Plenty of experienced people struggle with resume writing, so how does a high school student who’s searching for their first job put together an effective resume? The answer is: Pretty easily! We’ve got a step-by-step guide to creating a great high school resume.
If you’re a student searching for a high school resume template, look no further. You can download our fillable template here. Below, we break down exactly what you should and shouldn’t include in your resume and share our tried and true tips for landing the job.
What goes on a high school resume? Generally, the same content that you’ll find on a professional resume, with a few minor tweaks. To break it down for you, you’ll need to have seven main sections. These sections are:
- Name and Contact Information
- Profile (also known as the objective/summary)
- Work Experience (if you have any)
- Awards and/or Honors
Your resume should, from top to bottom, match the list above. Your name and contact information should be prominently displayed at the top of the page, followed by your profile section, education, any work experience, and so on.
Divide your sections using lines or white space. White space can be created by pressing the “Enter” button twice between sections. Whichever display style you choose, make sure to stick with it. Too many fonts, colors, and design elements can distract from your content and make your resume appear immature.
Pro Tip: You can find free professional resume templates all over the internet. Or, you can download our fillable template here!
Where to Begin
Once you’ve got the basics covered and your resume format looks great, it’s time to focus on making sure your content is solid.
Your name should be bolded and in a larger font than the rest of your text. Include your personal cell phone number and professional email address. On the next line down, include the city and state you live in.
Pro Tip: In the past, it was the norm to list your full address on your resume. Now, with most communication coming via email, it’s acceptable to simply list a city and state.
If you have a LinkedIn profile or professional website, link to it in the contact portion of your document. If you don’t have either, don’t worry. As long as you have your name, location, and two ways to contact you, you’re set.
Profile, Objective, Summary, Whatever It’s Called
Once upon a time, this section was called a summary. Then, it was rebranded as an objective. Now, it’s a profile. Think about it as a bio – You want to highlight your skills, experience, and intent, but still, keep it brief. Paragraphs have no place on a resume!
Start out by mentioning your skills. Are you detail-oriented, enthusiastic, energetic, assertive, or analytical? As a student, most of your abilities will be soft skills (personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people). Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured (for example: typing). Soft skills are great descriptors that can help paint a positive picture of you in an employer’s head.
Once you’ve described yourself using two or three soft skills, move on to your experience. As a high schooler, you may be applying for your first real job, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have applicable experience! If you volunteer with an organization or are part of a club or sport, you probably have marketable skills… You just need to think about what they are.
Have you handled cash or sales? Cash handling is a hard skill employers are looking for. Babysat for a family? You have customer service and problem-solving experience! As a student, employers will understand that you have a limited work history, so focus on emphasizing your skills.
After presenting your experience, it’s time to dive into the intent. Why do you think you’d be a valuable addition to a team? Make it very clear why you should be someone’s next employee. If you don’t have experience related to the position you’re applying for, use a sentence like: “Hard-working and eager to learn, I’m confident I would make a great addition to your team.”
Profiles are great for resumes that aim for a specific goal. If you want to land a job at a certain restaurant, store, or company, mention that! Feel free to include a line in your profile that says: “Hard-working and eager to learn, I’m confident I would make a great addition to the Subway team.” Follow with a statement that highlights your relevant experience, and you’re set.
For example: “Most of my experience is with customer service and cash handling.”
This one should be easy. As a student, it’s only natural that most of your resume will focus on your academic accomplishments. When you’re outlining your education section you’ll need to include your school’s name, location, and your dates of attendance or class standing (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior). Once you have those elements listed, it’s time to work on your bullet points.
Your first bullet point should focus on your GPA. List it as: 3.75/4.0 or 4.2/5.0
If your GPA isn’t the greatest, you can leave this portion off your resume.
Next, make a list of your Relevant Coursework. If you’re applying for a job that requires specific skills that you’ve learned in class, list the course.
For example: AP English and Journalism would be applicable for a writing or editing internship.
If you want your resume to be more generic, list courses you’ve taken/are taking that could be applied to various positions. Languages are always good courses to include, as are any honors or AP classes you’re enrolled in.
Finally, move on to Extracurricular Activities. List the clubs, organizations, and sports you’re involved with. Show potential employers that you’re involved in your school’s community and can juggle multiple responsibilities.
If you’re enrolled in college classes while you’re still in high school, list those courses in a separate education section. Underneath your high school experience, create an additional area to list your college’s name, location, and your dates of attendance, using the same format from above. Use bullet points to display your GPA and relevant coursework. You can also note how many credit hours you’ve completed.
Work Experience (If Applicable)
This section is optional. If you’ve never had a job before, you don’t need to include it. On a traditional resume, your work experience is the main focus, but skills and education are the highlights of a high school resume.
