement
Sometimes a resume may become separated from the pile of similar applicants. To ensure that the reader knows your target or goal in submitting a resume, include a statement of purpose. For example: “High school junior targeting a full-time summer job as a lifeguard. Able to start as of June 1 and available to work full time until Aug. 15. Can work part time during the school year.”
For many teenagers, your education is often your most significant accomplishment and qualification so far. List your school, your grade level and include additional information such as relevant classes. For example, you can list having an A in biology if you’re applying to a biology program or your three years playing lacrosse if you are applying for a coaching job in your town’s parks and recreation department. If you have a 3.0 GPA or above, you can include that too. You can also include any certifications or other training that is important for the role, such as CPR or a lifeguard certification.
Experience – whether it’s paid, unpaid, part-time, full-time or on a volunteer basis – can do a lot to add to your credentials. Include any experience that shows you have done similar work, but also include any experience that shows you are reliable, trustworthy, hardworking or interested in the type of business or industry. To an employer, a candidate who has been hired or managed by someone else seems “less risky” than one who has never held responsibilities outside of the home or school. Some examples could be volunteering each week at the church nursery, watching your neighbor’s cats every time they go out of town or helping the drama teacher to set up and clean up after every performance at the high school.
Add Other Relevant Content
Some additional sections you can include are: skills, technology tools, awards/achievements, sports, clubs, hobbies and interests. The key here is to limit these to only things that will add value to your credentials. No need to include that you love playing Minecraft if you are not applying to a video game camp as a group leader, for example.
Review Your Work
Proof and edit online, print it out and proof it again. Then, ask a couple of other people – adults or people who have a vested interest in your resume representing you well – to review it too. You would much rather catch an error with a trusted contact than to miss out on an opportunity because of an autocorrect mistake.
When built correctly from the start, your resume can continue to evolve without much effort as you add more to your qualifications. See a sample teen resume below.
Sample Teen Resume
955.555.5555 | [email protected] | Danville, CA | linkedin.com/in/robinstudent
High school junior targeting a full-time summer job as a lifeguard. Able to start as of June 1 and available to work full time until Aug. 15. Can work part time during the school year.
- Washington High School, Class of 2022
- GPA: 3.4
- CPR and Lifeguard certification.
- Swim team co-captain.
- Volunteer at Unity Church as a summer camp counselor.
- Babysitter for neighbor’s toddlers.
- Can help others learn swimming techniques.
- Helpful and enthusiastic.
- Punctual and follows instructions.
- Girl Scouts.
- Community garden volunteer.