When it comes to applying for your summer internship, part-time job, or just building your professional network, one of the most important components is your resume. Your resume is a document that compiles all of your information for employers and professionals to review. You will open new doors just by having a well-written one-page long resume, while an unprofessional or sloppy one can spell your doom. When I was a freshman, I tried to follow several online resume templates but found little success. Those were meant for professional working adults, not high school students. After a few years of tweaking my own resume and reviewing others, I’ve come up with a good breakdown of what you should include in your high school resume.
Name and Contact Info
This part is very straight forward. Near or at the top of the document include your full name. Make sure this is clear and distinct from the body of the document by either increasing the font size, bolding, or using color. To take it a step further on my resume, I designed a logo for my name using Canva.com; the logo is very simple but gives my resume a little personality. Below your name, you should have all your contact information including your email, cell phone, home address, and LinkedIn profile link (if you have one). Although arbitrary, all of these are important because the person reviewing your resume should be able to reach out to you without getting any other materials from you.
One pro tip is to not include your childhood email. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is not appropriate for a resume. Create a new account that includes your name and which is not “embarrassing.” Small changes like this can help present yourself better on paper.
If you are looking for a specific type of position (ex. Finance intern) or want to let the person reading your resume explicitly know what you are interested in pursuing, an objective line can be a great tool. Below your name and contact info, put an objective header and write 1-2 sentences that explain what you are looking for. If you already have experience in this area, it will be reiterated in your resume. This area is optional because it is only really essential when you are looking for a job or internship in a specific field.
As easy as this sounds, there are a few things you should remember when writing your education section. List your current high school and graduating class first. Throughout your resume, the most current/relevant items should be at the top as those will be read first. If you have attended multiple high schools, the same rule applies. Below, you may list your GPA; however, be aware that this isn’t always required. If you don’t think it is important, don’t share it. Under your high school, list any classes that you have taken which are more advanced or specialized towards your career path. For example, if you are looking for a STEM internship, list the STEM classes you have taken that demonstrate your interest or expertise in the field.
On my resume, I included my AP and business-related classes to show that I challenge myself in school and that I am knowledgeable in business. Additionally, in the same section, you should include summer programs or college classes to demonstrate your interest and expertise.
Experience and/or Interests and Activities
This is the fun part! If you have worked before, list your previous jobs under the experience section. Or if you don’t have working experience, list all of your extracurricular activities, both in and out of school. List them chronologically so your current activities are at the top. If you participate in multiple activities concurrently, prioritize them by involvement, importance, or uniqueness. As for me, I list my outside of school commitments first because those are more unique than my sports and clubs.
For activities that you are no longer involved in, only include them if they have significance, such as if you learned new skills, held leadership positions, etc. I don’t include clubs or sports I was involved in for less than one year. With each activity, make sure to include your position (if any), the duration of your involvement, and a short description of the activity and what you did. The same goes for work experience. If you have more than three awards or recognitions, list these in the next section. Otherwise, add them to their corresponding activities.
Awards and Recognitions
This part is very straightforward – list your awards and recognitions in order of importance/relevance. Being the Spelling Bee champion in middle school is great, but is not necessarily relevant. Awards and distinctions should be related to the activities you listed above. On your resume, include the award title, who/what you go it from, and when. If there is something that should be explained, include a brief 1-2 sentence description. By keeping these separate, the reader is easily able to recognize your excellence!
Skills and Abilities
This section is super important because it’s simply a bulleted list of your skills and abilities. These aren’t skills like doing a backflip. Rather, you need to include what makes you an asset. Here are some examples of good skills to include:
- CPR/AED Certified (American Red Cross)
- Certified Child Caretaker
- Conversational Spanish
- Knowledge of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
- Knowledge in Python
- Typing speed of 70 WPM
- Knowledge in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Canva
Think about what you can bring to the table and how you can benefit your future employer. These skills can be specific to the position you are applying to or more generalized. Think about things you have learned that can be applied to your future career field or in a general workspace. Certifications are great to include. However, if you don’t have one, using the words “knowledgable” or something similar works as well.
Putting It All Together
Now, you need to put all of it together. First, divide your resume into sections, so that the reader can easily identify where you have experience and what you have accomplished. Second, find a formatted template or some other system of organization. Using templates on Google Docs and Word is great way to make a simple, clean resume. But if you are more skilled in design, use Canva or Photoshop to make you resume more visually appealing.
Finally, be cautious of and brutal with what does or does not make the cut. While it can be tempting to include every single activity you have ever participated in, keep in mind what’s important to you and what helps the reader better understand you. Aim to create a document that is only one page because it needs to be able to catch your reader’s eye and because you never know if your reader will remember to flip the page over.
Building a high school resume is essential for your future opportunities. Your resume should be short, informative, organized, and most importantly, it should show future employers why you are qualified and what you can bring to the table. As a high school student, you might not have a lot to work with, but if you are able to present yourself succinctly and convincingly, many opportunities for growth will come your way.