Have you held a job before? If yes, then make sure you include your work experience on your resume. Following the same display format as your Education section, list the name of the company you worked for, the location (city and state), your job title, and dates of employment.
We made things easy for you. Use our free, fillable template and your resume will be ready in minutes!
On the line below your job title, you’ll begin to list your responsibilities. Feel free to use the same bullet point method that you used earlier under Education.
Pro Tip: If you use bullet points in one area of your resume, use them consistently throughout the rest of the document.
If your job title is one whose duties would be easily understood, (Customer Service Rep, Hostess/Server, Retail Associate, etc.) list your achievements rather than your daily tasks.
Instead of including a bullet point that says you were responsible for ‘greeting customers and providing assistance,’ list tangible achievements. (Ex: Welcomed guests and implemented upselling techniques that resulted in a 15% increase in sales.) Highlighting your achievements shows employers that you’re a high-performer.
Aim for three to five bullet points per job.
Use your resume to humble-brag about yourself. As a student, your work experience is limited, so you’re relying on other areas of your resume to land you a job. Underneath the Achievements section, list any clubs or teams that you held a leadership position within. Include a summary of your responsibilities and what you accomplished with your team.
Pro-Tip: You can combine the Achievements section with the Awards and Honors section if your resume starts to spill over onto a second page. As a high school student, your resume should fit on a single sheet.
Even if you didn’t hold a leadership position in a club, you can still use the Achievement section to highlight yourself. Did you have a great idea that saved the Prom Committee a bunch of money? Maybe you hosted a fundraiser for the French Club and earned enough cash to host a foreign exchange student for the semester. Any contributions you made to your group will show a potential employer that you’re a team player. You can also list the total number of community service hours you have worked for the year.
Follow the same design format that you used for your Education and/or Work Experience section(s) when listing your achievements. If you used bullet points earlier in your resume, apply them here as well.
On a professional resume, the Skills section is used to showcase hard skills that a person has learned over time. You’ll often see Photoshop, InDesign, and Adobe Illustrator on a marketing on graphic design resume, and Quickbooks, Peachtree, and AP/AR on an accounting resume. As a high school student, you may not have had exposure to professional software systems, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable skills.
The skills you’ll choose to highlight should depend on the industry you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an internship, make sure to tailor your resume to what experience the company is looking for. For general entry-level jobs, feel free to keep your resume generic.
For example: Cash handling and upselling would be great skills to use for a retail or food service resume, but not on one that you’re using to apply for an internship at a doctor’s office.
Have your teachers, friends, or coaches ever told you that you were great at something? Those are skills you can use on a resume!
The reason Skills is separate from all other sections is because it’s supposed to be easy to find and understand. If your skills were mixed in with your responsibilities at a past job, an employer might have a hard time finding them.
Pro-Tip: Resumes are read for an average of six seconds, so it’s your goal to make the information you’re presenting as easy to find as possible. Use bullet points to list your skills, one at a time.
If you’re able to speak more than one language, list it! Another common skill on a high school resume is proficiency with the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel). Feel free to use a mix of hard (teachable abilities such as math and reading) and soft (attitude and work ethic) skills in this section.
Awards and Honors
The last section of your resume is a summary of your accolades throughout your high school career. (Accolade is a fancy word for an award.) So, just like in the Achievements section, feel free to humble-brag about yourself!
If you’re part of an honors society, have received any certificates or awards through school or outside extracurriculars, or have achieved anything exceptional in your lifetime, this is the section for it. If you’re an Eagle Scout or recipient of the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award, make sure you list that at the very top of your Awards and Honors section.
If your list of awards to choose from is so long that you can’t possibly fit them all into a single section on your resume, we’ve got a few tips that will help you narrow your selection. When choosing what honors and awards are valuable additions to your resume, keep the following points in mind.
- Was the award given to you in the last two years? If not, consider leaving it out of your list if it’s not a national honor.
- Is the award something that’s professionally based? “Best Dancer” on the school team probably won’t help you land a job, so avoid using that, and similar awards.
- Are you proud of your accomplishment? If yes, include it!
Creating a resume from scratch is hard but we’ve given you both the foundation of information and the tools to be successful. Download our fillable resume template, fill in your personal information, and you’ll have a professional high school resume ready to go in minutes. Once it’s complete, you can send it back to us for a free resume review before you send it out to potential employers!
Once you’ve sent out your resume, it’s time to start preparing for interviews. The best advice we can give you is to start practicing your answers to common interview questions, put together a professional outfit, and bring the right stuff with you to your meeting.
Best of luck!