High School Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide
A resume can seem pointless when you're still in high school. You likely imagine a stuffy document with many impressive job titles and bulleted lists of important milestones at those impressive careers as long as your arm -- banish that image.
The best resumes are no more than a page and are carefully worded to show off your strongest attributes. We all have to start somewhere, and your high school career (yes, career) has just as many important moments to document. It's just a matter of identifying them. We'll walk you through how to write a high school resume now.
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Why Do You Need a High School Resume?
Having a resume in high school can help you in several ways. Here are a few examples:
- For college applications
Many colleges and universities will require you to submit a resume as part of the application process. A well-crafted resume can showcase your achievements and help you stand out among other applicants.
- For scholarship applications
Scholarships also often require a resume when you apply for them. In this case, a strong resume will make you more competitive for scholarships.
- To help you land a part-time job or internship
If you want to apply for part-time jobs or internships, you'll definitely need a resume to present your skills, experiences, and qualifications in a professional manner.
- To help you prepare for the future
Having a resume in high school can help you start thinking about your future and the skills and experiences you'll need to be successful in your career.
Plus, once you create your first high school resume, you'll be able to edit it and build upon it as you gain more and more education and experience. After creating this first one, you might never need to build another resume from scratch.
What Should a High School Resume Look Like?
At its core, a resume is straightforward: it's a one-page document showcasing you and your story. Whether you're applying for your first job or your tenth, a scholarship or an undergraduate program, the idea of the resume stays precisely the same. You want to give the reader an idea of who you are and your general qualities.
High school resumes can include things like:
- Education (High School), including your GPA
- Volunteer Experience
- Additional Skills/Training
Your resume doesn't have to include all these sections, but you want the page to look balanced without just the right amount of white space. If you can't think of any awards or honors, then don't include that section. If you don't have any projects you're particularly proud of, then don't focus on that. It's all a matter of showing what you have accomplished.
The Different High School Resume Formats
There are different ways to present your information, but the most common resume formats are chronological, functional, and combination. We'll explain each of them now.
This format highlights your work and education history by listing them in chronological order at the top of the resume. This is the most common type of resume format you'll see. It is best for students with a strong work or education history.
This format strategically minimizes work history by putting skills front and center. After personal information, you'd immediately list your most relevant skills and accomplishments. Functional resumes are best for students with limited work experience or those transitioning to a new career.
This format combines elements of both the chronological and functional formats, showcasing skills, experiences, and work history. It is best for students who have a mix of both relevant work experience and skills.
Example of a High School Resume
Look at this example of a high school resume, and we'll break it down bit by bit below. But for reference, as you review the summary, our sample student worked in a hair salon during the summer and participated in her high school's creative writing club.
Sections on a High School Resume
Now let's discuss this resume from top to bottom.
Your name should be at the very top, in the largest text size. Your contact information should always be nearby and very visible. Include your phone number, email address, and your general location. You can put your full address if you want, but you only need the town and state you live in.
If you haven't already, now is an excellent time to make a professional email address. Make it some combination of your first/middle/last name, and tack on some numbers if necessary. You'll want to use this email on your resume when emailing potential employers and communicating with schools.
Objective or Summary
You can also choose to include an objective or summary. Sort of like a tagline; it lets the person reading know your primary goal. This can be very general, or you can change it based on where you're submitting your resume.
Experience or Activities
The following section should be one of two options: either your high school information or your most recent job/internship experience. A quick tip for determining which to choose is to determine what is more relevant to your application and/or rank the importance.
In this resume, for instance, if they were applying for a job at a different salon, that work experience should be put first since it's the most relevant. On the other hand, if the job was for an internship at a publishing company, the high school information should go first, followed by the Activities section.
So, the first two things you should ask yourself are:
- Why am I making this high school resume?
- What will showcase my abilities for them the best?
Once you've determined what's most important, we can build your resume around it. Let's assume that your high school information is going first and build from there. For the high school section of your resume, include the full name, the town of your high school, and the expected graduation date. Next, include your GPA if it's a 3.0 or above, and then highlight any special courses you take; AP, Honors, and Dual Credit are great to document.
Next, is your job or activities experience more relevant? If, like in the example, it's your activities, then that should be your next section. Finally, what do you do other than go to school -- and don't say "nothing." You don't power down after the final bell rings and automatically restart right before the first hour.
Do you play a sport? Participate in a theater? Are you part of a club or organization? All those activities you listed in your head in response to those questions are bullet points on your high school resume. List them all, your position, and the duties that accompany it. If you're a group member, don't forget that attendance, participation, and dedication are always worth mentioning.
Skills, Hobbies, & Additional Information
Finally, no one expects a high school student to have extensive (if any) work experience. What they are expecting is to glean some insight into who you are. For example, if you've worked at the local cafe for a year, they can tell you're responsible and likely have good customer service skills. On the other hand, if you've been on the school soccer team for three years, they know you're dedicated and follow through on commitments.
There are a lot of ways to show your personality, and here are a few you may not have thought of:
- Mowing lawns
- Pet sitting
- Participating in church functions
- Community service
- Having your own blog/Youtube channel
- Popular social media accounts
You can choose to list some skills to highlight specific bits about your resume. Typically, you'll want to use a mix of soft and hard skills. Soft skills aren't easily measurable. Examples include being a good listener, engaging in small talk, or getting along with others. Hard skills are measurable, such as words per minute when typing or the ability to use a program, such as the Adobe suite.
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Additional Tips for Formatting Your High School Resume
The most important takeaway when formatting your resume is to keep it clean and simple. Less is more in this case. But some specific tips for a visually appealing and easy-to-read resume include:
- Use a clean and professional font such as Arial or Times New Roman.
- Use bullet points and clear headings to break up the text and make it easy to read.
- Use white space to make the resume easy on the eyes.
- Use consistent formatting throughout the resume.
- Use minimal color, if any, and ensure it doesn't detract from the words.
- Use action verbs to describe the experiences and achievements.
- Be concise and keep the resume to one or two pages.
Free High School Resume Templates
You can find several great, free templates that are easy to work with for your high school resume. They're already formatted and are generally accepted resume shapes, so it's good to start with those. We like the resume templates recommended by the Muse. They also have additional advice on creating stand-out resumes.
Of course, if you want to take your resume to the next level, you can save it as a PDF. That ensures the document can't be changed, and the reader doesn't have to see any spell-check lines for words that look misspelled but aren't. For instance, the odd street name will appear on a Google or Word document looking as if it's misspelled.
As for the text, keeping your resume simple and clean is a good rule of thumb. The example above is a Google Docs template, which can be found in the Resume section. This one is called "Serif."
Ready to Create Your High School Resume?
Half of the battle of writing your resume is just sitting down and putting it all together. Then, you can edit and update it from there. When writing your resume, be proud of your accomplishments and advocate for yourself. After all, you want the earn the job/internship/scholarship, so show that you deserve it! We're cheering for you.
You're on top of things! But... have you made your college list yet?
Creating a high school resume is a wonderful first step as you prepare for college. The next step? Building out a college list to keep track of the schools you're interested in.