A resume is a professional document that highlights your work experience, skills, and accomplishments. Resumes are most commonly used by people applying for jobs, but adults aren’t the only ones who need resumes. Teenagers need a resume to apply for part-time jobs and internships, and for some college applications.
If you’re a teen looking for your first job, a resume quickly lets a manager know why it would be a good choice to hire you. It highlights the skills you have that are relevant to the job and provides insight into the experiences that have prepared you to be a dependable, diligent worker. If you’re applying to college or looking to land a scholarship, a resume shows the decision makers how you stand out amidst the hundreds of other applicants you’re competing against.
What to focus on
A teenager resume should:
Communicate relevant skills
These should be tailored to the position for which you’re applying. So, if you’re hoping to land a hostess job at your neighborhood diner, you will want to showcase that you work well under pressure and have strong interpersonal skills. If you’re applying for an IT scholarship, you should detail your knowledge of various computer applications.
Spotlight related experience
As a teenager, you might think you don’t have any experience. But, not so fast. You just need to get a little more creative. Experience can include volunteer work, part-time jobs, “unofficial” jobs like babysitting, mowing lawns, or even pitching in to help out an elderly neighbor (you get the idea!).
Highlight academic and extracurricular accomplishments
Since you don’t have a ton of professional experience, you want to show that you’re well-rounded in other ways, like excelling in school or being involved in clubs and activities.
When you’re applying for a job or other position as a teen, you’re asking someone to take a chance on you. After all, you haven’t had much of an opportunity to prove yourself in the workforce. So above all else, the most important purpose of a teenager resume is to convince the reader that you’re a strong choice–that you’ll work hard, be ready to learn, and do whatever else is necessary to fulfill the requirements of the role.
Why do you need a resume?
To get a job
Getting a job as a teenager is about more than just money. It’s about the freedom and additional independence that comes with earning your own paycheck. Whether you’re looking for a part-time gig after school or you’re ready to jump into the workforce full time, a resume can help you land that coveted first job.
To gain experience
Every job is a stepping stone, no matter how unrelated to your future career it might seem. If you dream about becoming a detective, your weekend job scooping ice cream will help you learn how to deal with many different types of people and the importance of working quickly. You’d be surprised how much our first few jobs shape our approach to work. A resume will help you gain that valuable real-world experience you’ll need later on.
For an early start
The resume is the de facto document for securing jobs and other professional opportunities. It’s been that way for decades and doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. Creating a resume as a teenager is a great way to familiarize yourself with this important document that you’ll use for many years to come.
When should you use this type of resume?
Use a teenager resume when:
- Applying for a job
- Applying to college
- Seeking a scholarship
- Looking for an internship
Common challenges and how to overcome them
Not having any job experience
Not having experience at a formal job doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience whatsoever. You just need to get a bit more creative to find it.
Have you worked together with your peers on a project, like in a school club? Then you’ve developed skills like collaboration and teamwork. Have you taught or cared for younger kids, like as a camp counselor or teacher’s helper? Then you’ve developed leadership and organizational abilities.
Instead of focusing on the job experience you lack, draw from the academic and real-world experience you do have to find skills hiring managers are looking for.
Not knowing where to look for a job
When you’re looking for your very first job, it can be hard to know where to start. How do you know who’s hiring, and what kind of employer would be willing to hire a teenager? In truth, there are more jobs open to teenagers than you might realize. Most employers care more about whether they can depend on you to show up and do a good job than how old you are.
As a young job seeker, it’s a good idea to pick a job you’re excited about. So, start by making a list of the places you think would be fun to work. Consider places where your friends and fellow students have gotten jobs and places that are open during the hours you’re available, like at night and on weekends.
Retail, customer service, and hospitality are all good industries for first-time job seekers.
Chronological resume format and key components
A simple resume format is a great choice for teenagers creating a resume. It’s straightforward, text-based, and limited to a single page, which is ideal when you don’t have a long list of previous jobs to fit in.
A teenager’s resume should include these key components:
- Contact information
At the top of your resume, list your name, phone number and email address. Be sure you’re using an email address that looks professional, like firstname.lastname@example.org rather than something personal or goofy like email@example.com.
An objective is a short statement that gives the hiring manager pertinent details about you and your job search at a glance. It should be clear and brief. Here’s an example: “Motivated, energetic and reliable student seeking a summer job in the hospitality industry.”
Skills fall into two categories: hard and soft skills. Hard skills are technical and related to specific knowledge, like mathematics or CSS coding. Soft skills are more intangible and related to the way you work, like leadership or communication. Since you haven’t had a long time in the workforce to develop technical skills, it will probably be easier to come up with soft skills to list on your teenager resume that a hiring manager would value. Here are a few examples:
– Work ethic
- Work experience
If you’ve had jobs in the past, list them here. Remember, informal jobs like helping out at the family business or doing work around a neighbor’s house count, too. Include the name of the job, the company (if you were formally employed there) and the dates you worked. Then, underneath, use action verbs to describe your contributions.
Here’s an example of how that might look:
Babysitter – Austin, Texas. May – September 2021
– Provided attentive care to children ranging in age from 2 to 7
– Prepared nutritious meals and adhered to a mealtime schedule
– Planned and supervised engaging, age-appropriate activities
– Established strong relationships and maintained ongoing communication with parents
If you have multiple positions, list them in reverse-chronological order (the most recent position at the top, and working backward from there).
Designate a section for things that aren’t work-related, but that show important work-related traits like character and responsibility.
This might include:
– Clubs and organizations (school-based clubs, scouts, youth groups, etc.)
– Team and individual sports
– Volunteer activities (include the total number of hours if it’s impressive)
– Anything that demonstrates commitment, like playing an instrument or horseback riding
When applying for part-time jobs, your resume may be in a pile alongside adults. So, don’t assume a hiring manager will know that you’re a high-school student. Let them know by calling it out in your education section, like this:
Name of high school
Expected graduation date
GPA if above 3.0
Class rank if impressive
Any dual-enrollment or college-level coursework
- Awards and honors
Use this optional section to spotlight any noteworthy accolades, like being elected as a class officer, having a poem published in a student publication, or receiving a district- or state-level recognition.