Even for someone with experience, building a résumé can be intimidating. Trying to build one before you’ve even had a job at all can seem downright impossible. Nonetheless, résumé writing is a very important skill to begin working on, and the sooner you start, the better it will be later on. If you’ve ever wanted to build your résumé but don’t know where to start, I have some tips to share with you today.
For those of you just starting out, you may be concerned that you don’t have enough experience to even call for a full resume. Fear not: at the high-school level, your résumé obviously won’t be as comprehensive as someone with ten years experience, and at this point, employers are not expecting that. However, there are ways in which you can pad your resume with other important info about yourself that demonstrates your experience or your achievements.
Before we get there, let’s address some of the must-haves when it comes to resumes:
In your later years, work experience will take center stage, but at this point, your education will be the most important aspect of your résumé. When giving your education, you’ll want to include the high school you attend (in this case, San Dieguito Academy), name of the city and state, the years you attended including your expected graduation date, and your GPA.As far as this section goes, that’s all you really need. However, if you want to add any specific subjects that interest or classes you’ve taken (if they apply to the job), you’re welcome to include those as well.
In the case that you’ve attended multiple high schools, you’ll want to include your previous high school info as well.
Work Experience (if you have it)
If you are over the age of 16, you might have already taken the opportunity to work at a local job to either build experience or build your bank account. In any case, you can and should include this information if you have it. You’ll want to list the company or place of employment, your job title, the job’s location, the length of employment (months and years), and a few bullets of information about your job duties and responsibilities.
Using bullets is important for one reason: employers take only about a minute in total to read your résumé. It seems like such little time to spend reading something that you’ve worked possibly hours on, but considering how many applications they receive, they are looking to get through them as quickly as possible. Therefore, you’ll want to have all of your information clear and separated by bullet points and not paragraphs. Not only is it easier on the eyes, but it allows for employers to jump to any bit of info they want to with ease. When it comes to descriptions, the more concise, the better.
No work experience? No problem. Here are a few other things you can include in their place. Those who have work experience can use these sections to strengthen their résumé overall as well:
Extracirricular or Volunteer Experience
Chances are if you don’t have any work experience, you might still have a volunteer experience or two to include in this section. Volunteer work can be especially important to your résumé because it demonstrates that you have done something for more than just financial gain. It shows you are devoted to a cause or to an activity and serve to gain something more from it than money. This goes for extracurricular activities like sports and clubs as well, which show commitment to other things outside of schoolwork.
Awards, Recognition, or Certificates
Whether you’ve won a regional debate or won first prize at the Four-H Club, listing your awards and recognition is like putting the cherry on top of your sundae: it’s a nice little piece of garnish to add that extra flair to your résumé. While you might second guess whether these honors even relate to the job you’re applying for, still include them. They can be a great showcase of both your skills as well as your determination in multiple areas. If you have CPR, First Aid, or Lifeguard training, you can include that in this section as well.
If you have any specific skills that are applicable to the position you are applying for, you can include a list of these as well. Such skills you could highlight include:
- Retail and sales experience
- Customer service skills
- Interpersonal or communication skills
- Writing, editing, or typing
- Calculation skills
- Organizational skills
- Multitasking skills
- Leadership and management
You can be creative with how you present yourself. If there’s a better way you can describe an experience or skill that will strengthen you as a job candidate, go for it!
However, when it comes to formatting, just be sure that you can fit all the information about yourself into one page MAXIMUM. Like I said, employers are reading your entire resume for no more than a minute or two, so you don’t want a three-page summary of every single thing you’ve done since Kindergarten. Pick the things that are most important at showcasing who you are and be as concise as possible when you describe them.
The last and most important tip for building your résumé is this: Start doing stuff.
Sounds simple, but this really is the best way to build your résumé. Even if you’re not old enough yet to work, go join some clubs or volunteer your time at the library, at church, or at a local organization. These types of activities will ensure you have a strong foundation by the time you are ready for that first job.
Even if you think you’re still not ready to apply, just go for it. Jobs aren’t as scary as they seem…believe me, I’ve had all sorts of different jobs, from summer camp counselor to retail associate to trivia host, all the way to becoming your Writing Lab Teacher. I was able to get where I am now by pushing myself out of my comfort zone, pursuing new opportunities and, most importantly working hard to learn and grow all the time. Anyone can do it; it’s all a matter of when you start.
If you have any other questions about your résumés, please let me know if I missed anything.
Read. Write. Grow.