For high school students with little or no work experience, creating a one-page document can seem like a daunting task. That 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper seems pretty expansive, regardless of the font size. However, I believe students with little or no work experience have the most to gain from creating a resumé.
Students should not hide a lack of work experience
Most of the entry-level, part-time positions students are applying for are filled with students with little or no work experience. A hiring manager does not expect a 16-year old to have a long list of work experiences and qualifications. So if a student has no work experience, what should go on that resumé?
The resumé gives students the opportunity to highlight strengths
The resumé allows students to dictate the conversation. Job applications request certain information in a specific order. If a student has little work experience but has skills or unique qualifications, a resumé gives that student the opportunity to bring those things to the attention of the resumé reader. Because a student can craft their resumé, they can put their strongest qualifications at the top of the document. As a result, the student can set the tone of the job interview.
The resumé creates an opportunity for a face-to-face discussion
As more and more job applications move online, job-seekers lose out on the opportunity to have a face-to-face introduction and discussion when job applications are turned in. A resumé is a great excuse for an applicant to introduce themselves to the person who will be reviewing applications. Therefore, a hand-delivered resumé accompanied by a short elevator speech identifying strengths and excitement for the opportunity is a tremendous way to stand out in the age of online job applications.
The job search is about standing out from the competition
Because most high school students don’t have a great deal of work experience, they tend to choose to not create a resumé. As a result, a well-constructed resumé is certainly a way for an applicant to stand out from the competition. Creating a resumé shows effort that wasn’t required, so students can demonstrate their willingness to go “above and beyond.”
What does an applicant with no work experience put on a resumé?
Students who do not have paid work experiences should be building skills and other experiences before (and during) the job application phase of the employment process. This can include volunteer work in the school or community. Volunteer work is an easy way to gain work experience, build skills, and network. Most communities have many opportunities for students to do volunteer work. Students could also gain experience by participating in skill-building opportunities through their school’s work program or helping in the cafeteria, library, office, or with custodians.
NextUp Lesson on Resumés
NextUp has a lesson that covers the resumé. That lesson also includes extension activities and resumé templates to make the process easier for students. To learn more about our video-based transition curriculum, browse our Curriculum Info page.
If you would like to experience a NextUp lesson, you can select a sample lesson on our Sample NextUp Lesson page. We encourage you to use that lesson with your students. If you have any questions about our curriculum, we would love to answer them for you via our Contact page.