While no employer will expect a teenager to have an amazing amount of experience, don’t underestimate the importance of having an effective resume. Once you have a sense of what you might want to do for a job, it’s time to start focusing on some practical matters.
Your resume is a first impression.
A quick glance at a resume will make an immediate impression on an employer. It can tell a potential employer whether or not you:
- Take pride in producing good-looking work
- Pay attention to detail
- Are proficient in the latest software technology
Typos, spelling errors, and formatting inconsistencies will raise immediate questions about your ability to do work without constant supervision and correction.
Be honest about your skills and experiences.
Given that your job experiences may be limited, it can be tempting to make your jobs sound more impressive than they really were. If you have real accomplishments, great, but be sure that you are truthful on your resume.
For example, if all you can do is enter data and create a few simple formulas, you’re better off saying that you’re “familiar with” Excel, not proficient.
Your resume should reflect what is most important to a hiring manager.
A resume is full of facts about you. However, an important step in creating a resume is to look at it from the point of view of a potential manager. Make sure that everything on your resume serves a purpose. The goal is to help a hiring manager see how your background connects with a positive attitude.
Be ready to talk about anything on your resume.
Don’t put things on your resume simply because they sound impressive. Include your activities that show the employer that you’re a well-rounded person with extracurricular interests and intellectual curiosity.
However, you’d better be ready to talk about anything that’s on your resume. For current events, you might get asked about political unrest in Syria.
Flunking this test will raise immediate questions about the credibility of anything that you say.
Line up your references before you start your job search.
It’s not unusual for employers to ask for references before hiring. Basically, they want to have the contact information—phone and e-mail address—of a few people that can describe you as a person, employee, or student. If you have never held a long-term job before, you can ask a favorite teacher for a reference as well.
The big mistake that many teens make here is failing to plan ahead. Before your resume goes to anyone, get the permission of three to five adults (not peers) who can talk about your character, intelligence, skills, and experiences. Ideally, you would have at least one person from each of these three categories:
- Current or former employment supervisor
- Current or former teacher or coach
- Family friend who has known you for many years
Most importantly, don't forget to be confident in your skills, be professional, and let your real personality shine through.