Finding a job can be difficult, especially for high school students without a lot of work-related experience. A well-written resume can provide the edge a student needs in today's competitive workplace.
Fortunately, companies are willing to train employees in the skills they need to be successful. The lack of experience isn't always a negative, especially if a student knows which resume will highlight their strengths and not draw too much attention to their weaknesses.
Resume Formats for Students
Today, there are three widely-accepted resume formats a high school student can use when applying for a job: functional, chronological, and combination resumes. Each of these has its strengths and weaknesses.
The primary feature of chronological resumes is an outline of the job applicant's prior job titles and places of employment. This is usually not a strength possessed by a high school student. The functional resume focuses on the skills and knowledge of the applicant, which is something high school students can claim. The combination style resume is the best choice for very experienced workers, since it contains the features of the other two styles.
Most high school students will not have a lot of relevant work experience. In fact, some students may be trying to get their first job, and might not have any "work" experience at all. Fortunately, they do have experience with life, and they may have been involved in activities that are appropriate to include in a resume. This is why the functional format is usually the best choice for a high school student.
Skills and Knowledge
A functional resume can highlight the skills and knowledge students obtained while in school. It does not feature work experience; therefore, it doesn't draw attention to this weakness. In the next several paragraphs examples will be used to illustrate this point. Later on, these examples will be expanded within a sample resume.
Let's assume the student is bilingual, or has taken Spanish classes in school. This knowledge could be enough to allow them to carry on a basic conversation in that language. That is an example of a skill a hiring manager could value, so it should appear on a resume.
Students oftentimes use a computer to complete their homework assignments, and may have acquired pretty good skills when it comes to word processing or spreadsheet applications. This is another example of a skill a high school student might possess and should include on their resume.
Similar examples can include organizations they may belong to such as scouting, chess and other clubs, sports teams, and even volunteering at local events or fundraisers. These are all examples of activities that can be included on a functional resume because a student has probably gained a skill or knowledge while participating.
Remembering all of these opportunities and activities is perhaps the most difficult part of putting the resume together. Ask a friend or parent if a reminder is needed; start the process by writing down ideas as they emerge.
Examples of Student Resumes
Remember that life's lessons are important and valued. Activities and participation demonstrate to prospective employers that, as a student, it's possible to gain experience that translates into a potentially reliable employee.
The resume we've prepared is in the functional format, and includes the same types of examples mentioned previously. The reason for putting together a resume is to stand out from the competition. The resume isn't going to be as rich as a document someone with 40 years of experience could write, but the hiring manager knows that too.
The following is a link to a downloadable Word document in the functional format: Sample Resume for High School Student.
Resume Writing Resources
Don't get nervous if the resume sample provided above looks too simple, it should. Students are typically looking for their first real job, part-time employment, or even a summer job. Everyone starts out the same way; and the functional resume allows even inexperienced workers to present their information in a professional and organized fashion.
Additional information on this topic can be found in a related article: Part Time Jobs for Teens. This website also contains a number of resume writing resources, on topics such as how to write a resume as well as a number of resume writing samples.
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