Teenlife Guide to Writing Resumes


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This guide is a helpful resource to any teen working on a resume. Inside there are tips and examples on proper formatting and styling in your document. It also covers how to create a list of references.

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Teenlife Guide to Writing Resumes

  1. 1. “How to” Guide: Student Resumes & ReferencesWhat High School Students Need to Know to Get Started 1
  2. 2. INTRODUCTIONYour resume is a vital component of an effective job search. It is a personalstatement and advertisement of who you are. You may have more talent,knowledge, and skills than any other applicant for a particular job. However, if youdon’t get an opportunity to communicate those qualities to an employer, you maynever get the chance to demonstrate your abilities. A good resume will not get youa job but it can get you an interview.An effective resume highlights your best achievements, accomplishments, andcontributions at work, at school, and in the community. It also can reflect yourhobbies, interests, and background, making you into a three-dimensional personinstead of a name on a page. A strong resume also must be flawless in terms oftypos or errors—after all, if you can’t get things right on your resume, why wouldanyone expect you to have excellent attention to detail as an employee?WRITING YOUR RESUMEAppearance does create a strong first impression. The following five tips will helpyou to have a “good-looking” resume. 1. For a teen, a resume should be one page on 8 ! x 11” paper. At some point in your career, it may be appropriate to have a longer resume. For teens and most young professionals, though, we want the resume to capture your educational level, experiences, skills, and interests concisely. Employers don’t want to read a long and complicated resume for an entry-level job candidate. 2. Create your resume with a word processor and save the file. Your resume probably will need lots of editing in the short run and repeated revisions in the long run. Be sure to save the file and back it up on a flash drive. This will enable you to make changes and corrections at any time. 3. Dare to be a little different with your font. Almost everyone uses Microsoft Word when writing their resume, and 90 percent of resumes seem to use Word’s default font—Times New Roman—as a result. Dare to be different! Experiment with other fonts. Garamond is one reliable alternative, and there are many others such as Calibri and Helvetica. Just don’t go too wild: some fonts are also very difficult to read. 2
  3. 3. 4. Go with neutral colors and heavier paper when printing out your resume. White, ivory, off-white, cream, and gray are good options. For making a print version of your resume, don’t use regular printer paper. Use heavier paper like 60 pound; 20-pound bond is too flimsy.SECTIONSYour resume will be broken down into a number of separate sections, which willbe used to describe aspects of your life and qualifications. Every teen’s resumeshould include sections on: • Education • Experience • SkillsDepending on your background, you also might include several other possiblesections, such as Interests, Volunteer Experience, and Community Service.HOW TO STARTEvery resume should start with an introduction. When you meet someone for thefirst time, you always tell him or her your name. Your resume is the same. Yourname should be at the top, either centered, left, or right—whichever style suits youbest. Address, telephone numbers and e-mail address are critical. Employers needto know how to reach you should they want to interview you or make you an offer!Make sure your e-mail address is professional enough for job search. An e-mailaddress like “wildboy99” or “justinbieberrocks” doesn’t give the right impression toan employer. An e-mail address that includes your name is often best. Here’s howyour header might look: JANE SMITH Janesmith89@hotmail.com 89 Fifth Avenue Natick, MA 01760 (508) 555-0001Here’s another option:JANE SMITH _____________ 89 Fifth Avenue, Natick, MA 01760 Phone: 508-555-0001 e-mail: Janesmith89@hotmail.com 3
