10 Helpful Resume Writing Activities For High School Students

“The challenge of life, I have found, is to build a resume that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be, but it’s a story about who you want to be”. – Oprah Winfrey

As beautifully defined by the above quote, a resume is a story of the stepping stones that you’ve taken so far in order to become who you want to be. Having a compelling resume is a must for every individual to thrive in the competitive landscape, be it a high school student or a working professional. 

Resume writing is a crucial skill that high school students need to develop as this is the time they prepare for their higher education and enter the corporate world. It is not only about enlisting skills and achievements, but it requires thoughtful organizational skills, an ability to present qualifications and a good hold of language skills. 

To quip high school students about the process of resume writing, summarized below are some creative activities aiming to guide them in creating impactful resumes and setting a strong foundation for their careers.

Discover, collaborate & reflect: Engaging resume writing activities for high schoolers

1. Resume Redesign 

Resume Redesign

With the availability of a number of templates for resumes, it becomes quite difficult to select the suitable and relevant one on the basis of the unique information to include, especially for high schoolers who are bound to get overwhelmed being their first time for jobs as well as college applications. 

How to do the activity:

  • Firstly, educators need to familiarize students with every important element that has to be there in a resume for high school students and the optional ones that are not necessary but can be included as per the need and availability. 
  • Now, students need to make a note of their information, and based on that, they have to explore and experiment with different designs for their resumes. 
  • Instruct them that they can try different fonts and layouts and design at least 5 resumes for themselves. 
  • Fix one day when every student has to come prepared with their designed resumes and every participant will present their designs to the class and the class will rate every design out of 5

Here, feedback and rating play a crucial role in helping students select the most appropriate one for themselves. Also, when they explore and experiment with different designs, they familiarize themselves with different layouts and structures which might be helpful in any other cases of resume designing.

2. Discover yourself

Discover yourself

Let’s use an effective strategy of SWOT Analysis which is used for marketing to discover ourselves. Yes, you read that right! SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. In order to build an efficient resume, one must know about themself in terms of what they are good at and what areas need to be worked upon.

How to do the activity: 

  • Explain to the class about the strategy and its elements. 
  • Now ask them to take a sheet of paper and divide it into 4 sections. Name each section with Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 
  • Set a timer of about 5-10 minutes for each section and ask students to think about themselves and fill in each section. 

Strengths will help them know what they’re good at that can also be referred to as positive points about themselves. The weaknesses section will include the negative points or what they can not do or are not good at which will help them know and narrow down the options to what they can do in the future. 

The opportunities section will include the areas they think they can ace if they work on it which will help them know the areas of improvement. Last, but not least will be threats in which they need to write about any external threats that you can not control but can be reduced by controlling other factors (can be external or internal) causing it.

3. Improvise your Resume

Improvise your Resume

Every job profile is different and that calls for different requirements such as unique skill sets, achievements, and qualifications. 

How to do the activity:

  • Explain to students how customizing the resume for every job or college application they’re applying to is important and not the same single resume works for every application.
  • Ask students to search and explore different job openings on job portals or company official websites. 
  • Shortlist 3 job openings that they think are suitable for them and go through the details of what is the profile, what are requirements, and what will be the daily responsibilities. 
  • Now they’ve to work on their resume and customize it for all the 3 profiles they shortlisted.
  • Once done, check their resume and provide feedback. 

One thing that students need to know here is that customizing a resume based on different applications doesn’t mean we’ve to lie and make it exactly what is the requirement, instead, it means presenting your skills and qualifications, experience in such a way that it resonates with the application requirements. This activity can also be done for college applications.

4. Resume Peer Review

Resume Peer Review

Feedback is significant for everything we do. Be it education or resume writing. 

