Guide to Resume Writing for Teenagers, Samples, Tips & Advice
As a teenager, preparing your first resume can be a scary challenge, but it’s actually fairly simple to do once you learn the basics of its purpose, required information, and format. In today’s competitive job market, it is important to have a resume which can speak to potential employers for you, and help put you on the path to acquiring a job. Your resume is your first point of contact with potential employers, so it must not only speak well of your accomplishments and qualifications, it must also stand out in order to set you apart from the crowd with hiring committees. Though resumes in general are fairly standard, there are ways to ensure your resume shines among a sea of bland offerings. Your resume isn’t meant to land you a job or to tell your life story. It’s a tool to get an employer interested in you and to get an interview. With that in mind, read on for the best tips, advice and samples on resume writing for students and teens.
What Goes in a Resume?
If you look at sample resumes, you’ll find a lot of variation in both the content and layout. Don’t feel that you have to exactly duplicate any particular resume outline; each one is different, and employers know to look for the key information they want and ignore idiosyncrasies. That said, don’t print your resume on colored paper or try to make it stand out visually; a resume should present just the facts in a clean, simple way.
The most important things to include on your resume are:
- Your full name and contact information (both phone and email)
- Your past/current education
- Previous (relevant) work experience, if any
- Skills and characteristics that will make you a great employee
Of course, there are other things you can add to flesh out a resume, such as hobbies, volunteer experience, and personal interests that give prospective employers an idea of who you are and why you’re a good candidate – but the focus, and the first few sections of the resume, is always your vital stats, education, and work experience.
What is a Cover Letter?
Cover letters are often considered optional today, and many employers don’t even take the time to read them. But in some cases, a well-written cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer, highlight your personal strengths, and explain why you want the job for which you’re applying.
It’s a good idea to look up sample resumes and cover letters online to get a feel for how they’re written and give you a head start.
What If I’ve Never Had a Job?
The first place most employers look is the job section of your resume, but don’t be discouraged if you lack work experience. There are other things you can include to demonstrate that you’re good employee material:
- Volunteering experience
- Academic awards
- Sports achievements
- Extracurricular activities that display leadership and teamwork skills
Think of your resume like an ad that shows off your best attributes, and why a prospective boss should want to hire you. What can you say about yourself in concrete terms that will convince a stranger to call you for an interview? Stick to real life examples and things you’ve done in the past, make your resume simple and straightforward, and you’ll be getting calls from prospective employers in no time.
Need More Help with Resumes for Your First Job?
Now that we know the basics components of a great resume, we can begin the process of writing it. Be aware, writing a great resume takes a lot of time, patience and editing. It’s like an English paper, it’s difficult to get it right the first time. With great attention to detail however, we can pick out simple mistakes before it gets into the hands of the employer. With this in mind, lets begin with general, but useful tips to consider when you are writing.
Things to Keep in Mind When Writing
- Simplicity is a virtue. Too many sample resumes are formatted with complicated text boxes, charts and even small spreadsheets. Many sample resumes will also instruct job seekers to break up their resumes into sections, unconnected to other sections. The truth is this: employers do not want to have to search through a resume for simple pertinent data. They also do not want to be forced to wade through extraneous information that does not apply to the job for which they are hiring. Employers want to be able to glance at your resume and immediately have all of your important information in a plain, easy to navigate format. In order to offer this to employers, keep your resume as simple and straightforward as possible.
- Format, format and format. The most widely accepted way to do this is to follow the chronological resume style, in which education, previous employment and experience are listed in chronological order from newest to oldest. A small section at the top of the resume can be reserved for an objective and key qualifications, while the rest should follow the chronological format with clear and concise data. Your information should be edited down to include only the most pertinent data, and extraneous information should be excluded.
- Avoid being so lengthy. Potential employers are wading through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for each available position in their companies. Like any other task, most employers want to get through with reading resumes as quickly and efficiently as possible. When prospective employees provide resumes more than two pages in length, this is simply not possible, and employers get bogged down trying to read lengthy resumes. In order to save time, many employers simply do not read resumes longer than two pages, but automatically reject them, denying the applicant any hope of landing a job. Just as with the simplicity issue, many sample resumes will have applicants writing short stories instead of resumes, and will lead applicants to disaster with four and five page offerings. If you want your resume to actually get you and interview, this is not the way to go.
- There is value in being concise. It is crucially important to keep your resume as short as possible, not only as a courtesy to potential employers, but also to make it easy for those potential employers to get the most out of your resume. Employers generally have no problem reading the entirety of a two page resume, which means that all of the information you can get onto those two pages will be able to wow a hiring committee. Keeping a resume short is not impossible, as many people likely believe; the key is to strictly follow a formatting style and learn to be brief. For example, your education should simply be listed, not explained; there is no need to list what you learned while earning your degrees, only that the degrees were earned. Employment experience and accomplishments can be broken down into one or two line bullet points; put the most pertinent and impressive data as the first one or two points. Finally, there is no need to tell everything about yourself, your experience, or your qualifications – that is what interviews are for.
- Be honest, you’d want the same. One of the most prevalent issues employers see on a daily basis is dishonesty on resumes. Many job seekers mistakenly believe that white lies and exaggerations on their resumes will be overlooked, and that stretching the truth will help them land a better job. The truth is, employers are not stupid, and the vast majority do a great deal of homework on every potential employee they are bringing into their business. Any exaggeration or lie, no matter how big or small, will be caught nine times out of ten; taking the chance is simply not worth the risk. So it’s important to be truthful in all aspects of your resume, no matter how insignificant you might think it is.
Wait, Why is a Resume Important Again?
Having a general resume is a necessity for all job seekers, and should be your first option when applying for jobs. However, in some situations it is a better idea to target your resume to a specific job or company. This could be true if you are applying for more than one position within a company, or if a position for which you are applying requires a set of very specific skills. Either way, targeting your resume is a great way to make potential employers feel as though you have gone out of your way to set yourself, and your resume, apart from the crowd of general resumes. If you take these tips and ideas and really begin to understand them, then they will become essentials for your job searching process.
Lastly, the important thing to remember in the job resume and interview is to simply be yourself. Employers are not looking for cookie cutter employees for their companies; they want diverse and interesting people who can bring their own personalities and talents to the job. Find a way to insert some of your own personality into your resume while following our guide. Hopefully, those combined will lead you forward into the job of your dreams.