Employable You: Making Your High School Résumé Shine

May 8–12, 2017   |   Vol. 130, Week 11
Previously aired:   April 18–22, 2016   |   Vol. 126, Week 12

This week on Homeschool Heartbeat, Mike Smith sits down with high school expert Becky Cooke and marketing manager Alan Hudson to discuss strategies for helping your high schooler craft a dynamic—and irresistible—résumé.

The podcast will cover:

  • Why résumés are important
  • Helping your teen put her best foot forward
  • Highlighting your teen’s educational accomplishments
  • Tailoring your teen’s résumé to a specific job
  • Getting creative to make a résumé stand out

“A résumé is a portrait of the person applying for the position, but it is also a mirror that reveals the reflection of the ideal candidate.” — Alan Hudson

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In today’s economy, it’s crucial to give your teen an edge as he or she enters the workforce. Find out how you can—on this week’s Homeschool Heartbeat with host Mike Smith and Becky Cooke.

Mike Smith: Becky, it’s great to have you on the program today.

Becky Cooke: Well, thank you, Mike, for having me back!

A competitive edge [0:18]

Mike: Becky, you regularly work with homeschool parents who are anxious to successfully prepare their teens for future careers. With this in mind, how helpful is it that a teen create a résumé while still in high school?

Becky: Well, many parents think that résumés are something that student will create in college in preparation for looking for a job. But high school students should begin creating such a document in the 9th grade, updating it each year of high school. Then when the teen looks for that part-time job or applies for an internship or apprenticeship, a résumé will give him an opportunity to promote himself.

Compiling pertinent information into one document will save a lot of time when filling out job and college applications. But it can also motivate the teen to see the worthiness of the academics and extracurricular activities, and then encourage him by all that he has accomplished.

Putting your best foot forward [1:11]

Mike: Becky, if a high school student has never worked a regular, paid job, what do you suggest he or she put in the “experience” section of a résumé?

Becky: Mike, teens should not think that jobs such as babysitting or mowing yards are too menial to include on the résumé. However, I’d recommend giving them more professional sounding titles.

And in addition to work experience, it’s important to include volunteer and community service. Don’t forget to include the dates worked, including average number of hours per week or month, position held, responsibilities, and skills acquired.

Mike: Becky, a résumé also communicates a personal brand. In addition to experience and education, what else can a homeschooler list on a résumé to promote him- or herself?

Becky: Well, leadership positions in training are highly regarded by colleges and employers. Honors and awards are other areas worthy of mention. If the teen has proficiency in a foreign language, or computer skills, or certifications, or licenses, be sure to include these on the résumé. And also foreign travel experiences and hobbies can set the teen apart from others.

Showcasing your education [2:20]

Mike: Becky, homeschooled teens have an education to be proud of, but homeschooling can be difficult to describe to people who are unfamiliar with it—such as prospective employers. What do you suggest that a homeschooled teen should include in the all-important “education” section of a résumé?

Becky: Well, since every résumé includes the expected academic achievements, homeschoolers will want to indicate the level of education attained, as well as the most difficult level of courses taken, such as AP, honors, or college prep courses. Such courses will highlight the teen’s motivation and independent learning skills. If the teen has an excellent GPA, and high SAT/ACT scores, then these should be prominent on the résumé. She may also want to note specific courses taken, relating to the position she’s seeking. If the teen has received honors such as National Merit Scholar, dean’s list through college dual-enrollment, or is a member of an honor society, include these in the academic achievement section.

You . . . on paper [3:19]

Mike: Today I’m joined by Alan Hudson, a marketing manager and homeschooling father of seven. Alan, welcome to the program!

Alan Hudson: Well, thank you for having me, Mike! It’s certainly my pleasure to share on this important topic.

Mike: Well, Alan, once a student has an updated résumé, he or she will need to tailor it to each specific job that is applied for. How can homeschooled teens do that?

Alan: A résumé is a portrait of the person applying for the position, but it is also a mirror that reveals the reflection of the ideal candidate. If possible, challenge the teen to place themselves in the position of the person reviewing the résumé, and ask questions like, “What is it about this résumé that shows that they are the best person for the job?” or, “Are there specific skills, or experiences or capabilities, that make this person perfect for our team?” Or, “What kinds of attitudes and soft skillssuch as motivations and disciplines—are revealed in the résumé to indicate that they will be successful?” Remember, it’s not about the applicant writing the résumé, but about the potential employer who is reading it.

Success is in the details [4:22]

Mike: I’ve heard that employers spend an average of 15 seconds looking at a résumé. Alan, what suggestions do you have that will make important information actually jump out?

Alan: Well, you are right. Most résumés are only given a quick glance. But there are some strategies that will allow you to make it to the next step in the hiring process. First, I would say to be clear that you meet or exceed the requirements for the position, and to be concise and targeted with your skills and experiences. Also, be clear and uncluttered, using bullets instead of full sentences. But be accurate, without spelling or grammatical errors.

And I would also encourage to not be afraid to use a diagram or a word picture to make yourself stand out. I would list your accomplishments and your activities in a way that show your commitment to teamwork, to dedication, and to success. And if it’s a handwritten application, use a good pen and your best handwriting.

Finally, be sure to follow up within a few days to connect with the reviewer. Remember, what you’re trying to do is to make your résumé more memorable, so that you get the call for a face-to-face interview.

Mike: Alan, I’m sure many homeschooled teens and their parents will find this very helpful. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Becky CookePhoto of Becky

Becky Cooke and her husband Jim homeschooled their three children from kindergarten until college using an eclectic assortment of teaching resources. She enjoys using these same skills to equip parents to successfully teach their children through the high school years and to encourage them to enjoy doing so.

After sending her children off to university, Becky helped develop HSLDA’s Homeschooling Thru High School program including its high school website. She brings a wealth of experience and friendly advice to share with families who are navigating these challenging, yet exciting years. In her “spare” time, she edits books, articles, and magazines for several authors and publishers, is active in Precepts upon Precepts Bible Study, and mentors international collegiate women studying in the Washington, D.C. area. She also serves on the board of Breakthrough Intercessors Prayer Ministry.

Alan HudsonPhoto of Alan

The parents of seven children, Alan Hudson and his wife Teresa have been formally homeschooling since 1993 when their eldest was five. Today, the Hudson children range in age from 8 to 23. Two have completed college degrees through accelerated distance learning.

Alan has shared with homeschooling families all over the United States how to create a Christ-centered household, as well as how to encourage and equip children to reach their God-given potential. Having held management positions in engineering, sales, and now marketing, he has also taught goal-setting skills and techniques to achieve success. Combining business trips with family vacations, he has led the Hudson gang across the United States and into Canada, incorporating learning, growth, and fun into each trip.

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