  4. 4. EDUCATIONWhile you are still a student, the Education section is usually listed first. This willensure that those elements will be the first thing an employer sees when looking atyour resume. When writing this section, use the following guidelines: 1. Write your schools in reverse chronological order. If you’ve attended more than one school in the last three years, write the current one first. If you’ve attended one school for longer than that, then one school is plenty to list. 2. Include the degree that you eventually will get as well as when you expect to get it. For teens, you can simply say “High School Diploma” and “June 2012” or whatever your month and year of graduation may be. 3. Include an Honors subsection if applicable. If you have a good grade point average or other forms of recognition such as academic prizes, you’ll want to mention them here. You may need to list your grade point average in a way that reflects your school’s grading system: 4.5/5.0, for example. 4. Include an Activities subsection. Employers will be interested in what you do at school beyond the classroom: sports, clubs, and events say a great deal about your character and interests. Whether it’s the Debate Team or Varsity Soccer, employers can infer something about your personality and skills from what you choose to do. If you have a leadership role in a student organization, all the better.Here’s how the complete section might look:EDUCATIONBrookline High School Brookline, MAHigh School Diploma June 2012Grade Point Average: 3.6/4.0Honors: National Honor SocietyActivities: Orchestra, Student Government Association (Class Vice President),Junior Varsity Soccer (co-captain), Junior Prom Committee 4
  5. 5. EXPERIENCE This is the most vital section of your resume. This is the time not only to list where you worked and what you did, but also to list your accomplishments and achievements! Take time to think about what you want to say—it’s worth doing right. Here are some key points: 1. Include company name (the official name), location (city & state, not street address), job title, and dates of employment. Employers want to know what you have done and how long you spent doing it. Don’t bother listing a job if you only did it for a month or two: that may raise questions about your ability and willingness to keep a job. 2. Jobs should be listed chronologically from present position, then backwards. List your present or most recent position first, then your second most recent and so on. Usually, your most recent job is your most impressive or relevant one. There are exceptions, but this is often the best way to go. 3. Sentences should always begin with an action verb. Avoid starting sentences with weak linking verbs such as “had,” “got,” “did,” etc. Use verbs that convey confidence, such as “handled,” “improved,” “managed,” “designed,” etc. An alternative is to start with a compelling adverb: “Effectively handled,” “Successfully managed,” etc. 4. Use present tense verbs for your current job and past tense for all other jobs. For example, if you currently work as a custodian for a local business, you would say in your first sentence “Clean five buildings daily….” If you no longer have this job, you would write “Cleaned five buildings daily… ”. 5. Do not use personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “we,” or “them.” If your name is on the top of the resume, the reader knows that the statements refer to you unless you state otherwise. 6. If possible, include accomplishments as opposed to just listing responsibilities. Never begin a sentence with “Responsibilities included...” or “Duties include...”. It’s not unusual to see this on a resume, but it doesn’t add any value to one. This type of beginning may capture what you did, but you need to go further than that. Starting with action verbs helps you capture what you did and how you did it. Were you good at your job? If so, tell why. 5
  6. 6. 7. Highlight soft skills. When you don’t have much experience, it’s a good idea to mention soft skills to capture how you went about doing a job. How can you identify what your transferable skills are? Ask yourself two questions: Were you good at the job you did? If so, why? Did you figure out how to do the job well in a short time (ability to learn quickly)? Was it your ability to keep customers happy (customer-service skills or interpersonal skills)? Was it that you never missed work or showed up late (dependability or strong work ethic)? Be a little careful about throwing transferable skills around. Don’t just mention these skills and leave out what you actually did on the job. Employers need to know what your duties were—even if it was simply waiting on tables! Also, be careful not to overuse the transferable skills—weaving one or two them into each job description may be adequate. Above all, never claim that you have a transferable skill unless you can prove that you have it! 8. Either the bullet/outline format or the paragraph format is acceptable. When writing up your job description, use whichever format works best for you. If your job experience is complex and relatively hard to explain, the paragraph format may work best. If you had numerous and highly varied job responsibilities, you might find the bulleted format easier to use. It’s up to you.A STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH TO WRITING UP YOUR JOB EXPERIENCEWriting job descriptions takes time, effort, and practice. But once you learn how todo this effectively, this skill will help you for the rest of your career. Let’s look at astep-by-step formula to writing effective job descriptions. The changes in each stepare indicated by having the text underlined:Step 1Write down the organization’s name and location, then the job title and dates ofemployment on the second line: SANTA’S TREE FARM Kent, CT Laborer November 2009 – PresentStep 2Write down in simple terms the various duties you have or had in a given job: SANTA’S TREE FARM Kent, CT Laborer November 2009 - Present ! Plant trees and help them grow. ! Mow property. ! Cut down trees for customers, accept payment, and tie trees to customers’ cars. 6
