You’re about to draft a resume for a summer job, part-time position, or internship you can hold while you’re still in high school. Congratulations, you rock! Also—welcome to the working world. There’s nothing more satisfying than collecting a paycheck that you’ve earned with your own unique smarts. But to rack up interviews, you’ll need to impress your potential employers by finding a way to set yourself apart from the dozens of other teenagers (and possibly, some adults) who will be competing for the same handful of open positions. If you’re a teen and you’re new to the working world, keep the following “resume for teens” tips in mind when you sit down to write your resume.
1. Resume for Teens: Start with a Header
You need to think of your resume as a marketing document, one that calls attention to the fact that you’re the best person for the job. As you learn how to write a resume, you’ll learn that the first component of any resume is a header. In the header, you include your name, contact information, and any URLs that you think might be of interest to a potential employer—for instance, your LinkedIn URL (if you have one), or a URL that takes a reader to your online portfolio or personal (but industry-related) website.
2. Resume for Teens: Add a Short Summary
Next, you’ll create a short paragraph (three to four sentences, tops) that summarizes your skills and proudest achievements to date. Simply state what you’d like to do for the employer-at-hand, list a reason or two as to why/how you’ll be great at the job, and explain why you’re excited about working for them. Check out this article for the full scoop on how to write a resume summary.
Think of your resume as a marketing document, one that calls attention to the fact that you’re the best person for the job.
3. Resume for Teens: Think about the Qualities an Employer Wants
Waiting tables is a pretty common teen job. Waiting tables is also difficult and demanding work. The job requires careful attention to detail, strong listening skills, great customer service skills, and the ability to sell items by making recommendations and pitching specials.If you intend to show up on time and just do your job, that’s fine. But let your employers know that you plan to do more than the minimum, and keep that in mind when mentioning accomplishments on your resume.
4. Resume for Teens: Let Them Know You Can be Counted On
Many employers stereotype teenagers when it comes to skills and work ethic, regardless of how many teenagers they’ve ever actually employed. The existing stereotype? Teenagers are lazy and careless on the job. Prove that stereotype wrong by emphasizing a track record of timeliness and traits that suggest reliability and maturity, such as working well with superiors, and working well in a team environment. Make it clear that you’ll take their business as seriously as they do.Consider including (along with your resume) one or two prepared letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, or community leaders that speak about your outstanding qualities and skills. If you’re unable to secure letters, ask your references (and be sure you get their permission) if you can include their contact information in a recommendations list—you can provide this list to the employer if you advance to an interview.
5. Resume for Teens: Emphasize Your Grades and Study Skills
Since you’re a teen and you likely don’t have a lot of work experience, you really need to make your grades and academic achievements stand out! Replace the standard Education heading/section of a resume with the more sales-worthy Academic Achievements heading/section. If you’re earning straight A’s and working hard on your extracurricular activities, this is the place to mention it.Again, employers want reassurance that you know how to buckle down, make commitments, follow through, and do an awesome job. High grades can provide that impression, considering that employers who hire teenagers aren’t expecting much in the previous work experience department.
6. Resume for Teens: Leverage a Top Skills Heading/Section
Use a Top Skills resume heading/section to highlight any skills that might be at all meaningful to your employer. Beyond your basic babysitting and lawn mowing gig skills, include your proficiency with software like Microsoft Office, high-powered social media profiles (that don’t contain anything embarrassing), any language skills, your athletic accomplishments, and any other extracurricular achievements.
At your age, a great candidate is a candidate with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, a sense of judgment, and a strong work ethic.
7. Resume for Teens: Make Your Writing Sing
Easier said than done, for most people. Make sure your phrases are smooth, use action verbs to show that you’re a go-getter, and chose words that are elevated and precise, not slangy. Before you begin submitting resumes, show it to people who know how to give honest editorial advice and constructive criticism—people like your parents or a favorite teacher (ideally, your grammar star English teacher—someone older, more experienced candidates won’t have access to!).
8. Resume for Teens: Proofread!
Typos are an absolute employer buzzkill. Fantastic candidates of all ages have been rejected outright because their amazing resumes included one nasty spelling mistake they should have picked up on. Your resume should contain absolutely no typos, so get it proofread before applying for any jobs. You should take a shot at doing this, but also put that grammar nerd best friend to work (or again, your grammar star English teacher).
Final Word: Aim for Precision, Clarity, and Positivity
At your age, a great candidate is a candidate with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, a sense of judgment, and a strong work ethic. A tip-top resume and cover letter can showcase all of your skills, and prove that you’re the one for the job.