How to Write a High School Student Resume with No Work Experience
Writing your resume for the first time can be a daunting experience – especially if you’ve never held a job before. But if you’re trying to get your first job or internship, where do you start? Resist the urge to make something up or spin your babysitting experience into a buzzy description of your experience as a “small animal behaviorist and personal chef.” You can be honest about your background and still present yourself as an ideal candidate.
Although many entry-level jobs will ask you to complete an application, having a resume available will give you something to offer them proactively, either in person or online. Here are some of the main sections of a resume and how to complete them.
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All resumes should have your name and contact information up at the top. Make sure that any email addresses look professional (ahem, [email protected] is not professional). Likewise for any phone numbers – if you have your own cell phone, make sure that your voicemail is set-up and there’s a simple outgoing message (“Hey, you’ve reached X. Please leave a message.”). Also list your home address, so employers know from where you will be commuting to the job.
If you are currently attending school, employers expect that your top priority will be your education, so make sure to put it at the top. You will want to list your school and your expected graduation date. For example:
“George Washington High School, Newark, NJ. Anticipated graduation date: June 2022”
Skills & Competencies
Since you don’t have a lot of experience to rely on, lead with any skills or qualities that will make you a good employee. If you are stuck, ask your friends and family members about how they would describe you and then tweak it a little. Your best friend may think you’re “laid-back,” but in resume terminology, that would be better phrased as “patient.” If your mom thinks you’re hilarious, you can refer to yourself as “outgoing and customer service-focused.”
Most entry-level jobs won’t require you to have a lot of hard or soft skills, but it never hurts to reference some technical competencies, such as “Proficient in Mac OS and Windows.” Unless you are applying for an internship that requires it, do not list that you are skilled on any social media platforms – most bosses will see this as a red flag that you are going to spend your entire time Snapchatting when they need you at the register.
Okay, here’s the hard part – how do you list your experience or accomplishments when you don’t have any that relate to paying work? Before you skip this section entirely, really think about what you have done that could show a prospective boss that you would be a good employee. Have you done any babysitting, pet-sitting, car-washing, lawn-mowing at home or around the neighborhood? Do you participate in any after-school clubs or sports? As a student and entry-level employee, all of this counts. It demonstrates a level of responsibility, which will make your future boss feel more confident that they won’t have to explain some basic concepts to you, like showing up on time or calling if you are sick and can’t show up.
As long as your resume is still under one-page, you should feel free to add three people that a potential boss can contact to ask about you. These should not be family members but could be neighbors, family friends, or teachers. If you play sports, maybe ask your coach. Generally, you want someone who can speak to the fact that you are a responsible person. List the reference’s full name, phone number, email, and their relationship to you.
Before you list anyone as a reference available upon request, make sure to get their permission. Let them know what types of jobs you are looking for as well, so they can anticipate the questions they may get – and they may give you a lead on someplace that is hiring. It’s always a nice gesture, now and in the future, to let your references know when you are interviewing for a position and they may get a call or email. Also, let them know when you get the job and thank them for speaking to the hiring manager on your behalf.
A word about fonts
You’ve probably heard this before, but a resume is not a place to use creative fonts. The best fonts will be ones that are popular and easily skimmable. You can use a bigger font for headings, but most of your resume should be in a 10- to 12-point font and fit neatly onto one page.
Good luck writing your first resume. It can be difficult to get started, but it can act as a blueprint for future resumes as you get your first job and start racking up professional experience.