  7. 7. Step 3Unless you worked for an organization that almost everyone knows (such as PizzaHut), consider adding details about the nature of the employer and the purpose of thejob: SANTA’S TREE FARM Kent, CT Laborer November 2009 - Present ! Working as only hired employee for small family-owned business, plant trees and help them grow to ensure that adequate supply of Christmas trees is available each winter. ! Mow property regularly to make sure that trees have adequate exposure to sunlight and room to grow. ! Cut down trees for customers, accept payment, and tie trees to cars.Step 4Add quantitative details and professional terms when possible to bring theexperience to life: SANTA’S TREE FARM Kent, CT Laborer November 2009 - Present ! Working as only hired employee for small family-owned business, plant over 300 trees annually and help them grow to ensure that adequate supply of Christmas trees is available each winter. ! Mow property regularly to make sure that all four varieties of evergreen trees have adequate exposure to sunlight and room to grow. ! Cut down approximately 200 trees per year for customers, accepting payments and safely tying trees to cars.Step 5 (Optional)Add a phrase or two containing transferable skills in order to capture how well youdid the job and what you might be able to provide to an employer in a moreprofessional setting: SANTA’S TREE FARM Kent, CT Laborer November 2009 - Present ! Working as only hired employee for small family-owned business, exhibit an outstanding work ethic when planting over 300 trees annually and helping them grow to ensure that adequate supply of Christmas trees is available each winter. ! Demonstrate strong attention to detail when mowing property regularly to make sure that all four varieties of evergreen trees have adequate exposure to sunlight and room to grow. ! Cut down approximately 200 trees per year for customers, accepting payments, and safely tying trees to cars. 7
  8. 8. SKILLSWe strongly urge you to include this section on your resume. Most careers have aspecial set of skills and abilities that students gain from coursework or experiencewhen preparing for the career. The Skills section provides you with a way toidentify which of these special skills you possess. This section helps the employerquickly see if you have the skills they are seeking in a job candidate.Where to place your skills is a bit of a judgment call. If your skills are very strong,you may list them between your Education and Experience sections. If your skillsare less impressive, put them below your Experience section.Every high school student should have at least some basic computer skills. Thus,if you don’t choose to list other skills, you can at least have a section entitledComputer Skills. Do not overstate your abilities, but don’t be modest either. Youneed to state your abilities clearly.With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to capture your computer skillson your resume, whether you learned those skills at school, work, or on your own.Many students are unsure about whether their skills with a given application aregood enough to put on their resumes. Obviously, you want to be honest, but youalso want to give yourself credit for what you do know. One suggestion for dealingwith this dilemma is to break down your knowledge of applications under thecategories of “Proficient with,” “Familiar with,” and “Exposure to.” If you have tonsof experience with Excel—including experience with pivot tables and vlookup—saythat you are proficient with it. If you know how to do formulas, alter columns androws, and create charts and graphs but not much more, you might say that youare familiar with it. While if you have only used it a few times or your experience isin the distant past, play it safe and say that you just have exposure to Excel.Beyond describing your computer skills, let’s consider other skills that you want tomake sure to mention. In addition, you should include skills you have in thefollowing areas:Language Skills: Fluent in., Conversational ability in., etc.)Licenses and Training (Real Estate, CPR, First Aid)Here is what your Skills section might look like:SKILLSProficient with Microsoft Word and PowerPointFamiliar with Windows XP/Vista and ExcelExposure to HTMLConversational in Spanish 8
