Accio Job! How to Write Your Resume Like a Wiz

Writing a resume can seem pretty intimidating—after all, as a teen girl, your life probably isn’t filled with tons of cubicle experience. But it’s not nearly as scary as you might think. Being a teenager isn't a detriment to you as a job-seeker; it can actually be a benefit. Lots of employers these days want youthful workers with fresh ideas and tons of energy—and if you have that, writing a resume will be a piece of cake.

So where do you start? First, make sure to include your contact info. If they can't find you, they can’t hire you. So type up your name, address, phone number and email; it might seem like over-kill, but it’s actually super important.

Next, create a few lists: Work Experience, Education, Honors & Awards, and Skills. Some employers might ask for different categories, but these are the basic ones. So now, what experience do you have? Should you talk about that crazy frog-leg eating contest you hosted last summer? Or that time your mom made you work in her knitting store all summer and you didn't even know how to knit? The truth is, a resume isn't for story-telling in the fun, anecdotal sense. But don’t worry; you can definitely use your stories to find out where your experience lies. That frog-leg contest? You have experience in event planning. You worked in the family store? That’s retail experience. Just remember to include the dates of your different ‘jobs’ and label your positions (cashier, caretaker, office manager, etc.).

Among the categories, Work Experience can be the hardest list to write. When I was working on my first resume, the closest thing I’d had to a job was keeping my little cousin’s Barbie dolls out of her mouth. But that’s okay—babysitting, volunteering, camp counseling, peer tutoring and other typical teenage activities all count as work experience. Just spruce it up a little—use words like childcare, community service, retail experience, and other job-esque phrases.

If you're still low on experience, your skills set can save you. Is your room spotless? You have great organizational skills. Do you look after your younger siblings? You’re a natural leader. And don’t be afraid to use school activities to highlight your strong suits, too: athletics show that you’re a great team player and academic excellence demonstrates how hard you work. Most importantly, phrase your skills in a way that applies to the job you want. Jamba Juice might not care that you babysit two days a week, but they will care that you keep whiny children happy and engaged—sounds like customer service to me—and that you have experience with kitchen appliances and the culinary arts, even if that all comes from making mac-n-cheese and smoothies for little kids.

The next category, Education, is the easiest part, so don’t worry; employers don’t care if you got a bad grade in elementary school music class. All you have to say is your year in high school or what kind of diplomas or degrees you have, and whether or not you can boast any technical education (Do you have a plumbing license, have you studied at a culinary academy, apprenticed in a garage, etc.?).

Finally, there’s Honors & Awards. This category really depends on the employer; some want it, some couldn’t care less. If your employer does care—or if you’re applying for a job that relates to one of your awards—then list your achievements succinctly. It isn’t bragging; it's the facts. Here you can list the contests you’ve won and your academic, athletic or community awards. Make sure you include the dates you won/received your awards, too.

So…congratulations! You have pretty much everything you need to write a resume. Here's just a few final quick tips before you start:

Don’t go over a page. Short, sweet.

Keep your design easy to read; resume templates can get a little over-the-top and sometimes basic is just better.

Customize. It's great to know what to do for a basic resume, but you should always follow the guidelines given specifically by your (hopefully) boss-to-be.

Now go write your resume! Go apply to be a lion tamer, a magazine editor, a cashier at Yogurtland! We know you can do it. After all, you’re a WriteGirl, aren’t you?