Guide to Writing a Resume

Résumés are an important tool when looking for gainful employment. Because the hunt for good jobs is highly competitive, an applicant must have a well-written résumé to give them an advantage. Typically, the need for a résumé first arises during high school or shortly after graduation. At this time, one can learn what is required, such as a phone number, address, and other contact information, and what is optional, such as an objective statement

Choose the Right Type of Résumé

There are several different styles to consider when writing a résumé: reverse chronological, functional or skill-based, and combined. A functional or skill-based résumé is one that places its primary focus on one’s skills and experiences. Another style of functional résumé is called a relevant coursework résumé, which is suitable for high school students, as it showcases skills achieved through coursework. The chronological résumé lists one’s work history, including employers and employment dates, with the most current listed first. Combined résumés use elements of both chronological and functional résumés.

  • Résumé Writing Guide (PDF): This document explains what résumés are, why they are used, and the different styles, including the relevant coursework style of résumé. The page also includes information about the most important considerations when writing a résumé and the various categories.

  • Types of Résumés: Read about chronological, skills-based, and combined résumé types by clicking on this link to the Writing Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison website. Further down the page, readers are given additional résumé-related information on sections, active verbs, and formatting.

  • CareerWise: Types of Résumés: On this page, students are able to read up on chronological, functional, and combined résumé types. Readers are also given advantages, disadvantages, and information on when to use and not use each. Keyword and targeted résumés are also included on this page.


Ideally, a résumé should be no longer than one page in length, and it should never be more than two. As a high school student with a limited work history, it should be relatively simple to keep it on a single page. To ensure that it remains this desired length, use a 10- or 12-point font and keep information concise. A two-page résumé is typically acceptable for people with 10 or more years of work experience.

  • The Eternal Question: Résumé Length: Click this link for information on résumé length and advice on how to keep it down to a single page.

  • Résumés (PDF): Students learning to write a résumé may click this link to view guidelines, a checklist, power words, and good and bad samples.

  • Building a Résumé (PDF): Review the information on this document for section-by-section instructions and tips on how to write a résumé.

Work Experience

In this section, an applicant should list any paid jobs that they may have done. Because teens won’t likely have had many jobs, they may also include volunteer work. When writing this information, include the names and addresses of the places worked. It is also important to use action phrases or verbs to start each sentence when describing one’s volunteer or work experience. This makes for a stronger and more interesting résumé that will stand out from others.

  • Sample Résumé for High School Students (PDF): Click this link to review a sample résumé. The sample gives tips and examples for writing each section. On the second page of this document, students will find a list of action verbs.

  • Résumé Tips (PDF) Students interested in getting tips on how to write an effective résumé may review this document by clicking on the link. Tips are included for each of the sections, including work experience.

  • Six Tips for a No-Experience Résumé: Learn how to write a resume with no previous work experience by clicking on this link to the Investopedia website.

  • What to Put on Your Résumé if You Have No Work Experience: This USA Today College article discusses what students should put on their résumé if they have little or no work experience. The page discusses including information on relevant skills and academic projects.


Education is an important category for employers to see. After high school, it is used as a meter for how qualified a candidate is for the job. When looking for work while in high school or after graduation, include the name of the school attended and the date or target year of graduation. One should also include their GPA, but only if it is a 3.0 or greater. It is unnecessary to include information about middle or elementary school, as it would not impact one’s ability to get work. Adults should list any formal education in this section, naming the school, the year of graduation, and the degree or certification received.

  • Teen Résumé Guide (PDF): The Mayor’s Youth Council in Boston offers this brochure on what goes into a résumé and what one should know before writing one. Each category includes a brief explanation with tips. On the final page of the document, there is a list of action words for writing the résumé.

  • How to Write Your Résumé: Read how to write a résumé, followed by a detailed overview of each of the sections, including education.

  • What Is Included in a Résumé? Click this link to learn more about résumé themes, education details, and job objectives. The page also includes information on categories such as awards, hobbies and interests, and references.

Activities and Interests

Listing activities and interests helps employers better understand how well-rounded the job candidates are. An employer may also look at one’s interests and activities for skills that are potentially useful on the job. Although a person may enjoy a wide range of activities, they should only use the interests that will help them land the job. Awards and other accomplishments may also be included in this section or listed separately.


Prior to hiring a job candidate, most employers want to verify their character by contacting references. Depending on the employer, references may be teachers, coaches, past employers, or personal friends who are willing to vouch for the candidate as a good and dependable person. Typically, family members cannot be listed as references. Include the names, relationship, and phone numbers of one’s references, or type in “References Upon Request” and supply the information on a separate page if needed.

  • Writing a Résumé (PDF): By clicking on this link, readers will find information on the purpose, style, lengths, and format of résumés. The page also includes information about the six potential categories and what to include for references.

  • Information to Include in a Résumé (PDF): Get information on required and optional sections for one’s résumé, including what to include for references. The document also offers information on what not to include in a résumé.


Under the skills category, a person should list things that they are proficient at. When including a skill in a job candidate’s résumé, it should relate to the job that is being applied for. Computer proficiency and understanding the latest computer software are examples of technology skills. A more traditional skill would be fluency in a foreign language or public speaking, while graphic arts is a more creative example.

  • Skills Section: Click on this link to the Purdue Owl website for information on the skills section of a résumé.

  • Résumés: Career Center (PDF): People interested in improving their résumé-writing skills will find samples, styles, and suggestions.

  • Résumé Sections: Visit this page on the Career Services at Princeton website for tips on writing the sections of one’s résumé.