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How to Make a Resume for First Job (High School Students)

Check out how to make a resume for first jobs – high school students can use these tips to get their foot in the door.

Is your teenager staring at a blank teen resume template, wondering how on earth to fill it in with the little experience they have?

teen boy looking at computer screen creating resume, text overlay "how teens can create a resume for first job"

Creating a resume for first jobs as a high school student can feel like quite the daunting task.

But it’s not impossible – not in the least.

These tips and tricks are going to help your teen with the sometimes-frustrating task of creating the resume that will land them their first (or next) job.

High School Resume Tips for First Job

Before you check out these tips for how to make a resume for first job – high school students, be sure to download one of these free teen resume templates to use.

That’ll really help!

Hint: I devote an entire week (week #2) to guiding your teen through creating their resume in the Teen Job Lab. You’ll definitely want to check that out!

pink, orange, bright box, text overlay "get the teen job lab - list of online/offline teen job search hotspots, teach your teen how to job search, etc."

1. Make the Contact Area Stand Out

Your teen can already get a leg up on a new job by making a few tweaks to the contact area – the first part of filling out any resume.

Have them consider creating a new email address just for job searching, and name that email something very professional. For example, just their first name and last name (like [email protected]).

They can also create a new LinkedIn account (minimum age is 13). This will not only help them make some connections for the actual job search, but it’ll be another link they can add to this section that shows them off in a professional manner.  

2. Create a QR Code to an ePortfolio

Does your teen REALLY want to stand out?

Have them create a Google Sites ePortfolio with a synopsis of various projects discussed below, and photos representing accomplishments/completion of work.

Then, have them create a QR code, and add that code to their resume. The QR code is something an employer can scan to automatically get sent to the student’s portfolio page.

Psst: here’s more information about QR codes.

3. Create a Baseline Summary Area…last

Your high school student will want to tweak and change the summary area for each job/category of job they’re going to apply to.

But they should still put a good bit of thought into their “baseline” summary. That’s because they can then build off of what they already have, and just tweak it as needed for each new job opportunity they apply to (here's how to get a job as a teenager).

Two things:

  • Create the Summary Area Last: Have them create this section LAST. After they’ve teased out all the other points, accomplishments, projects, etc. throughout their resume. It’ll be easier that way.
  • Use Different Colored Highlighters: When it’s time for them to create this section, have them print out a rough draft of their resume. Then they can take a highlighter and highlight all of the adjectives they’ve used in one color, the verbs used in another highlighter color, and skills in a third highlighter color.

Once they’ve highlighted some great words, they can use them when writing and rewriting their summary statement.

4. Collect Referrals While Collecting Specific Information

Your teenager will need referrals they can count on to send potential job hiring managers to. They’ll also need to research and figure out specific information, like month/date they did certain activities (volunteering, sports, etc.).

While they’re making phone calls, reaching out by email to clarify, etc. to get this information, have them ask for referrals at the same time.

For example, let’s say your teenager was on a debate team that won some of certificate. But they can’t remember exactly when it was, or the certificate name.

Have them email the teacher in charge of the team for the information they need – the dates, and the certification name – and at the same time, have them ask that teacher to be a referral for future job applications. Collect their full name, job title, and contact information, if they say yes.

Ready to dive into probably the #1 problem teens will have when filling out their resume? Let’s figure out a plan for how to deal with little to no experience, on a resume.

How Does a High School Student Make a Resume with No Experience?

One of the keys to making a resume for a high school student that has “no experience” is to fill in the space…but without adding just fluff.

Here’s some help with that.

1. Learn How to Broaden the “Experience” Part of the Resume

All resumes must highlight a person’s experience. But if you’re a teen filling a resume out, with little to no experience? Then they’ll need broaden their definition of “experience”.

Teens might have:

  • Volunteer Experience
  • Leadership Experience
  • Project-Based Learning Experience
  • Internship Experience
  • Teamwork Experience

2. Nix the Experience Section Altogether

Here’s a secret: who says you have to have an Experience section at all…especially for entry-level, teen jobs?

Yes, teenagers still need to convey their skills and what they’ve done. But they could just call the “Experience” section something different, altogether.

They could have a Community Involvement section, and highlight volunteer opportunities they’ve completed (even at home volunteer opportunities).

They could call this “Accomplishments”, and describe academic projects, community projects, sports accomplishments, and any other accomplishments from their lives.

3. Got Nothing? Use Classwork in the Experience Section

Perhaps your teen has travelled through the wormhole of their last five or so years…only to come up empty on experience.

Okay – have them tease out classes and classwork that shows experience that at least vaguely has something to do with a job position.

For example:

  • Courses that support the type of job you’re going after (for example, business courses, computer courses, writing proficiency courses, communication courses, vocational/career tech courses, language courses, etc.)
  • Specific projects completed for a class
  • Thesis or Senior Project work (name of your project/thesis)
  • Academic competitions (STEM competitions, debate team competitions, etc.)
  • Academic awards (honor roll, National Honor Society, department awards, scholarships for various programs, etc.)

4. Include What They’re Enrolled in

Nothing screams “hire me” better than a young person who shows they’re willing to learn, and have taken the initiative to do so.

If your teen has no experience, then have them start a course on the side that has to do with the type of job they want to get.

For example, taking an excel course,

They can find pretty cheap (and sometimes free) opportunities in places like:

Then, be sure that they list the class/course they’re enrolled in, on the resume. Also put expected completion date, and any expected certificates.

High School Resume Skills Examples

A final section I want to talk about are a teen’s skills.

What are some good examples of high school resume skills?

Your teen can get help finding their own skills by:

Your teenager can use the list they created from these examples, and scatter them throughout their resume – in the summary area, in bullet points, in a Skills Summary section, etc.

Here’s more information in these career resources for high school students.

Bonus Tip: How to Fill in Too Much White Space

Has your teenager filled in their resume and it’s, well, got a lot of white space left?

Not to worry.

They can consider adding one of these as its own section:

  • Skills: language skills | computer/technical skills | photography skills | typing speed | social media skills | etc.
  • Extracurricular Activities: sports, academic clubs, community clubs,  neighborhood activities, church activities, etc.
  • Hobbies: cooking, creative writing, quilting, reading, dance, horseback riding, yoga, etc.
  • Certifications: CPR certification, technical certifications, Lifeguard Certification, etc. 

I hope I’ve shown you some seriously good tips for how to make a resume for first job high school students. The biggest thing to let your students and teens know is that they can always edit a resume…but they can’t edit a blank screen. SO, just help them to do the best that they can, identify gaps in their resume that they can work on plugging in the next few years, and keep going. Resumes are a living, breathing document that will change and grow as they do!

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.

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