  9. 9. INTERESTSNot everyone agrees that listing your interests on your resume is a good idea.Some experts argue that a job search is a very serious business and onlyinformation directly related to job experience, education, skills, and abilitiesbelongs on your resume. On the other hand, many experts argue that how youspend your free time reveals another dimension of your personality, as well asimportant skills such as communication, leadership, motivation and initiative,time management, resourcefulness, organization, and energy.Listing your interests on your resume is a chance to include activities, hobbies,and community involvement—to show you’re well rounded. Interests humanizeyou—and anything that makes you seem more like a real person than just a nameon a page will make an employer more inclined to give you an interview.Try to be specific. Listing “dancing, reading, and sports” is much less interestingthan, say, “ballet, contemporary short fiction, and ice hockey.”Ideally, list things in your interests’ section that are related to the type of work youare seeking. For example, if you want to be a writer, be sure to list what interestsyou as a reader as well as any sort of writing you’ve done for pleasure.Avoid anything that might be controversial or that may raise a potential concern.For example, it is best not to list text-messaging, video games, hanging out withfriends, or shopping. You also want to show interests that require someintellectual curiosity or at least energy.Here is a sample Interests section: INTERESTS Skiing, chess, current events, triathlons, and campingREFERENCESBe sure to create a reference page, using the same heading as on your resume aswell as the same type and color of paper. Contact your references first to ask theirpermission to be used as a reference. Being prepared will result in a betterreference when an employer calls upon your contact.You should have at least three references and ideally around five. Try to includetwo or three professional/work references, one or two school references, and oneor two character references. A character reference is a coach, a religious leader, ora family friend who has known you for many years, while a work reference isusually a direct supervisor. Include name, title, company, company address,telephone number, and an e-mail address for each reference. 9
  10. 10. You should always bring a few copies of your reference page to an interview, soyou can give them to the interviewer immediately, if asked. A sample of a goodreference page is included at the end, following two sample resumes that you canuse as models.A MUST TO AVOID: TEMPLATESWe can’t say this more emphatically: Don’t use a word-processing template! Theymay appeal to those who are lazy and/or fear that they don’t know enough aboutword processing to make the format look good. Templates are not the answer.Templates make it extremely difficult for you to revise and update a resume, andthey may force you into including or emphasizing items that are not appropriatefor a high school student looking for a job.After you have written your resume, use the checklist on the following page tomake sure that it meets the successful resume standard.YOUR RESUME IS A REFLECTION AND PERSONAL STATEMENT OF YOU!Please keep in mind that these are suggestions, not requirements. Your resume isa reflection of you, and as such, you should feel comfortable and proud of itscontents. While writing your resume, you will be presenting your experience andachievements in the best way possible. However, there is no room for deceit or lieson a resume. Grade point averages, dates, skills, and achievements must beaccurate and honest.While writing your resume, have several people proofread for grammatical andspelling errors. Many employers will discard your resume as soon as a typo isdiscovered, the theory being that if you cannot take the time to submit an error-free resume, then the quality of your work may reflect the same low standards. Toput it more simply, an employer might think, “If this is the best, I’d hate to see therest!”So invest your time wisely and do a superb job! There is no exact formula for aperfect resume, but these suggestions are based on experience, employerrecommendations, and research. Learn to do your resume well now, and you willfind that this skill will be helpful to you throughout your career. GOOD LUCK! 10
