A Teenager’s First Resume – What To Put In It?

Teenager's first resume

So the school year is ending and competition for those holiday jobs is hotting up. Your teenager is old enough now to search for their own casual or part- time job. Wow, how did that happen, right? So what do you put into your teenager’s first resume?

Most teenagers are applying for retail assistant, hospitality, babysitting, and low skilled manual work.

Here are our thoughts on what many employers look for in these roles:

Retail Assistant:
• Stocking shelves: physical fitness, orderly, tidy, clean, can work at a fast and accurate pace and maturity (i.e. not being silly when left unattended).

• Point of sale (working on a register): social, friendly, bubbly, efficient, able to handle complaints and grumpy customers, able to count money and change, attention to detail, concentration, able to stand up for long periods of time, bag packing.

Taking orders, serving customers, politeness, speed, cleanliness, able to handle money, wiping down tables, doing dishes, standing on feet for long periods etc

Reliability, sensibility, likes children, first aid, working with children check, fun, can handle an emergency, and trustworthy.

All of these roles also require punctuality, honesty, maturity and a willingness to work hard and do their best each and every roster.

So think about the skills your teenager may already have that could be relevant to a potential work role.

As you both stare at the blank piece of paper you think: “what the hell can we write?”. As your son or daughter is only beginning their working life, there seems nothing relevant to write down!

But our teenagers need a resume, despite having no work history to list.

Firstly, employers don’t expect pages and pages from a person this age. What they do look for is honesty and potential, and they expect the resume to ‘show’ who the applicant is.

Some basic things to include in the first resume include:

• Name, address and date of birth
• Email and contact phone number (make sure there is voicemail on it so a caller can leave a message!)
• Eligibility to work in Australia (e.g. Australian resident etc.)

Many professional resumes have a career objective paragraph. This generally falls after the name, and contact details. Even teenagers can have this.

Explain (in their words) why your child wants the part-time job and how it links to their long-term career goals. For example: “I hope to go to University to study medicine. I would like to work part time as a retail assistant to hone my people skills, so that I become an great patient-oriented doctor who can relate well to all kinds of people”.

Next, note your child’s availability – the days and hours they can or wish to work. For many casual and part time positions, this is a critical piece of information, so take care to lay out availability in a clear and easy to follow fashion.

The subjects they study at school will be of interest to a potential employer, along with a brief description of which ones are their favourites and why.

Where possible it’s also useful to link how their top subjects are relevant to the job they are applying for. For example, for a retail assistant and a student with a high maths grade might state: ‘My good mathematical ability and confidence with numbers means I am well suited to learn the cash register and perform the giving and receiving of change.’

If their maths isn’t strong but their English is, you might state: ‘My high English score means I’m confortable chatting and assisting with customers and helping them with their enquiries’. You see what we did there?

Every child has a strength whether it be friendliness, which translates to approachability in the workplace; reading, so they’re able to read and follow instructions well; or sport, where physical fitness and high energy helps an employee to stand all day etc.

Work with your child to identify their strengths and talents and highlight them throughout the resume as they apply to the role they wish to gain.

Volunteer work is often well regarded by employers as it shows their particular interests and talents, and in many cases demonstrates transferrable skills such as organising, cash handling, preparedness to work hard, working in a team and the like. Volunteering can include things like participation in fundraising events such as car washes, cake stalls, and charity fun runs.

Good written and verbal communication skills are important, as are planning skills and showing initiative. Perhaps your teen has demonstrated some of these qualities already by taking on roles such as a team, house or school captain.

Extra curricular activities like hobbies and sports also tell a lot about the student. Team sports help build the qualities required for future team work in the workplace, while gaming can demonstrate good computer and keyboard skills.

Hobbies may be able to demonstrate manual dexterity, ability to learn complex tasks quickly, or even simply a broad range of interests showing a persons’ willingness to have a go.

Don’t hesitate to explain how you see the activity links to a skill the employer may need. Connecting dots for a busy manager who reads hundreds of resumes (in about five minutes flat) isn’t cheeky, it’s helpful!

Last but not least: make sure spelling and grammar is correct and that there are no typos. Add page numbers if the resume is more than one page long. (It shouldn’t be more than two). Make multiple copies, present them in a folder and put your best foot forward when delivering them.

At Let’s Talk Career we specialise in assisting professionals and adults in their career growth and transition. Teenagers aren’t our client market, but as a community minded, Australian owned business (filled with genuinely caring career coaches), we are happy to help your kids get their working lives kicked off in a great way.

To further assist our clients of the future (because we specialise in helping mums and dads with their career), go to https://www.letstalkcareer.com/contact-us/ and write CLEARLY in the enquiry section that you would like us to email you our free ‘teenager suitable’ blank resume template. expect to receive this template within 3 days of sending your email. No strings attached. Merry Christmas.

Wishing your teenagers Happy Job Hunting!

Kris has over 20 years executive HR and executive coaching experience in Australian corporates. With a Masters Degree in Leadership, she works with senior executives to both improve their leadership performance and achieve greater career satisfaction.

Author: Kris

Kris has over 20 years executive HR and executive coaching experience in Australian corporates. With a Masters Degree in Leadership, she works with senior executives to both improve their leadership performance and achieve greater career satisfaction.

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