If your teen is starting to think about college, it’s also a good time to work on developing a resume. As Eileen Huntington of the Huntington Learning Center explains, resumes are valuable for many reasons. “Teens can use the resume to prepare for college interviews, to share with people writing them letters of recommendation and much more,” she says. What should teens include on their resumes? What should be avoided? Huntington offers these tips:
- Make it brief. Even the most involved, standout high school junior or senior should limit the resume to one front-and-back page.
- Format well. A resume should be scannable and easy to read. It’s important to divide it into sections (separated by headers) and make use of bullets, bolding, and italics where appropriate.
- Focus on the most important elements. For a high school student, the education section of the resume should be the primary focus, but don’t leave out other important content. Here’s a possible template:
- Contact information – Name, address, phone number, email address
- Education section – Graduation date, weighted grade point average, and SAT/ACT scores
- Valuable skills section – Software proficiency, foreign languages, etc.
- Extracurricular activities – Any sports, clubs, activities or volunteer work
- Work experience – Any for-pay work experiences, including employer name, job title, responsibilities, and recognition
- Highlight character traits and work ethic. The purpose of a high school resume is to augment, not repeat, the college application. Thus, teens should highlight their skills, passion, work ethic and leadership skills through the jobs and other activities they list.
- Highlight accomplishments. Again, it is important for teens to use the resume to showcase their strengths to colleges as well as teachers/mentors writing recommendation letters for them. That means including any achievements, awards or other recognition on the resume (e.g. not just Chess Club, but Chess Club, Four-time district champion, 2016-2019).
- Show course work not on a high school transcript. That includes any college prep courses, college courses, academic camps or training programs, certifications or similar.
- Consider a summary section. Some teens might want to include a career summary or a personal summary. This section calls out a teen’s goals and best traits/assets and can be a great resume addition.
Lastly, Huntington shares with parents that the resume helps teens reflect on their high school careers and prepare for the next step in their lives. “As teens get closer to college, it is so important that they put their best foot forward and feel confident talking about their strengths and assets,” she says. “Encourage your teen to invest the time into developing a great resume, as it will help get him or her into ‘professional mode’ and prepared to show colleges his or her very best.”
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