  11. 11. RESUME CHECKLISTThe resume is one page in length.The resume has been carefully checked for spelling and punctuation errors.Job descriptions are grammatically correct.There are no personal pronouns (I/me).Job descriptions do not begin with: “Responsibilities included” or “Dutiesconsisted of” or anything similar to those constructions.Use powerful action verbs (e.g., handled, earned, mastered, managed,served) rather than weaker verbs (e.g., did, got, was, had)Abbreviations of states are correct (e.g., MA not Ma. or Mass.)The format is neat and attractive to the eye.The format is easily readable.All major components of a resume are included.Job titles are listed for each job description.Dates and locations of employment are included for each work experience,and they are written in the same format each time.Telephone number(s) and email address are correctResume will be copied on 8 1/2 X 11 inch paper in white or some otherneutral colorIf you are required to submit your resume electronically, convert the filefrom Word to PDF and then check the PDF version to ensure that theconversion didn’t create problems with alignment and formatting. 11
  12. 12. Jessica Smith 123 Street Somerville, MA 01234 (617) 123-4567 jessica@student.comEDUCATIONSomerville High School Somerville, MAHigh School Diploma June 2011Relevant Coursework: Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, English, Literature, and Painting.Activities: Intramural Basketball, Glee Club, and Yearbook CommitteeWORK EXPERIENCEOld Navy Everett, MASales Associate June 2009-Present • Communicate effectively when assisting customers in finding clothing for adults and children. • Serve as fitting room attendant showing clients to rooms, finding appropriate sizes and styles for customers, and monitoring item count to reduce theft. • Use strong organizational skills when folding clothing, hanging items, and maintaining all visual displays according to company codes.Camp Sunshine Cambridge, MACamp Counselor June 2007 and August 2008 • Displayed outstanding degree of responsibility when supervising a group of 20 elementary school students during sports, arts, and educational activities. • Assisted Lead Counselor with curriculum development and monitoring safety.VOLUNTEER & LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCESomerville Elementary School Somerville, MATutor Sept. 2008 - Present • Work one-on-one with first grade students to improve reading ability and retention. • Receive extensive yearly literacy training.Somerville High School Somerville, MAFreshman Class President 2007-08 • Displayed strong interpersonal skills when representing 345 freshmen during student government meetings and activities. • Listened to needs and issues of the class and presented appropriate requests in a schoolwide forum.SKILLSComputer: Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Adobe Acrobat; and Internet researchLanguages: Fluent in both oral and written Spanish.INTERESTSVolleyball, ballet, teaching, current events, and working with children. References Provided Upon Request 12
  13. 13. John Adeyemi 123 Washington Street Boston, MA 01234 johnadeyemi@student.com 617-566-0000EDUCATIONBoston Latin Academy Boston, MACollege Preparatory Curriculum June 2012Honors: National Honor Society, Most Valuable Player Varsity Baseball 2011, Most-Improved Soccer Player 2010Activities: Yearbook Committee (Editor), Varsity Baseball, Varsity Soccer, Debate Club,Amnesty International ClubCOMMUNITY SERVICEBoys & Girls Club Boston, MAKeystone Leader May 2010-PresentWork with youth ages 8-12 to develop self-confidence and awareness throughorganized projects and simple conversation. Serve as a mentor to demonstrate healthyand safe decision-making. Participate in extensive leadership training.Photography Club MemberTake and prepare photographs to present at club shows and in print publications.Attend lectures and workshops from guest artists.Nigerian Youth Organization Dorchester, MAVolunteer Sept. 2009-PresentOrganize annual cookouts that serve as member celebration and recruitment as well asan organization fundraiser. Facilitate meetings and workshops to educate public aboutNigerian culture.SKILLSComputer: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, Acrobat, and HTMLLanguages: Intermediate Level FrenchCertifications: American Red Cross First Aid, CPR, and Scuba DivingINTERESTS____________________________________________________Pottery, reading contemporary fiction, camping, poetry, and cooking References Provided Upon Request 13
  14. 14. John Adeyemi 123 Washington Street Boston, MA 01234 johnadeyemi@student.com 617-566-0000ReferencesMary Jane Grusemeyer (Current supervisor at Boys & Girls Club)111 East Miller StreetBoston, MA 00111Phone: 617-294-1200E-mail: mjgrusemeyer@gmail.comJoseph Groverman (Former teacher at Boston Latin School)Boston Latin School78 Avenue Louis PasteurBoston, MA 02115Phone: 617-635-8895E-mail: jagroverman@bls.orgSusan Basherly (Current teacher at Boston Latin School)Boston Latin School78 Avenue Louis PasteurBoston, MA 02115Phone: 617-635-8895E-mail: susanbacherly@bls.orgOlawunmi K. Akinwumi (Youth Director of Nigerian Youth Organization, MA)Nigerian Youth Organization of Boston, Inc.P.O. Box 191039Boston, MA 02119Phone: 617-848-2603e-mail: okakinwumi@nyoboston.org 14