An Introduction to Resume Building for Students Entering High School

Though it may seem early to be thinking about finding a career, the fact of the matter is starting to build a resume as early as middle school will only better position students for success in the future. More and more, middle school curriculums are integrating lessons in professional development, with some districts offering resume workshops as early as 7th grade! The City of Boston even offers a cool “Teen Resume Guide” with great tips, examples, and even a bank of action verbs perfect for experience descriptions. From helping to acquire their first summer job to teaching them the art of professional writing, an introduction to resume building provides students with an applicable and timeless skill.

Here, we will work through the layout of a typical resume and learn how to develop professional language to describe work experiences.

Layout:

In most cases, particularly for younger individuals, a resume will be confined to a single, concise page that best summarizes topics such as education, work experience, and applicable skills.

With middle school and early high school students in mind, here is a step by step outline of how to format a resume.

  1. Header – Every header should include four basic components: name, address, phone number and email address. Check out a few examples!
  2. Education – Listing the most recent educational institution attended comes directly after the heading, and should also be fairly brief. Important aspects to consider including are: GPA, awards and honors, and relevant coursework.
  3. Work Experience – Here is where you can help your student get descriptive. It’s a chance to really elaborate on the skills they are bringing to the table professionally. For younger students who may not have much or any “formal” experience, get creative! Consider volunteer work, class projects, and even odd jobs students have performed for neighbors like babysitting and mowing lawns. There are some great resources for creating a resume with limited work experience.
  4. Miscellaneous – Although all a resume really needs are the previous three sections (particularly for younger students), the great thing about a resume is that you get to tell your student’s professional story. There are a variety of other options for resume sections! Are they proficient at Microsoft Office? Do they sing in a local choir? Are they the starting point guard for a basketball team? All of these things – and more – have a place on an early stage resume, especially when there’s not more direct work experience yet to showcase.

Developing Professional Language:

Once you have a grasp of what belongs on a first resume and the order in which it should appear, it’s time to focus on the actual content. Even though younger students lack professional experiences, by focusing on applicable skills and using advanced language, their resumes can still stand out.

For example, take an experience like babysitting. At first, it may not scream “professional” but after carefully choosing how you describe your babysitting experience, it can be a powerful way to demonstrate important skills like responsibility, punctuality and time management.

Consider the resume bullet point “Made sure children ate dinner each evening” and play with the language to turn it into “Prepared meals and snacks for children, paying extra attention to the nutritional values to ensure a balanced and healthy diet”. See how much more powerful it is?

One great way to teach students resume writing skills is to treat it like a sort of “writer’s workshop” and weave it into daily lesson plans. One educator suggests starting by having your students write resumes for celebrities and public figures and interviewing their classmates to mine information that could potentially be included. Next, it is crucial to foster a sense of a collaborative creative environment by using a peer review system to have students discuss the specific experiences and language they want to use. This way, the activity becomes like an interactive class project.

Final Thoughts:

Setting students up for college and career readiness starts earlier than most people realize. It is becoming common practice for proficient and educated school administrators to integrate professional development into district curriculum. A great way for students to get a jumpstart on the process is to create their first resume, and continually track their professional progress as they begin to accumulate relevant experiences. This way, they will have an organized record ready for them when they begin applying for jobs, scholarships, and college admittance.

Sam Frenzel is a writer for Teach.com based in Upstate New York. He covers topics including education policy, teacher welfare, and technology in the classroom. He has also worked as a Career Mentor at The State University of New York at Geneseo.

 

 

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