Based on workshops and one-on-one sessions over the past few years with hundreds of students, we have compiled this list of tips specifically for high school students who are polishing up a resumé.
Check out our Resumé & Cover Letter page for more resources!
- Structure your resumé to the specific job you are applying for. From your “Objective” or “Profile” statement to choosing what content goes in each section, think of skills and experiences that you possess that will appeal to the potential employer.
- Do not undersell your high school experiences! Were you on the honour roll or in clubs, sports, music, or drama productions? Be sure to include this kind of content! Also, your elective courses often look great to an employer. If you are applying for a hands-on job, include courses like Industrial Arts, Home Ec., Drafting, or Welding. If you have taken any computer classes, list them! In fact, while we are on the subject…
- Technology skills are a HUGE asset! Tech is integrated into every business nowadays. Whether you have designed a simple game for your phone, or you have basic knowledge of coding, web design, and/or Google or Microsoft products, include these skills and experiences!
- Keep it concise. Many employers spend only 60 seconds reading your resumé. Except for an Objective statement, complete sentences should be saved for a cover letter. Each point in every section should only be a few words long so your skills stand out.
- “Skills” sections are tricky. “Skills” sections on your resumé are effective if you do not have a lot of work experience. List your top 5 or 6 hard and soft skills, and place the skills that relate most to the position you are applying for at the top of this section. As you gain more work experience, this section may become redundant so ask yourself if it is necessary.
- Format your resumé consistently. Spacing between sections, font size, how you list dates—be consistent with formatting so your resumé is readable and shows that you pay attention to detail.
- Include your best references. Include three people who will speak to your skills and character: teachers, coaches, supervisors, etc. If you have work experience, include at least one supervisor. One more thing, “References Available Upon Request” creates more work for the employer. Just put the names and contact information on there!
- Save multiple copies of your resumé. A master copy of your resumé can be updated from year-to-year with new skills, experiences, and references. When you apply for a new job, use only the information that is relevant to the new position. Also, when sending a digital copy to an employer, save your resumé as a PDF with your name in the file name. ex) “BobSmithResume.pdf”
- Technology should not do ALL of the work for you. If using an online template or resumé builder, think if there are other details you can add, and ensure that the formatting is consistent. Before you start, confirm that any product you use is free, otherwise you will get charged after putting in a lot of work.