Even for summer jobs, teens should craft a resume
The teenage girl who shadowed Theressa A. Green wanted a job at a summer camp. She had some work experience, as a babysitter and veterinarian's assistant, and she had volunteered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
To make potential employers aware of these activities, the teen needed a professional résumé, and Green was happy to guide her through the process of creating one. "She didn't have the language. She said, 'I'm a people person. And I can type fast,' " recalled Green, who works for the Boys & Girls Clubs as teen services director of character and leadership development.
Together, they put together a résumé with business-like wording, showing how her experience indicated dependability, initiative and an ability to hold a job.
Even with a tough job market for teens, many don't think they need a résumé for their summer job search. "A résumé is important. . . . It is the first introduction to the employer," Green said. "This is the time to put your best foot forward . . . to really put yourself on paper."
It's also important to start learning job-search skills, including how to create a résumé, before you undertake a crucial career search in your early 20s.
Creating a first résumé may seem daunting, and most teens will need a parent or other adult's assistance, said Carol Christen, co-author of "What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens" and a career strategist based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The résumé-creation process can be made less daunting by breaking it down into smaller steps and allowing one to two weeks of intermittent work to capture a complete picture of yourself, she said.
Start asking yourself and others questions such as: "What do you think are my key talents and strengths that will help me get a job?" and "What have I done with my time?"
"Think of the radio station WLPR -- Work, Learning, Play or free time, and Relationships," Christen said. If you were volunteer co-chair of an Earth Day event, for example, ask yourself: How did you organize the event? What did you learn? What were your strengths?
Your résumé should answer other questions, too: What am I good at? What do I have to offer an employer?
Christen suggests that young people develop at least two résumés. The first is a master résumé -- everything about yourself on paper in logical sections. The next one is tailored to the type of job sought. "What am I using my résumé for? Adapt it for that purpose," Christen said. A creative résumé with some color or a bold border may help make it stand out. So could some unusual fonts.
"If you want to get noticed in today's market, you've got to have something that pops," said Bettie Biehn, owner of Career Change Central in Alexandria and the former lead résumé writer for JobFox. She has helped her niece and some neighborhood youths with their résumés and thinks that little icons or visuals, or even a small logo or sketch, could jazz up some résumés.
Other things that will make you stand out are leadership roles in high school and college, such as captain of the football team, volunteer awards or your role establishing new clubs. Sometimes those awards are grouped near the bottom of a résumé, but sometimes they belong right up top, below your name, address and contact information.