Skip to main content

Teen Resumes: Start Building Them Early

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

Resume example

Resume example

What to Include on Your Resume

In a previous article, I reviewed the skills many teens already have that they didn't even realize were skills. And I suggested that if they don't have them already, they can take a class or get experience with these skills fairly easily. The important thing is to build these skills early in high school so that by the time a teen turns 16 and is looking for a job, they will have information to actually put in a resume. The same suggestion goes for these next three categories: extracurricular activities, volunteering, and awards.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Extracurricular activities mean involvement in school activities outside of the regular school day. This could be anything from the following list:

  • Participate in sports: Most high schools have a variety of choices for sports teams. Anything from football to gymnastics will help you feel more involved in your high school and give you a boost of school spirit. Usually, students that participate on a team do better regarding grades because they need to keep their grades at a certain level to stay on the team. It can also help a student stay more organized because to be able to attend school, go to practice or meets/games, and get homework and studying done, it's best to stay on a schedule. Most athletes find that the regular schedule of practices after school helps them plan a routine for homework as well. Being part of a sports team helps teens learn how to work together, and future employers will find that skill valuable.
  • Join a club: High schools also have a plethora of clubs for students to join. If you have an interest in any of the clubs already at your high school, by all means, join at least one or more so you can expand your knowledge and interests in a certain area. If you have a particular interest, and there is not a club for that yet, go to the person in charge of after-school clubs and ask to start a club. That shows an employer that you are a leader and can take the initiative. This, again, is a very valuable skill in the workplace. If you can, run for office in one of the clubs that you join because this also shows leadership skills.
  • Join the student government: Whether it be representing your graduating class or the governing body of the school, student government is a great activity because, usually, it involves leadership. Again, an employer will be impressed with a teen who has leadership skills.

Community Service

Volunteer at your high school or in the community. Giving back to others takes some sacrifice and is always looked on positively by most adults, and especially employers. Examples of some ways you can volunteer at your school are as follows.

High School Volunteer Opportunities

  • Join the School's Volunteer organization, if there is one. If there's not, start one!
  • Volunteer to help in the school office, in a classroom on a regular basis, or help the gym teacher (usually called gym leader).
  • Participate in a Best Buddies program (nationwide program to pair regular education students with special ed students) or Reading Buddies (to elementary school children) if your school offers it.
  • Participate in at least one school fundraiser per year.
  • Be a peer tutor and help high school students in subjects in which you excel.
Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

Community Volunteer Opportunities

  • Walk for charity: There are many charity walks in communities, and they are usually listed in the local newspaper. For cancer, many communities participate in the Relay for Life, but there are also walks for the March of Dimes, Arthritis, ALS, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk, The American Heart Association, etc. Participate by collecting money and walking for any of these causes, and you will be volunteering.
  • Your Church: Many teens volunteer in their church nurseries to watch children so the parents can participate in the worship service. Or they clean the church or do lawn care services. Those are all volunteer activities and count as community service.
  • The Soup Kitchen: If your town has a local soup kitchen, volunteering to serve there or purchase and donate food would be a great community service.
  • The Hospital: This is especially helpful to teens who are already interested in health care as a future career. Most hospitals have summer programs where teens can volunteer to deliver flowers and magazines to patients or help with discharge.
  • The Library: If you love books and may be thinking of a career in library science, the local libraries love volunteers to help shelve books, read to children in the children's department, or work at the information desk.
  • Rehabilitation Center: Working with the elderly is not always an easy task but if you enjoy that population, teens and the older generation can learn a lot from each other. You can help out the recreation department by playing games and doing arts and crafts with the residents, do manicures, read to them, and be a listening ear as they tell you stories from their past which helps keep their minds sharp. Many residents don't have families nearby and therefore don't get many visitors so welcome visits from a young person.
  • Therapeutic Riding Center: If you like to be around horses and enjoy working with the disabled population, there are a lot of horse barns popping up now that have therapeutic riding programs where teens can walk next to a rider with a disability and help steady them if they start to slip or reassure them if they get scared. There are sometimes opportunities to lead the horse or clean stalls as well. If you like animals in general, you may be able to volunteer at an animal shelter, but for liability reasons, you may have to wait till you are 18.
  • Scouting Organizations, Such as the Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts: They do many types of community service year-round.

The best type of volunteer service for you is to find an organization that is connected to something you are interested in as a career choice. It will help you gain skills in that field, as well as do something for the community that you didn't get paid for.

Other Community Activities

Activities that will also look great on a resume are special interest activities that will be unique to someone's interests. These would be activities such as joining a fife and drum band, a community orchestra, community chorus, a dance team, 4H for teens interested in agriculture, the Young Marines, etc.

If you are running short on headings or activities to add to your resume, you can add Interests as a heading. Take a look at the activities you already do, and from there, you can gather a list of interests, such as music, photography, cooking, fundraising, health care, child care, animals, and any particular sports (list all the ones you are interested in), any type of photography/graphic design, any type of art that you like to do such as painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry making, knitting, sewing, etc. The purpose of interests or hobbies on a teen resume would be to show that you are a well-rounded individual and have an interest that may match something an employer is looking for.


Awards are helpful because it builds you up in an employer's eyes without your having to promote yourself verbally. If you are an honor roll student regularly, add it to your resume. If you have received any sports awards, especially for team spirit or the like, add them to your resume. Also include any awards you have won that have to do with your character, like an "Above and Beyond Award" or "Character Counts Award," etc. The future employer will know you are someone that other people at your school or in the community think highly of, and that in turn will help make a good impression in a possible workplace.

Supplementary Reading

  • Skills That Teens Can Add to Their Resume
    Teens need a resume if they hope to get a job in this bad economy. Many teens think they don't have skills but this hub outlines skills most teens already have such as computer, child care, typing, etc.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Karen Hellier

Related Articles