How to Create a High School Student Resume That Stands Out
Are you a high school student looking for a new job or internship? Or maybe you’re starting the hectic college application process? If so, you’ll want to pay careful attention when creating your resume. This will be the first chance you have to make a lasting impression that could affect your life for years to come.
What Is a Resume?
If you’re a high school student, this may very well be your first time creating a resume. So what exactly is a resume? A resume is a formal document listing off your education, volunteer, and work experience in relation to a position, scholarship, or school you might be applying for. This is a place you want to show off why you would be a great candidate for the job, internship, college admission, or scholarship. Most resumes follow a specific template so all of the information can be read easily and succinctly.
Some high school jobs may not require a resume, but providing one is a great way to show greater interest in the position and stand out from other potential candidates. Resumes are usually concise and don’t always use complete sentences. The main goal is to convey as much information as possible in one page. In contrast, a CV (short for the Latin phrase “curriculum vitae”) is a more extensive record listing out every single achievement and qualification.
Why Do You Need a Resume?
Before we get too deep into how to create a resume, let’s talk about why a resume can be so valuable for a high school student. Many students may think they can simply fill out a job application and not worry about a resume since they’re young and don’t have a lot of life experience. But creating a resume for a job, college application, or internship is beneficial in a host of ways, such as:
- Helping you stand out by giving an employer, college, or scholarship committee additional information about you
- Giving you a chance to track your accomplishments and see where you need more experience
- Making you look prepared and impressive to potential managers
- Giving you ideas on college essay topics
- Giving you valuable experience that will help you draft future resumes
- Helping you recognize your skills and accomplishments
- Giving you a head start on networking and having a list of references
Creating the Perfect Resume
Because employers and interviewers often sort through stacks and stacks of resumes, you’ll want to learn techniques to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Crafting the perfect resume is an art that will serve you your whole life, and high school is a great time to learn the best practices.
A resume is like a thirty-second introduction to all your experience, skills, activities, and achievements. Make every one of those seconds count with these tips on how to create a high school student resume that stands out:
1. Include Appropriate Elements
First things first. No resume will be effective if it doesn’t convey all the proper information. Although it can be different for the type of job, internship, or college you’re applying for, there are some general categories of information that any resume should include. Make sure all of the information is clearly stated and included in order of most to least important. Here is a checklist of what to include on your high school student resume:
- Personal information. This includes your name, address, email, phone number, and social media links. (Yes, hirers will want to see your social media in this day and age!)
- Education. Now is the time to note your school, your GPA, any honors, Advanced Placement®, or dual-enrollment courses, and summer programs.
- Extracurricular activities. This is an important part of any high schooler’s resume, as it makes you stand out from all the other students getting good grades. Sports and clubs are a given for this section, but be sure to include other relevant hobbies or activities you participate in outside of school as well (e.g., community service or faith-based committees or activities).
- Achievements. If you’ve received any awards, now is the time to brag about them. Include academic awards, sports awards, or any other notable achievements.
- Extras. If you’ve had a part-time job or helped with a community project, you’ll certainly want to include it on your resume. Make a separate section to add any extra accomplishments and interests that don’t fit in with the other categories, such as caring for younger siblings or helping with the family business.
- References. Many hirers and interviewers will want to talk to people who know you, so be sure to include references that you’ve lined up in advance, preferably not relatives or your classmates. Make sure these people can speak of you in a positive light and know you well enough to sing your praises. Include their names, emails, and phone numbers to make it easy for them to be contacted.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
Any seasoned writer knows the value of showing rather than telling, and this holds true for your resume. This age-old writing tip means that you should give detailed nouns rather than arbitrary adjectives to explain yourself. For example, saying you’re a “dedicated student” is not as effective as saying that you’re a student who “stays after class to review every test with the teacher.” Give detailed examples of your best traits or skills. Here are a few of the things you want to give examples of:
- Going above and beyond
- Working well in a group
- Organizing information, events, or resources
- Excelling at time management
- Managing projects or tasks efficiently
- Using problem-solving skills
- Using resilience and determination to overcome problems
- Thinking critically
- Balancing a busy schedule
- Showing that you are well-rounded
3. Choose a Simple, Eye-Catching Design
All the hard work you put into crafting your resume could go out the window if the design is not easy to read. Make sure your resume is simple in its design but also unique enough to stand out among a slew of other resumes. The more creative the industry, the more unique and bright your resume design can be. You can buy a resume template or search for a freebie online to make the process even easier. Here are some great sources to get you started:
4. Be Relevant
Your resume is your first chance to introduce yourself, and if you don’t include specific information, the reader will never know all your accomplishments. But be sure you’re listing only experience relevant to the job or opportunity. Make a list of your accomplishments, such as any special classes, activities, service opportunities, or awards you’ve received. Then, with the specific job or opportunity in mind, select the ones that could be relevant to the position you’re applying for. Ideally, you have enough of these items to fill your resume and you can leave the irrelevant qualifications completely off the resume. You should be as concise as possible while still fitting in all the information you can. No one wants to read a multipage resume.
