While plenty of resume advice is offered to adult professionals, learning how to boost your high school resume can be more challenging for the job seeking high school student.
As our blog recently reported, finding jobs for high school students isn’t easy. As of August 2011, the unemployment rate for teens was 24.5%—the highest all the U.S. demographic groups. Mix this together with a global economic slowdown and you’ll see why teens have it tough in the job market.
That’s why we’re offering 5 resume tips for secondary school students in this article. Keep reading to learn how you can boost your high school resume while improving your college application, too.
1. Take 4 years of a foreign language.
Many colleges have made 3 years of foreign language study mandatory, but it really will benefit you to take all the foreign language classes you can handle. Even at the high school level, knowledge of a foreign language can give you an edge over other applicants, especially if you speak a language that’s in high demand in the business world today.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the most popular languages internationally are Chinese, Spanish, English, and Arabic. We’re assuming you already speak English, so dive into one of the others to boost your high school resume.
2. Participate in extracurricular activities.
Taking part in extracurricular activities shows that you are motivated, well-rounded, and open to teamwork. These are skills that interest virtually all employers. Plus, you’ll be able to make new friends and network with classmates.
Extracurricular activities can be an especially effective way to boost your high school resume if you have a leadership position. So, once you learn the ins and outs, see if you can run for officer positions.
3. Keep your grades up.
Yes, it’s generally true that your high school grades won’t matter anymore after you finish your first semester of college. But, right now, your high school GPA is one of the best tools you have to showcase your motivation, diligence, and sense of responsibility to employers.
After all, why should an employer believe you will work hard at your job if you don’t work hard at school?
So, boost your high school resume by earning a GPA you will be proud to discuss at an interview, not to mention on your college application.
4. Ask teachers or even your principal to provide you with references.
OK, this isn’t technically a way to boost your high school resume, since you are not supposed to list references on your resume. However, you may be asked to provide references during an interview or while filling out an application, so they are important to have. This is especially true for high school students, who typically don’t have much experience yet.
High school teachers and principals make good references, since they tend to be established professionals. So, if you had a class you excelled in, or even just enjoyed a lot, ask your teacher if you can use them as a reference. It might take more effort to get close to your high school principal, but it’s usually possible. You might volunteer as an office aide for a semester or look for other opportunities to talk to your principal.
When someone agrees to be your reference, be sure to get their full name, title, e-mail address, office address, and phone number. They are doing you a big favor, so remember to thank them. A handwritten thank you note is always a great touch.
5. Volunteer in your community.
Volunteering provides you with valuable work experience and demonstrates your commitment to the community. Plus, colleges love applicants with volunteer experience.
Remember that landing a volunteer position isn’t always easy, however. As with jobs, some organizations make you pass an application process before being accepted, so it helps to have a great resume and up-to-date references.
Besides being a way to boost your high school resume, volunteering is also a serious responsibility, just like having a paid job. That why the College Board recommends asking yourself these questions before deciding to volunteer with an organization:
- How much time do I have to commit?
- Do I want an ongoing regularly scheduled assignment, a short-term assignment or a one-time assignment?
- Am I willing to participate in a training course?
- What talents or skills can I offer?
- What would I most like to learn by volunteering?
- What don’t I want to do as a volunteer?
- Do I want to work alone or with a group?
- With what kind of people do I want to work — both in terms of who is receiving my services and who my coworkers might be?
Keeping the above questions in mind and setting realistic expectations for yourself can make volunteering a more rewarding experience.
The bottom line on how to boost your high school resume…
Learning how to boost your high school resume basically comes down to making yourself attractive to employers without having a lot of work experience. Foreign language skills, extracurricular activities, good grades, quality references, and volunteer experiences really do matter at the entry level and beyond.
Remember, a hiring manager’s top priority isn’t to add up how many years you’ve worked. They want to determine whether you can do the job and are worth the risk of hiring. If you can make them answer “yes” to both questions, you have a good chance of getting your foot in the door.