High School Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide
A resume can seem pointless when you’re still in high school. You’re likely imagining a stuffy document with a ton of impressive job titles and bulleted lists of important milestones at those impressive careers as long as your arm.
Approach your resume the same way you would approach a college application or scholarship application: how do you best capture your strengths to prove that you've got what it takes?
How do your test scores stack up when applying to college?
The best resumes are actually no more than a page and are carefully worded to show off your best attributes. We all have to start somewhere and your high school career (yes, career) has just as many important moments to document. It’s just a matter of identifying them.
At its core, a resume is very simple, it’s a one-page document showcasing you. Whether you’re applying for your first job or your tenth, a scholarship or an undergraduate program, the idea of the resume stays exactly the same. You want to give the reader an idea of who you are and your general qualities.
High school resumes can include things like:
- Education (High School), including your GPA
- Additional Skills
Your resume doesn’t have to include all of these sections, but we want to make the page looks balanced without too much white space. If you can’t think of any awards or honors, then don’t include that section. If you don’t have any projects that you’re particularly proud of, then we won’t focus on that. It’s all a matter of showing what you have accomplished.
Take a look at this example high school resume and we’ll break it down bit by bit.
Let’s grapple with the resume from top to bottom. At the very top, in the largest text size, should be your name. Your contact information should always be nearby and very visible. Include your phone number and email address, as well as general location. You can put your entire address if you want, but all that’s required is the town and state you live in.
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If you haven’t already, now is a good time to make a professional email address. Make it some combination of your first/middle/last name and tack on some numbers if necessary. This is the email you’ll want to use on your resume, when emailing potential employers, and for communicating with schools.
You can also choose to include an objective or summary. Sort of like a tagline, it lets the person reading know your primary goal. This can be very general, or you can change it based upon where you’re submitting your resume.
The next section should be one of two options: either your high school information or most recent job/internship experience. A quick tip for figuring out which you should choose is to determine what is more relevant to what you’re applying for and ranking the importance.
In this resume, for instance, if they were applying for a job at a different salon, that work experience should be put first since it’s the most relevant. If the job was for an internship at a publishing company, the high school information should go first, followed by the Activities section.
So, the first two things you should ask yourself are:
- Why am I making this high school resume?
- What will showcase my abilities for them the best?
Once you’ve determined what’s most important, we can build your resume around it. Let’s assume that your high school information is going first and build out from there! For the high school section of your resume, include the full name, the town of your high school, and the expected graduation date. Include your GPA if it’s a 3.0 or above and then make sure to highlight any special courses you take; AP, Honors, and Dual Credit are all great to document.
Next, is your job or activities experience more relevant? If, like in the example, it’s your activities, then that should be your next section. What do you do other than go to school and don’t say “nothing.” You don’t power down after the final bell rings and automatically restart right before first hour.
Do you play a sport? Participate in a theater? Are you part of a club or organization? All of those activities you listed in your head in response to those questions are bullet points on your high school resume. List them all, your position, and the duties that come along with it. If you’re a member of the group, don’t forget that attendance, participation, and dedication is always worth mentioning.
Finally, no one is expecting a student between the ages of 14-18 to have extensive (if any) work experience. What they are expecting is to glean some sort of substance. If you’ve worked at the local cafe for a year, they can tell you’re responsible and likely have good customer service skills. On the other hand, if you’ve been on the school soccer team for three years, they know you’re dedicated and follow through on commitments. There are a lot of ways to show your personality, and here are a few you may not have thought of:
- Mowing lawns
- Pet sitting
- Participating in church functions
- Community service
- Having your own blog/YouTube channel
- Popular social media accounts
You can choose to list some skills to highlight specific bits about your resume. Typically, you’ll want to use a mix of soft and hard skills. Soft skills aren’t easily measurable. Examples include being a good listener, engaging in small talk, or getting along with others. Hard skills are measurable, such as words per minute when typing or the ability to use a program, such as the Adobe suite.
You can find a number of great, free templates that are easy to work with for your high school resume. There are some on Microsoft Word, Pages and on Google Docs. They’re already formatted and are generally accepted resume shapes, so it’s good to start with those. At this point, keeping your resume simple and clean is a good rule of thumb. The example above is a Google Docs template, which can be found in the Resume section. This one is called “Serif.”
At the end of the day, after you submitted your resume, when all is said and done, half of the battle is taking the time to do it. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and advocate for yourself. After all, you want the job/internship/scholarship, so show that you deserve it!
You're on top of things! But... have you made your college list yet?
Creating a high school resume is a wonderful first step as you prepare for college. The next step? Building out a college list to keep track of the schools you're interested in.