Thursday, April 12, 2007

Homeschoolers - Has Your Teen Written A Resume?

When our sons applied for college they sent a resume along with their transcript information. Whether your homeschooled teen is deciding to go on to college or not, a good item to have prepared is a resume. This blog post is for your teen.

A resume is a way to show a snapshot of your work and volunteer experiences, your interests, as well as describe any awards that you may have won (i.e. writing contests, sports awards). The word resume comes from a French word meaning , “to summarize”.

Even if you never show a resume to a prospective employer or if you never send one off to a college, it is a good idea to put one together because it helps you to recognize and take stock in your strengths and abilities. It also gets you to document on paper, the dates that you were employed or did volunteer work, and any pertinent information relating to those positions.

There are many resume formats to choose from. Some people even include a photo – but that isn’t necessary. Go to the library and pick out a few books about resume writing and fiddle around with a few formats to see what suits you. Just getting some basic information down on paper is a terrific start and the fine-tuning can come as you continue to edit and make adjustments. Microsoft Word has a resume template that can be of use to you, but you have to know your information before you start creating it. After you put together a final copy of your resume remember that your resume will become a document that you should update every few months.

There is no “right way’ to write a resume, but ultimately it can be a way for you to make a good first impression. Some people spend an awful amount of time just choosing the paper it should be printed on! Nowadays the paper it is printed on is unimportant anyway because the document ultimately gets faxed or copied. My thought is to keep it simple. Resumes should be easy to read and ideally your information should fit on one side of one page. Try to say as much about yourself in the least amount of space. Always check your spelling and grammar carefully because poor usage will be a detriment no matter how impressive your skills or experience. It is always a good idea to have someone else proofread your resume.

As far as job experience goes, do not underestimate any types of things that you have done. Part-time, summer jobs, and volunteer work are all very important. These jobs have given you experience and skills, which are very important for people to know about. When you describe those jobs the rule of thumb is to use action words to describe what you did. Don’t just give a job title. Spell out exactly what your duties were. Words like “sold”, “ tutored”, “managed”, “improved”, “ organized”, and so on, give the impression that you are a person who can get things done. Avoid using the word “I” because it is not necessary since the resume is about you to begin with. Above all do not inflate or lie about yourself.

As a homeschooler you want to highlight some of the wonderful projects and experiences you have had as part of your education. Don’t be shy about listing any special projects or assignments that you did, or places you have traveled to. Document the special skills or talents that you have, like the ability to speak a foreign language or operate shop equipment, or your ability to take care of farm animals, or type 50 words a minute.

If you are a teen sitting there thinking that you have no skills or talents to speak of, then putting together a resume is exactly what you need to do at this time. Spend some time thinking about yourself and what your interests are, and how you have pursued them. Think about what your spend your time on and who you interact with. Writing a resume is a good way to learn about yourself and see that you really have learned to do many things and possess many useful skills. Now you need to put that information on paper.