Resume writing tips for teens

Posted October 13, 2011, by Helen Isbister

When the weekly pocket money doled out by mum and dad no longer covers the cost of the essentials of life, the time will come to leave the simple life of unshackled freedom and join the rank and file of the paid workforce.

Before you get started on your search for a job, you will need a resume. With the right one, you can have Maccas, local cafes and shops falling over themselves to have you working for them. With the wrong one, you’ll stay payless and poor!

Believe it or not, teenagers are in very high demand for some jobs. For a start, teens come at a cheaper price than older workers. They are often happy to work short shifts, rock up weekends or afternoons, and stick to a casual and flexible roster.

FYICheck to see if there are any minimum age limits in your state. Some companies also have minimum age limits so, before you get excited about that dream job at the local cinema, make sure you’re old enough.

But with lots of competition from your school pals, it’s essential that your resume is good enough to woo business owners into giving you a chance. Even though your qualifications and experience may be non-existent, handing over a resume demonstrates you are keen to get a job. It also gives the boss a record of your contact details and generally puts you ahead of the rest of the crowd.

Follow these simple steps to resume writing and double or triple your pocket money.

Start with contact details
The first thing you need to do is say who you are. And it makes it easier for your prospective boss to get hold of you. Your contact details should have your name, telephone number and email address prominently placed at the top of the resume. If you have a wacky email address like [email protected], it would be a solid investment in those designer jeans to set up something a little more conservative to show you are a mature professional (or at least you can pretend to be).

Say what you want and what you can do
What position are you looking for? Make it clear what job you want and your availability. A quick line saying you want to be a dish-pig and are available to work weekends is sufficient.

Include your educational level
Because you are most likely still at school, state the school you attend and what grade you are in. Including your education is a standard in resumes so it’s good to make yours look professional.

Be creative with work experience
Even if you haven’t had a ‘real’ job with set hours and pay, informal or volunteer work counts as work experience. It shows that you are proactive and keen, and it is all potential employers expect to see at this stage in your ‘career’. Door knocking for the Red Shield Appeal or helping out on weekends at the local retirement home is something to be proud of. Babysitting your twin cousins, gardening for your neighbours, walking the dogs in your street or taking part in school-organised work experience all demonstrate a good work ethic. Make a note of the responsibilities involved in each if necessary.

Add your skills and achievements
A decade and a half of gracing the earth with your presence is bound to have left you with at least some resume-worthy achievements. A distinction in a nationwide academic competition, trophies galore from sporting prowess or good results in music exams all speak volumes about your ability to focus on a task and achieve good outcomes.

Also let your employer know about any special skills you can bring to the table. Speaking more than one language, proficiency at Microsoft Office or administration skills will all give you an upper hand over a teen that solely excels at playing Buck Hunter. Being good at Maths is a definite asset if you are going to be handling money.

Don’t forget your interests and activities
Letting a potential employer know your interests will make you stick in their minds and create a character that exists beyond the sheet of paper. Playing sport, singing in a band and being captain of the debating team demonstrate that you are a well-rounded and accomplished person (and not just the pimply, trouble-making teen).

Find two referees
Referees are people who know you and can vouch for you when a prospective employer wants to make sure that you are a safe bet.

Ask a sporting coach, teacher or family friend if they are happy to be a referee. If they agree, write their name, relationship to you, phone number and email address at the bottom of your resume. The employer might call one or both of your referees to determine whether you are reliable, efficient and trustworthy so choose someone who has a high opinion of you.

Make it look good
Once you have the content of your resume ready, you need to make it look great.

Before anyone even starts reading it, they will notice how it looks. If it is messy and badly put together, it will probably go straight to the bin.

Keep the layout simple. Use one font only. Be clear and concise. Make sure it is no longer than a page long. Get your parents to proofread the final copy because one spelling mistake could undo all your hard work and condemn you to a life of financial dependence!

Helen Isbister

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