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How to Write Your First Resume

Updated on July 1, 2011

Why Some Teens Get Jobs and Others Don't

So you want to get an after school job, and you've figured out how to fill out a job application, but it seems like you've filled out a million applications and nobody's called you for an interview. To add insult onto injury, your friends are snapping up jobs left and right and some of them have even landed jobs at places where you submitted an application.  How come they're getting hired and you aren't?

Chances are, they took the time to write a resume, one that explains why they are the best candidate for the job.  They might not have work experience, but the resume gave them an edge because it gives the employer information about the candidate that an application can't capture. Things like volunteer work, membership in organizations, relevant hobbies and skills, and even grade point average are all things you can include on a first resume that might catch an employer's eye.

What to Include on a First Resume

A simple first-time resume may include the following sections:

Your name
City, State, zip
Phone Number
Email address







Building Your Resume

Your Contact Information

At the top of the page, list your full name, your street address, city, state, zip code, phone number, and email address. Bold your name, so that it catches the eye. Be sure to list the phone number at which it is best to reach you, and email address that you check most often. You can center this information at the top of the page, or offset it to the left or right margin.

Your Objective

Next, you want to list the Objective for your resume. An Objective is what type of job you are looking for. Some examples:

OBJECTIVE: Seeking part-time employment after school and weekends in the food service industry.

OBJECTIVE: Looking for weekend employment as a child care provider to school-aged children.

OBJECTIVE: Seeking after-school employment in the service industry.

The OBJECTIVE section may be tailored to each job you are applying for, while the rest of the resume stays the same. Alternatively, if the jobs you are applying for are substantially the same in that they are all in the same industry, such as food service or customer service, you can write a somewhat generic OBJECTIVE statement such as the last example. Do state that you are looking for part-time or after school employment if that is your main objective, so that the employer doesn't assume you are seeking a shift that conflicts with your classes. Be sure to bold the word OBJECTIVE.

Your Experience or Skill Set

If you have any paid work experience at all, list it in this section. Or, if you have no work experience, list your skills and, if you can, how you got them. Always list your experience from current to past. For example:

      Server, The Chuck Wagon Restaurant, 1/5/2009 - 6/30/2009
          Served restaurant guests, explained daily specials. 
          Also worked catered events.

       Front-line cashier, Handy Hamburgers, 6/1/2008-12/5/2008
          Ran cash register and took orders at busy restaurant.
          Selected employee-of-the-month three months in a row.

      Nacho sales, Oktoberfest, Chico Community Park, 10/14/2011
          Volunteer booth worker for community Oktoberfest.
          Handled cash, sold nachos.

      Children's Hospital Volunteer(1/2009-12/2009)
          Good people skills, self-motivated, self-directed, 
          tolerant, flexible.
      Girl Scouts(9/2001 - present)
          Good organization, communication, critical thinking,
          decision-making,leadership,and planning skills. 
          Team player, flexible and tolerant.

Your Achievements

In this section, list relevant academic or skill-centric awards or honors. You shouldn't list all of your Little League trophies, and you should keep it fairly current. In other words, if you are a high school student, you probably shouldn't list awards you received in early middle school, unless it was something few people rarely achieve, (For example, if you were a National spelling bee champ, you should probably list it. ) Some examples:

     Hoover High School Honor Roll 2010, 2009, 2008
     Chico State Science Fair 1st Place 2009

     Girl Scout Silver Award Recipient 2010

     National Jr Golf Tournament 2nd Place 2009

Your Activities

This is a good section to list your after-school or extra-curricular activities, provided that they are relevant to the job. If you feel that you have activities that have given you leadership skills or a better perspective about who you are as an individual, then by all means, include them here. Some examples:

     Chico High ASB President 9/2009-6/2010
     Chico High ASB Secretary 9/2008-6/2009

     Chico High Water Polo Captain 9/2008-present

     Girl Scouts 9/2001-present

Your Education

In this section, list your schools in order from current to past. You need not include elementary schools, but if you are in high school, you might want to include your high school(s) and middle school(s). If you are in college, you can go back to high school, but leave out middle school.

Your References

List at least two references, though most employers prefer three. You want to be able to include their name, address, phone and email.

Employer Pet Peeves About Resumes and Job Applications

Employers are in business to be successful, and they want to surround themselves with people who will help to make that happen. That means that they won't hire you if you give even the slightest hint that you are sloppy, careless, inconsiderate, of poor character, or lazy. The first, most immediate tool that employers have to determine if you have any of these traits is your resume and your job application. They look at both big and small things, so be sure you check the details. Things employers look at include:

Basic grammar and spelling - If you don't take the time to check these things, an employer wonders what you'll be like to work with. How many other things won't you do?

Text speak - This goes along with basic grammar and spelling, but text speak is becoming more and more prevalent on job applications, and most employers aren't happy to see it. Spell out words completely - no "ur" instead of "your," "you're" or "you are." Capitalize appropriately, show employers you have a good command of language. They may have hundreds of applicants to look at, and if they have to take extra time to simply decipher text speak on a resume or job application, most likely they will simply pass and move to the next applicant.

Funny Business - There is a difference between showing that you have a positive, upbeat attitude, and coming across as if you are treating your application and resume as a joke. Refrain from making overly dramatic statements, bad jokes, puns, or "ironic observations" on your resume or application. Chances are, the employer has already read it, seen it, or observed it.

Too Much Information - When you have no job experience, it is tempting to try to fill a resume with irrelevant information. You need to find a balance of information that helps to show an employer that you have the right attitude, educational background and skills to be a fit to his or her business. Leave out overly personal information such as height, weight, relationship status, religion, political viewpoint and even your exact age. Listing your hobbies might be relevant if the job involves a hobby of yours that you are skilled at.

Putting It All Together

Now that you know what the basic sections are for a first-time resume, put it together in a well-formatted, spell-checked, grammar-checked fashion. It might look something like this:

Emily deResume
12345 Main Street
Hometown, CA 91111

OBJECTIVE: Seeking part-time employment after school and weekends 
           in the food service industry.


      Children's Hospital Volunteer(1/2009-12/2009)
          Delivered meals, talked with patients and families. 
          Good time management skills, people skills,
          Friendly and courteous. 
      Girl Scouts (9/2001 - present)
          Good organization, communication, critical thinking,
          decision-making,leadership,and planning skills. 
          Team player, flexible and tolerant. 


         Chico High School Honor Roll 2010, 2009, 2008     
         Girl Scout Silver Award Recipient 2010


         Girl Scouts (2001-present)


         Chico High School
         123 Chico Road
         Hometown, CA 91111
         Chico Middle School
         456 Chico Road
         Hometown, CA  91111


         Mrs. Susan Perfect
         5555 Perfect Place
         Hometown, CA  91111
         (858) 555-5555
         Mr. Lutz Jump
         4321 Skating Road
         (858) 555-5555

Final Thoughts

Take some time to inventory your strengths and write a resume to help get the word out that you are the best candidate for the job. Remember to keep an upbeat attitude in your job search, seek out all sorts of businesses and ask for that job application. When you turn it back in, though, include a resume, because it just might give you the edge you need to get that job interview. Don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd.


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