How to do the activity:

  • Start giving numbers 1 to 10 to every student, or can be according to the number of students in a class but make sure only 2 students can have the same number.
  • Now, the students with the same number will form a pair. 
  • Ask students to exchange their resumes with their pair and they need to check and evaluate each other’s resumes based on what they know about their pair and also set certain criteria for the evaluation. 
  • After they are done evaluating, they need to share the insights they find about the resume. Share what they think is missing in the resume, what areas can be improved and what are the good and the positive points about the resume. Teachers can check with every pair and share their insights too. 

This activity will help to get the different perspectives that you might be missing or are not aware of. Additionally, it will help with observation skills as well as help students revisit the resume-building crucial points.

5. Hire for your company

Hire for your company

This activity will give students an opportunity to act as HR of different companies and evaluate different resumes. 

How to do the activity:

  • Gather some samples of resumes for different job profiles. Make sure there are enough samples that every student in a class receives 2 samples at least to compare and evaluate. 
  • Now give a situation to the students such as “Suppose you’re an HR manager of XYZ company hiring for customer support profile. You’ve got certain resumes and you need to check and evaluate them and see if you want to shortlist them for an interview or not. If yes, then why, and if not, then why not. Observe carefully and provide a proper explanation for the same” 
  • Now give 2 resume samples to each student and let them scan them and come to a conclusion. 
  • Call each student one by one to present their findings to the class to which classmates and the educator can give feedback and share insights on the observation skills of the student. 

This will let students think from the recruiter’s point of view and they will get clarity about their resume about how to write and present their skills and qualifications.

6. Practice cover letters

Practice cover letters

Cover letters are what answer “why you should be hired for this role” and in case of college applications, it will be the statement of purpose. Cover letters need to be very straightforward that require good writing skills. For this, high school students can employ creative writing activities to learn and practice the same.

How to do the activity:

  • Students have to create a 1-2 minute elevator pitch for themselves keeping in mind their resume and the job profile they’re applying for. 
  • Instruct students that they need to include examples of why they think they’re good at every skill they’ve mentioned. 
  • Instruct the students that in this 1-2 minute pitch, you’ve to convince the HR (here students) how you can be an asset to the company.
  • Ask the class to share their insights about what points are good and what can be better. 

This activity will help you write an effective cover letter and make a good first impression.

7. Powerful Words Resume Challenge

Powerful Words Resume Challenge

Word choice is critical when it comes to resumes. It is always said that action words are powerful to describe what you have done to highlight your experience and persuade potential employers and college administrators. 

How to do the activity:

  • Prepare handouts for all the students of the class with all the powerful action words that can be used in a resume and explain how the use of these words can make an impact and make the resume stand out. 
  • Discuss every word, the meaning of it, and an example of how it can be used in a resume and under what situations. 
  • Now ask students to use the handout and try to incorporate as many words as they can in their resume and then give feedback to each and every student. 

This can also be an improving communication skill activity that will familiarize them with using these words in their daily conversation. 

8. Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Resume Do’s and Don’ts

This activity is to equip high school students about what to strictly avoid while writing resumes and what to follow to make the resumes more impactful and stand out. 

How to do the activity:

  • Make different slips with resume do’s and don’ts and put them in a bowl or small box in the classroom.
  • On the whiteboard or chalkboard, mark a line in the center and make two sections and name one part as “Do’s” and the other as “Don’ts”. 
  • Call each student one by one and ask them to pick one chit and determine whether the point he/she discovered will come under do’s or don’ts. 
  • Ask them to explain why they think the same and what should be done in that case. 

This activity will familiarize them with the technicalities that need to be taken care of while writing a resume and clear doubts about the whole process and exceptions. You can conduct this activity for both colleges as well as job applications. 

9. Anonymous messages

Anonymous messages

Who doesn’t like getting anonymous compliments and knowing about themselves? Well, this activity is all about getting insights about ourselves from other’s points of view. 

How to do the activity:

  • Ask every student in the class to write about a minimum of five of their classmates on a slip of ½ size of a4 sheet. They can write for more friends if they want but the minimum is five. 
  • They need to write the name of the friend they’re writing about then followed by strengths that they think their friend is good at which can be an asset to land a good job. