Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.
A resume is a very important piece of the puzzle when people look for jobs, even for teenagers. Employers don't expect teens to have a resume, so those teens that do can easily jump to the top of the application pile. Employers usually have immediate respect for a teenager who has taken the trouble to write out a formal resume. But not just any resume will do. The best resumes are those that have some experience and skills on them.
If you are a teen reading this, you may be feeling like you have never had a job, so you don't have any skills or experience. Not true at all. In the next few paragraphs, I will outline some of the skills you already have or could easily obtain, to add to a resume.
The first thing you need to do is start early. Generally speaking, employers are only interested in what you've done in high school and beyond. An award you got in the fifth grade is not going to hold much weight. So, as soon as you enter high school, start building experiences and skills for your future.
Skills You May Have or Can Easily Get
It is helpful to add skills that you already have on a resume. And if you find that you don't have any skills from the list below, start taking classes or ask your friends to teach you how to do some of these activities.
Child Care (Babysitting)
If you have babysat for children more than a handful of times, you have childcare skills. You have probably read stories to children, supervised their play, played games with them, maybe made them meals, etc. These skills will be invaluable if you are trying for a job in a daycare center or at a camp or summer recreation program. An added bonus is if your town offers a babysitting course through the local recreation department, make sure to take it. It will give you more credibility on your resume.
Have you taken care of people's pets in your neighborhood or in their families when they went away? It probably involved responsibilities such as feeding, walking, or cleaning out cat litter boxes. These are all great skills to have. This will be very helpful to you if you are applying for a job at a pet store, kennel, doggie daycare facility, or veterinarian's office.
If you have mowed lawns for family, friends, neighbors, then you have landscaping experience. Usually, any type of lawn care work has involved mowing, weeding, trimming, raking leaves, and maybe even shoveling snow. These are all great examples of landscaping skills and can help you get a job with a summer landscaping company, fall clean up company, or a ride-along person when winter comes . . . you can shovel while the plow driver takes care of the driveway.
If you are a high school student, you must at least know how to use Microsoft office. If you have had to do projects using Excel, or Powerpoint, you have skills in all components of Microsoft Office, and if you only know how to use one or two of those, you can list them separately, such as "Proficient in Microsoft Word."
Again, if you are a high school student, you probably know how to type. If your high school offers a keyboarding class, it's a good idea to take it, so you will be more valuable to a future employer. If you can find out how many words you type per minute, that is very helpful as well. Anyone can say they type, but if you have good skills in that area and can prove it to an employer, that is invaluable.
Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator
Many teens today have skills in these applications, and they can prove to be helpful to you if you advertise these skills on a resume. You may apply for a job where the employer has been looking for someone to update the company website with pictures but doesn't have the time to do it himself.
Certification in CPR or First Aid
These skills are very valuable, but make sure to keep the licenses current. These two are helpful for anyone working with the public today. An employer will feel good about hiring you for the protection of his customers.
Taking a class to become a lifeguard will help you get jobs throughout your high school and college career. And if you decide after college to get a job with summers off, such as teaching, there will be plenty of openings every summer just waiting for you.
Can you speak a second language? Many youths in the U.S. today have come from other countries, or live in homes where their parents speak a second language. If you know another language other than English, make sure to put it down on your resume. This includes sign language. Your skills in this area can be helpful to interpret what a customer is asking, or in explaining store or company policy to a customer from the employer's standpoint.
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Cooking or Baking
If you know how to cook or bake, and especially if you have taken classes in it, this is a very useful skill to add to a resume. At the high school I work at, there is a small restaurant that is open to the public. Senior students can take a restaurant management class where they gain experience in developing menus, cooking large quantities of food, and waiting on tables. This is an invaluable experience for anyone wanting to work in a restaurant, or as a cook for a hotel, hospital, or company cafeteria.
Have you helped out by cleaning at home, or for an elderly neighbor or relative? These skills are helpful to you if you are interested in cleaning as a job in high school or even college. Many hotels in tourist areas are looking for maids in the summer. Also, some companies hire people to just work a few hours each night to clean offices. This is the perfect job for a student who goes to school during the day and has evenings free for a part-time job.
A teen can learn proper phone etiquette by helping out at their parent's office in summer, or a family friend who has a business and will let you learn phone skills, etc. Also, there are many social service agencies who would welcome some part-time receptionist help so if you want to hone skills in this area, call a non-profit agency and ask if you can
If you like making movies, hone your videotaping skills by taking a class at your high school, or volunteer to help videotape school sporting events. Also, many cable companies offer classes for public TV, so once you have taken the class, you can actually air your own show on your local cable station. In my town, there are some unique shows on, from a puppet show to people singing all alone with their guitars. BUT you have to take the class first.
If you like photography and are pretty good with a camera, there is a world of possibilities open to you. You can use your skills to take pictures of products for a company, or help individuals sell products on eBay. Also, you may be able to show your work to a wedding photographer and be hired as an assistant on weekends for weddings. If you like photography, but feel you aren't very good at it, take a class if your high school offers it, or sometimes the Adult Enrichment programs in a town offer photography programs for people ages 16 and up and it might be available to you.
Hopefully, after reading this list, you will realize you have skills that you didn't know you had that are valuable to employers. I will continue with what else is needed to build a resume for teens in another article.
- Teen Resumes: Start Building Them Early, Part 2
Teen resumes should include extra-curricular activities a teen has participated in, as well as community service and awards. This article gives examples in each category.
- Job Interview Tips For Teens
Helpful interview tips for teens looking for jobs. Includes possible interview questions you may be asked, and questions you can ask during interviews.
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
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on March 05, 2012:
I am glad you found it helpful. There is a part 2 to that article as well. Have you read that?
Lisa Kroulik from North Dakota on March 05, 2012:
This is very timely. I skimmed it and bookmarked it for use in a few months when my 15 1/2 year old daughter searches for her first summer job. I was just going to post a question about this!
Dianna Mendez on February 28, 2012:
This article is also useful for college students compiling their first resume. They often do not realize all the great experience they already have acquired that employers find useful. Great hub topic and you made it enjoyable.
Christine on February 28, 2012:
I thought this article is s great start to a book! I also plan to pass it on to my co-workers!
Lizam1 on February 28, 2012:
I will pass this on to teens. Thanks.