21 Ways High School Students Can Improve Their Resumes
📑 The Importance of Resumes
What can a solid 😤 resume do for you?
- Helps you land a job or opportunity of your dreams
- Builds your personal/professional brand
- Acts as a signal as to why you're the best person for a job or project
What are the key 🔑 sections to have in a resume?
- Contact information (name, email, phone, address, LinkedIn, personal website)
- Work experience
- Awards, accolades, and certifications/licenses
- Skills and languages
Do you have any good templates 📑 to use?
- Once you reach the bottom of this webpage, you can create as many Fiveable-approved resume templates as you'd like with the click of a button!
Learn more about resumes with this guide on resumes and their importance.
☀️ General Resume Tips
Improve the overall feel of your resume!
You have less than a minute to show why you're the best applicant. Hone into what's important about your background and skillset.
2. Research, research, research.
Your materials should be tailored specifically to the company you're applying for. It'll show that you took time to research, understand problems the company is tackling, and why you're a value-add.
3. Keep your contact info professional.
Avoid email addresses that you may have created when you were 10 or using school emails. Create a personal Gmail account instead.
4. Don't include a headshot.
This is an easy way to prevent being discriminated against in case someone is having a bad day. It happens, especially to those who belong to historically underrepresented communities.
5. Always, always, always have someone review your resume.
If your friend in high school doesn't approve, chances are a hiring manager wouldn't, either. They might catch things that you may never notice.
💼 Work Experience and Community Service Section
Show your ability to solve problems and the impact you've made in previous roles!
1. List previous jobs that are relevant to the role you're applying for.
If you have no relevant experience, frame other responsibilities in a way that shows you're the best person for this role at this specific company. Think about transferrable skills.
2. Back up your work responsibilities with numbers.
While it's good to know what you did at previous jobs, what's more important is the impact that you made through what you were given. "I grew our TikTok following by 800% in 6 months and weekly engagement by 300% week-over-week." is much better than "Managed company TikTok channel." Quantify your achievements.
3. Avoid overcomplicating or using too much jargon.
Any number of people can look at your resume at different levels in the organization. You want to be powerfully concise and make sure anyone can get through your file with ease.
4. Use action verbs, and check for grammar/spelling.
Make sure that you're able to communicate all of the hard work that you've done in a clear and concise way. Just googling 'resume action verbs' and inserting them in descriptions can help a resume reader understand at a glance what kind of work you're doing.
🏆 Education & Awards Section
How does your education play into your 'story'?
1. Avoid including your GPA.
Your GPA won't matter much outside of high school. Plus, it makes you look pretentious. It's all about experience these days—your score isn't what defines your value in the workplace.
2. Show off awards and accolades.
Flaunt your accomplishments. They are a clear symbol of your hard work and achievements, and they tell a better story than any random number would.
3. If you studied abroad, include it!
Any experience that takes you beyond your comfort zone should be highlighted. It shows guts and a desire to take on new challenges.
🖼 Layout & Design Tips
Resume design is important, but not in the ways you might think. Check out the tips below, as well as 6 tips for polishing your resume.
1. Hierarchy and order matter.
Show the most important information first, such as your work experience and relevant skills. Sort your experience in reverse chronological order, i.e your most recent experience should be listed first.
2. Don't use fancy fonts or colors.
The person reading your resume may have trouble reading it and may toss it aside if it's messy. Automatic resume filtering systems will also have trouble analyzing fancy font and colors, which may even result in your resume never being read by a real person. Avoid risking opportunities due to an inaccessible resume!
3. Avoid stuffing your resume.
You don't want to be that person with a million things on their resume in a 6px font size.
4. Stick with layouts that optimize for readability.
Avoid having too many columns or unnecessary sections, especially if you're applying for more traditional roles (e.g law or accounting).
5. Keep your resume to one page. Seriously.
Ain't nobody got time for anything longer than that—especially for a student! Limiting yourself to one page forces you to be concise and only keep the most core things you want to showcase!
💾 Files & Storage Tips
1. Track your job application submissions in a main spreadsheet.
Keep tabs on what jobs you applied to—it'll make it easier for you to follow up on. It'll also help you determine whether you applied to a company already or not. Some other fields include salary/wage, location, company name, company description, hiring manager, hiring manager contact info, application status, reflections & notes, to name a few.
2. PDF resumes only.
Avoid .docx, .jpg/png/gif, or any other file type that requires a specific app to open it. Fake file types beware: this isn’t a school assignment you’re late on submitting and you need to buy some time with. Chances are any file incompatibility will hamper your chances of landing a gig.
3. Include your first name & last initial in the file title along with the company name & role.
This not only shows some basic organizational abilities, but it'll also make it easier for the person to know exactly who you are before even opening the file. And it'll help if you forget to include your name on your resume for any reason.
4. Create different iterations of your resume for different roles and don't overwrite old ones.
One size does not fit all, nor will one resume work with all companies. Put in the effort to craft winning resumes and you'll see the improvement over time.
👇 Create Your Own Resume
Check out these high school resume templates and college resume template.