Learn All Year Long
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Writing a First Resume
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Activity Time||Two to three hours (can be done over several days)|
- Access to a computer with word processing software and an Internet connection
- Sample Resume Websites
- Suggested Online Student Resume Resources
- Resume Action Words Handout
- Resume Peer Review Guide
Getting Started: Writing a General Resume
- When teens express interest in seeking a job (or perhaps even before that point), brainstorm with them all of the activities and jobs they have done in the past. Remind teens to include education, jobs, volunteer activities, club activities, memberships, special skills/talents, and other interests they have. Have them make a list of these experiences so they start seeing how a resume might take shape.
- Spend some time with teens looking at sample resumes online using the Sample Resume Websites to get an idea of what a resume should look and sound like. Discuss with teens what jobs these resumes are prepared for, what categories the resumes include, how the resumes look (how they are formatted and in what order they list information), and what action words (words and phrases used to describe the specific jobs/duties a person had or performed while working for an business or organization) the resumes use to describe the tasks completed. If possible, discuss with the teens your own experiences with resume writing, including sharing your most current resume.
- Using word processing software on a computer, work with the teens to develop their own general resumes using the brainstorming notes created earlier. Teens may choose to use a resume template available in the word processing software or may choose to create their own resume designs. Return to sample resumes for ideas on how to design the resume and place the information on the page.
- Review with teens the Resume Action Words Handout. Discuss what action words or phrases may work with the their resume and create a list of other action words and phrases that describe their work in their jobs and volunteer activities. Compare these words to the bulleted items in the teens' resumes and discuss ways the they could strengthen the action words on their resumes.
- Spend time with teens reviewing resume help websites online using the Suggested Online Student Resume Resources handout. Discuss what types of help these resources offer. For example, what does each site say about how to create a resume? What do these sites say make an effective or ineffective resume?
- Return to the teens' resumes. Based on the resources you just explored, discuss with them what they are doing well in their resumes. Encourage teens to decide what they could do to improve the resumes based on what they learned from the help resources.
- If desired, teens should share their resume with a peer or an adult to receive feedback about their design and content. They may use the first page of the Resume Peer Review Guide to do this. Or, if you have contacts in the business or volunteer community, seek feedback from someone who works with resumes on a regular basis.
Ready to Apply: Tailoring the Resume to a Job Posting
- After teens have created the general structure for their resumes, they may also choose to tailor their resumes to a specific job ad. They can search for job ads by looking in their local newspapers (print or online) or by using online search tools like Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com.
- After teens find a job ad that speaks to their interests and skill levels, review with them how the ad describes the position and what qualifications an applicant must have. Help teens find and underline key phrases in the ad that speak to their skills, experiences, and interests.
- Brainstorm with teens how they could write an objective statement (the statement found at the top of a resume which provides a brief description of the author's talents and the position he/she hopes to achieve) and action word phrases that connect with the underlined phrases in the job ad and that show the employer that they are qualified for the job.
- Have teens return to their resumes and include these phrases in appropriate places under each job or volunteer section of the resume.
- Teens may choose to share this tailored resume with a peer or an adult to receive feedback on their choice of action words and phrases. They may use the second page of the Resume Peer Review Guide to do this. Or, if you have contacts in the business or volunteer community, seek feedback from someone who works with resumes on a regular basis.
- Many entry-level jobs require an application (sometimes online) rather than a formal resume. Discuss with the teen how the information from the resume can be useful preparation for completing online applications, as well as for interviews after the resume or application makes a favorable impression.
- Teens may also create a resume for their dream job of the future. Researching jobs in their future profession may help students learn what education and skills they will need to have in order to be successful in that career.
- Teens may review family members' and friends' resumes and practice giving them feedback based on what they learned about effective and ineffective resumes.
- Teens can blend their real-life skills with their interest in pleasure reading by writing resumes for fictional characters in their favorite books.
Discussion is a natural way for children and teens to express or explain what they already know or what they are learning. When possible, let children and teens lead the direction of a discussion. Ask questions that lead to an extended response (“What do you think about…?” or “Why do you think…?”) rather than questions that might result in a yes or no or a simple answer.