Q & A: Tips for Teens’ First Resume


Last week, I shared about my day as fairy god-sister (I couldn’t quite get my head around being a god-MOTHER) for 200 teenage young ladies talking career at Queen of Anything. In keeping with the theme of Teen Career Talk, I’d like to share a question I received after speaking to a group of upcoming graduates:

Q: Jenn, thanks again for your wonderful presentation — it was so informative! Do you have any helpful tips for teens with no previous work experience who are writing their first resume? Thanks!
–Anna Rummel Tenenbaum

A: Anna, how nice to hear from you! My #1 piece of advice is: Focus on the skills you bring to the table.

Entry Level Resumes

For an entry level resume, you (your teen) may not have prior experience, so highlight the skills and personality traits that will be attractive to your target employer. It is a great idea to imagine yourself as an employer. Imagine paying money to someone—what traits and skills would be important in your employee? You’d want them to be reliable, right? That is a good trait to start with. Show that as an employee you will be reliable and will earn your paycheck!


Some traits will benefit almost any employer, regardless of the position. Here are a few:

  • Do you have a strong work ethic?
  • Are you always on time?
  • Can you work well with others?
  • Are you responsible?


Think about the skills you’ll need for your target position. If you’ll handle money, you’ll need math skills. If you’ll be working with the public, communication skills will be valuable.  A few of the skills that might apply to an entry level position:

  • Typing
  • Math
  • Counting money
  • Problem solving

Prove It

Anyone can say they have these skills and traits. For an effective resume, show “proof” by giving examples:

  • As my teachers will attest, I am a hard worker, always finishing my homework complete, on time, and to the best of my ability.

You could state your grades in math or typing class:

  • Excellent math skills, earning a 98% in Algebra II

Another valuable method of “proving” your skill or trait is to quote someone of authority. You might ask you teachers or mentors to describe you:

  • Jill has a good business sense. She’s done very well in business class and her skills will transfer well into a business environment. –Mr. E. Jones, Business Teacher, Big Sky High School
  • Joe is a natural leader and communicator. He is clear, concise, and listens closely. He’d be great working with the public. –Ms. J. Foster, Debate Coach, Hellgate High School

Demonstrate You’ll Be a Great Employee

Even with no prior work experience, you can demonstrate that you’ll be a great employee. Draw from your schooling, volunteer outreach, babysitting, or even family chores to show examples of your skills and personality traits that will benefit your future employers.

Then Be a Great Employee!

And remember, once you get the job, to make the most of your time there. This will be a great opportunity to learn new skills and build a positive work history and references for your next resume!

Is this helpful advice? Do you have an employment question? Please let me know in the comment section below!

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Jennifer Shryock is a resume writer and interview coach with Rainmaker Resumes. Her blog features Missoula job hunting tips, covering everything from the employer perspective to networking ideas to interview-winning resumes to keeping your sense of humor, whether you’re working or working to find work. For answers, send your work related questions to Jennifer@rainmakerresume.com. Make her blog a regular part of your job search.