Tips For Writing A Resume While Still In High School

Even without work experience, a high schooler can write a professional-looking resume that is sure to attract a potential employer's eye.

Writing a first resume is difficult, especially if you have little to no work experience and only vague ideas of where to begin. It is very possible, however, to create a distinctive and compelling resume for yourself, no matter how much material you have to work with.

Before beginning, make jot-notes of your qualifications, experience, hobbies and community work. Write down everything you can recall of the past four or so years, even if it seems insignificant, from participation in the Biology Club to filling in for your best friend on his newspaper route. If you have First Aid qualifications, experience being in cadets, have ever won a public speaking award or performed in a school function, these are all important points that can help assure potential employers that you are reliable and community-oriented. Since you have little or no actual work experience, your character will be judged on extracurricular activities, hobbies and academic achievements.

Make a list of positive attributes that describe you. Use these keywords in your cover letter or on your resume itself, and keep them in your memory for possible interviews. Many interviewers will also ask about the things you consider your flaws, so you may also want to think about these for the interview, but do not put them on your resume.

Once you have decided what information to include, group them into sections. First Aid is a qualification, whereas a paper route could either be considered work experience or general relevant experience. Awards and extracurricular activities can be placed with qualifications or kept separate. Education (your school and grade) should have a small section to itself, as well as attributes and if you choose to include them, references. (You also have the option of noting "references available upon request" or simply omitting them unless asked, so that your references may be given prior warning about being called.) A letter of reference should only be submitted if the employer asks specifically for one.

There are many free templates available for your word processor and for download over the Internet to organize your resume. Choose one you like or write it yourself, following this or a similar format:

Place your full contact information at the top, including phone number, address, name and e-mail. You may want to bold or italicize some of this information, but keep the font size close to what will be used in the body of your resume. Choose a font that is clear and easy to read, without colors or scripts.

Create a header for your first section, which can be Education, Work Experience or simply a line about you. Space, bold, italicize or underline it accordingly to separate it from the information the section will be about. (Try not to overuse these options.) Remember to indent and add dates and locations of previous jobs and locations.

Once you have written the first section, the others should follow accordingly, ending with references (if you choose to add them). Ensure paragraphing is even and professional-looking with a 10 or 11 pt font - the fewer pages you take up while still maintaining a well-spaced look, the better. If your resume exceeds 2 pages (not including cover letter or an attached reference page), you may need to consider cutting back. The front page should be the one that makes the employer want to hire you, and the second page thoroughly convinces them to do so.

For best results, include a cover letter, tailored (if possible) to the company you want to work for. This letter should include the position you are looking for, relevant qualifications, reasons why you want the job, and a sincere thank-you to them for considering your application. Though you can often take on a conversational tone in a cover letter, be sure not to be too casual. Experience or not, employers are looking for some measure of professionalism from employees, and you will not be considered if you do not sound serious and respectful. Avoid stiffness or obeisance by being up-front, honest and friendly.

Reread your resume and cover letter and check them thoroughly for spelling and grammar. You may wish to have a third party such as a teacher, sibling or parent read as well for typos you and your spell check may have missed. You should also print a single copy of both to ensure the formatting will look correct on paper before beginning to print them in batches. Sign the letter with your name in ink and attach it to the resume with a staple or paper clip, then distribute them to your desired employers and wait for the calls to come in.

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