5. Customize Your Resume for Each Occasion
As we just mentioned, you want your resume to be relevant to the position you’re applying for. This means you will need to put in a little more elbow grease and customize your resume to fit the particular circumstance. Students who send out the exact same resume for any job, college application, or internship will be at a disadvantage. Instead, read the qualities the job description or school is looking for and find ways to illustrate that you have those qualities through your resume.
6. Brag About Yourself
Writing your resume is not a time to be humble. Yes, you need to be honest, but you also need to confidently speak up about things you’ve done well. Do your best to avoid feeling embarrassed about singing your own praises. If you’re telling the truth, it’s something that may land you the job you’re after. You can do your own version of a humblebrag by following these tips:
- Focus on concrete results and outcomes of your hard work (e.g., “I helped my school get funding for a new pool by knocking on doors to get signatures”).
- Use statistics to give specific measurements of your success (e.g., “I improved my GPA by 10 percent in one year”).
- Make sure you include the most relevant and/or newest accomplishments first.
- Ask friends, family, and teachers what they think your strengths are, and find ways to mention those attributes in your resume. Sometimes it’s good to get a second opinion.
- Don’t exaggerate. If an accomplishment doesn’t sound very impressive, leave it out.
- Use action verbs rather than nouns or adjectives (e.g., “Developed an after-school program” rather than “I was part of an after-school program”).
- Other great action verbs:
- Other great action verbs:
Proofreading your resume is what could truly make or break your chances at scoring a position or internship. Even the best, most aesthetically pleasing resume in the world could be tossed to the side if it has even a few typos. Make sure you run spell check on your resume, but don’t stop there. Print out the resume and proofread it yourself, then ask at least two other people to proofread it for you. Sometimes it takes several eyes to spot spelling and grammar mistakes.
8. Be Honest
As much as a resume is a time to brag about yourself, it’s also a time when you should avoid stretching the truth at all costs. If you land an interview with the people reading your resume, they’ll certainly ask you for more information about the things you’ve listed on your resume. You want to be able to give honest answers that show your true colors. Boosting your GPA by a few points or changing a test score result is unacceptable. If you have something on your resume that you’re less than proud of, consider leaving it off completely.
9. Clean Up Your Online Presence
Though this doesn’t have to do with the creation of your resume, it certainly goes hand in hand with any best practices regarding the job or college application process. By turning in a resume with your contact information, you can be sure the viewers of your resume will be looking up your social media profiles. Give a good impression by deleting anything inappropriate or unprofessional. Avoid swearing, slurs, and trash talk in your social media posts.
It’s best never to post anything online that you would be ashamed of an employer seeing, because anything posted to the internet can never really be deleted permanently. Here are some tips to thoroughly clean up your online presence:
- Start the process well before you turn in your resume. You don’t want to wait until your potential employer is already scoping you out online.
- Google yourself and make sure anything that comes up in relation to your real identity is acceptable.
- Make sure you’re using proper grammar and spelling in your posts.
- If you find an embarrassing photo that someone else has posted of you, ask that they take it down.
- Make sure everything online reflects the information you put in your resume.
- Remove anything that seems immature or negative.
- Stay active on social media so you don’t look like you’re trying to hide something.
10. Get Your Resume in Early
Perhaps one of the most important tips we can give is to get your resume in ahead of the other guys and gals. Along with proofreading and using an eye-catching design, this is a tactic that will surely get you noticed by those reviewing resumes. Even if you’re applying within the deadline, you may be overlooked if you’re not one of the first few applicants. Always make sure you have the application opening days set on your calendar, and make a goal to turn yours in right away.
Time to Get Started
By following these ten tips, you’ll be well on your way to an impressive resume that will stand out from the competition. The time you invest in crafting a flawless resume will pay off for years to come. As a high schooler with resume-building skills, you’ll be well beyond many of your peers and equipped to tackle more complicated resumes in the future.
Learn more about how you can improve your high school student resume from Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers licensed school counselors and many programs to help students plan for college and career, including career clubs, virtual college visits, College Workshop Week, and a Career Fireside Chat series featuring successful professionals from many fields. The online public school program allows teenagers to get a high school diploma from home, and we provide many great resources for students.
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