It’s a problem nearly as old as work itself, in order to get a job, you need to have previous work experience.
Yet, how can you get previous work experience without a job?
While it’s a dilemma that can affect people of all ages during their careers, the problem can be particularly difficult for high school students and younger applicants, who focus most of their time on school and extracurricular activities.
So, how can a high school student write a resume with little or no work experience?
The great news is that it isn’t impossible.
In this article, we’ll look at producing a killer high school resume – tips and examples for doing that – and how to send a potential employer the right messages.
How to Write the Perfect High School Resume
So, how does a high school student write a compelling, engaging, and professional resume when they have little to no formal work experience?
We’ll guide you through the steps to creating your very first resume.
This resume will help you land your first job or internship, so read through this guide carefully!
Entice the Employer with a Resume Summary Statement
All too often, employers receive applications with little or no professional work history.
However, deciding which applicants to invite for an interview and which applications to discard can be difficult for even the most experienced of employers.
However, the truth is you don’t absolutely need an extensive work history to compile a great resume.
One relatively simple way to make your resume more compelling and enticing to any employer is by including a resume summary statement.
If we go back to basics, the primary purpose of a resume is to help you land an interview.
It’s not designed to land you a job all on its own, but a well thought out example can open the door.
Understanding that your resume is there to help you to land an interview can make crafting your summary statement a whole lot easier.
Your summary statement is the place to state your career goals and to explain what you want to achieve.
As you’re currently in high school, the resume summary section should be used to express who you are and what you want to gain out of a job – because that’s the best way to sell yourself to a potential employer when you don’t have a whole bunch of past experience to list.
Although it may be challenging to determine what you want, you should keep in mind that honesty and determination are two factors that any employer will appreciate.
Simply indicating your desire to work and to gain experience can do wonders.
Not only that, but compiling a great resume that conveys your enthusiasm and willingness can go a long way to landing an interview invitation.
It’s Time to Decide Upon a High School Resume Format That Works Best for You
When it comes to writing a high school resume, most times, you won’t have the option to include much past experience.
That’s why arguably, format matters even more for school leavers who are looking to gain employment.
While you’ll want to go for a resume format that is clean and modern, you don’t want to choose one that will lead to an excess of white space.
As a high school student with limited experience, we recommend going with a functional, easy-to-read layout.
Currently, there are three main types of resume formats.
The first is the reverse chronological resume.
This format places emphasis on current and previous work experience, beginning from most recent to oldest.
It’s the most commonly used resume around and probably what you’ve been picturing in your head.
The second type is the functional resume format.
Career professionals more often use this layout because it places more of an emphasis on skills and achievements.
The functional resume format does not focus so much on work experience, allowing a user’s skillset to shine.
The third resume format we’re going to discuss is the hybrid format.
The hybrid format is a mix of both the reverse chronological and functional formats.
It’s a more versatile format, which is most often used by professionals looking for a career change.
Focus on Your Education
While high school isn’t necessarily the most enjoyable of all experiences, it is a time where you are actively engaged in learning and pursuing an education.
So, you should definitely put that education to use!
As we’ve already learned, many employers are looking for students who are motivated and determined.
By showcasing your education, you can highlight your successes and achievements for a potential employer.
In addition, you should place a focus on your previous and current coursework.
That’s going to mean listing out the courses you’ve completed, drawing particular attention to any that you believe will make you a better employee.
Examples can include accounting, economics, or business classes.
Don’t Discount Extracurriculars
A recently conducted poll found that around half of US secondary students participated in school sports, and 40% were involved in arts or other various club activities during the 2018-19 school year.
One thing that doesn’t change when you swap school for the workplace – both colleges and employers love to see well-rounded, holistic applicants.
That means you should look to mention any extracurriculars which you were a part of.
Better still, if you had a position of leadership in one of those clubs, be sure to make a mention of it.
Extracurriculars look particularly good if you have a leadership position, be that being the captain of the basketball team or the president of the student council, be sure to list out the club, your title, and what your primary focus, duties, and responsibilities were.
Extracurriculars are a great way to showcase your involvement in your school and the community.
They also indicate to employers that you are a well-rounded applicant capable of juggling multiple different duties and responsibilities and interacting productively with your peers.
When Writing a High School Resume, Don’t Discount Volunteer Work
A recent report says almost 2.8 million – or 28.5 percent – of US high school students above the age of fifteen annually volunteer nearly 237 million total hours to religious, educational, and other movements.
That represents approximately five billion dollars.
Listing volunteer work on your resume can be another great way to showcase your involvement in the community.
Volunteer work is a great way to get out and assist others, whether that’s through volunteering at a hospital, a local soup kitchen, or helping out at your local animal shelter.
Volunteer work, as with extracurricular activities, should be listed separately.
Doing so will give you ample time and space to list out all your individual roles and responsibilities.
Also, volunteer work can be a great way to get a professional reference.
If that’s an option for you, be sure to grab it with both hands because it sends a very positive signal to potential employers.
What Are Your Hobbies?
It’s important not to see a lack of experience as an insurmountable problem and to remain positive.
You’ve got to bear in mind; when you’re looking for work after leaving school, nobody is expecting a long list of past employers – that just wouldn’t make sense.
Hiring managers understand that high school students looking for entry-level roles will have less work experience than older, more seasoned applicants.
However, they like to see high school applicants with some life experience, which means they look for a broad range of activities and hobbies.
So, it’s always an excellent idea to list out your hobbies on your resume.
Tell the prospective employer what you like to do during your downtime.
You can list out your hobbies within a miscellaneous section.
That section will allow you to discuss your hobbies, interests, and random facts that might help provide the employer with a more rounded view of who you are as a person.
Conclusion: Making the Most of What You’ve Got
Writing a high school resume with little to no work experience doesn’t have to be complicated.
Employers understand that high school students will have less formal work experience than their more seasoned and older, applicants.
However, high school students should place emphasis on the life experience they do have.
That can include previous and current coursework, volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, and even hobbies.
- Remember to include your best personality traits – especially if they’re relevant to the role
- Let your potential employer know about any computer skills you have
- Don’t forget to detail any internships you’ve participated in
Also, remember to fill out that resume summary we learned about earlier.
That’s your opportunity to explain to a potential employer precisely why you want this position and what your future goals are.
It’s also a chance to expand on both your resume and cover letter in a unique way.
Doing so will help you convey more about who you are and is very likely to make you a more compelling applicant.