Tips for Writing Winning Resumes: Answers to Students' Most Frequently Asked Questions

By Beale, Andrew V. | Techniques, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Tips for Writing Winning Resumes: Answers to Students' Most Frequently Asked Questions


Beale, Andrew V., Techniques


With double-digit unemployment rates facing teenage job seekers, adolescents need all the help they can get in securing employment. One step in the job seeking process is the development of resumes that will win employment interviews. Whether they are looking for an after-school job, a summer job, or their first "real" job, this article provides young workers with tips for writing winning resumes.

The reality of the workforce today is that virtually no one just "gets" hired. Instead, finding a job is a challenging and seemingly complicated process. This is especially true for adolescents who, besides having little firsthand experience with job hunting, face an already saturated labor market. High school students seeking employment today are in a buyer's market (i.e., with fewer positions to fill, employers can afford to be selective). The recent downturn in the economy with its corresponding softness in the labor market produced a youth unemployment rate of 18 percent in April 2003, up from 12.4 percent in 2002, 10.4 percent in 2001 and 9.6 percent in 2000. What this means is that more than 1.3 million teenage job seekers were available and looking for work in 2003. When compared with the overall U.S. unemployment rate of six percent, it is apparent that young people seeking to enter the labor force face an uphill battle (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2003).

What can be done to help unemployed teenagers get jobs? What can be done to smooth the transition from high school to work? In a 1990 article in The School Counselor, J. Downing and T.C. Harrison recommended the use of job seeking strategies that are limited in scope rather than grandiose in nature. And in a 1995 School Counselor article, L.W. Landrum demonstrated that the transition from school to work was easier if job seeking skills programs focused on achieving small wins. She had students enrolled in her school's dropout prevention program prepare resumes to be used when applying for jobs. She found that resume preparation was something the students could successfully handle, the product was good, the resumes mirrored something positive about the students, and it helped the students land jobs. With results like these, perhaps more schools should assist their students in preparing winning resumes. After all, a well-crafted resume is the best way to get a prospective employer to answer the question, "Is tiffs person someone I should interview?" with a resounding "Yes!"

Many employers request resumes from applicants because resumes are an efficient means to quickly screen job applicants in or out. Thus, having a well-constructed resume that presents the student in the best possible light is an essential first step in the employment process.

Despite all the free advice about resume writing available on the Internet and the proliferation of resumes-made-easy books on the market, many high school students still encounter problems in coming up with winning resumes. Whether they are looking for an after-school job, a summer job, or their first "real" job, students need a comprehensive plan to help them achieve their goals. Writing a winning resume is one of the first steps in such a plan. What follows are answers to high school students' most frequently asked questions about resumes. By following these resume preparation guidelines, students can become frontrunners in the jobs race.

High School Students' Most Frequently Asked Questions About Resumes

As a high school student, do I really need a resume?

Yes, you do. The main purpose of a resume is to get you a job interview. A resume is not an autobiography. Instead, it is a brief summary of you: what your experience is, where you went to school, what your skills are, and what you like to do. Your resume is a sales brochure that tells employees what you have to offer. For any job advertised, an employer might receive hundreds of applications. The resumes they receive help them to narrow down their list of applicants and decide whom to interview. …

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