Many students are surprised to learn that having a resume in high school is necessary, especially since they aren’t going to be applying to any professional jobs for years. But, a high school resume can come in handy when applying for after-school jobs since it will make you seem like a well-rounded and put-together applicant. More importantly, however, most colleges allow applicants to add a resume to their application which will allow you to present yourself in ways that can’t be done within 150 words in the activities section of the Common App. We recommend building your resume as soon as possible so it doesn't become added stress your senior fall. You are also less likely to forget things you've done if you are constantly updating your resume. Remember, your resume is a continual work in progress! Make sure to keep it at one page and use power verbs, which can be found here.
All resumes look different depending on the person, but here are our best tips when writing a high school resume. And of course, feel free to use our template at the bottom of the page to get started!
Type your name in large, bolded font. This should be centered.
Include your phone number, email address, home mailing address, and LinkedIn URL (if you have one) underneath your name.
Include your academic information here!
Be sure to include your high school and graduation year. It may also be helpful to list your GPA, any advanced classes you have taken (AP exams, Honors, Dual Credit, etc.), and your SAT/ACT scores. The latter should definitely be included if you are applying to college.
Include your most significant responsibilities and explain them in depth. It’s okay to be unconventional with your activities. If you babysit your siblings after school, include that!
List your extracurriculars in the order of most involvement to least involvement.
Leadership, Leadership, Leadership! Make sure to dig deep into your activities to show how you took initiative. For example, this can be being a club board member or being involved in planning a club event. *Hint Hint*: Bold these leadership roles
Include how long you have been a member of that club/activity. On the flip side, it’s okay to include clubs that you haven’t been a part of for a long time (just don’t wait until senior year to join ALL your activities). These should be listed closer to the bottom. As long as you can show that you were active, colleges will appreciate that you ventured outside of your comfort zone to try new things and that your interests have grown.
Try to be as specific as possible. Include numbers!! Some examples include how many people you managed, how many activities you planned, and how large the budget was that you created.
Work and Volunteer Experience Section
If you don’t have a lot of professional experience, feel free to include volunteer work here. Volunteering can also be listed in the activities section - it’s up to you! With each job, include your specific job title (Volunteer, Marketing Intern, etc.), the company you worked for, the location, how long you worked there, and a description of what you did. If you are applying for a job using this resume, feel free to include references. However, make sure you are comfortable with the employer calling/emailing your reference.
List your work in reverse chronological order - descending order with your newest jobs/work listed first.
As mentioned in the activities section, be as specific as possible. Colleges and employers want to understand how you improved the position you were in, not what your day-to-day tasks were. For instance, if you ran a marketing campaign for a company, don't write about creating Instagram posts or flyers. Instead, mention how many people you reached through your campaign, how many new followers your account gained, and how much money you raised.
Honors, Skills, and Interests Section
First, in this section, include any awards you have received. This can be related to sports, academics, volunteer work or otherwise. Unless the honor is not self-explanatory, there is no need to include a description. It is helpful if you can include years here too. Some examples include "3rd place in Model UN conference," "MVP of JV basketball team," "National Honors Society," and Dean’s List.
Next, feel free to include any of your relevant skills. For example, if you have taken a language for a long time, created podcasts, written blogs, have coding experience (Python, Java, etc.), ran social media/marketing campaigns, taken online classes or summer programs, play instruments (if not elsewhere in the resume), or have Microsoft Office (PowerPoint, Word, Excel) proficiency, list this here! If you are going to include languages, be sure to clarify your level (Spanish Diploma Level A1, HSK Level 3, etc.). The skills you list can be tailored to the position you are applying for.
Lastly, if you have space, you can include some of your interests. This section is entirely optional, but it can make you stand out as an applicant and is a great conversation starter during interviews. You can also include your interests to show some personality, such as a long-time hobby (a niche style of dance, baking or cooking, playing a musical instrument, reading a certain type of genre) or sport you do for fun on your own time.This is to help colleges or employers get to know YOU and not just your accomplishments.
So, what makes this resume strong? Let's break it down:
(1) It's clear and concise. Past roles have been clearly defined and broken down to their main responsibilities and leadership experiences. Notice how the resume is kept to one page!
(2) Action verbs! Notice how every bullet point begins with an "action verb." These descriptive words will resonate with the reader and really get your message across. For more action verbs, see this list.
(3) A holistic view: This resume shows a well-rounded person with experience in both leadership and collaboration, both inside and outside of school. Because you won't have much specialized experience in high school, try to include activities that have given you general experience to work in a cooperative environment.
What can be improved?
(1) More specificities. The resume could include more details about the applicant's accomplishments. For instance, how much money did they handle in transactions at Trader Joes? What strategies did they implement to train new employees? What programming did they plan for Diversity Day and how was attendance?
(2) Include personality. The extracurricular activities listed here are amazing, but they don't give much insight into the applicant's personality. In this case, it would benefit them to include their skills and interests. They would stand out more!
Remember, this resume example is relativley strong, so don't feel overwhelmed if you think that you won't have enough experience to list. The goal of your resume is to provide a concise history of your experience to your potential employer, even if you think that your experience is unrelated. Skills like customer service, communication, and teamwork can be applied to almost any job!
If you want to take a shot at populating your own resume, use the file titled "resume template" below! The file will open in word and allow you to edit it with your own information. Good luck and happy resume-making!
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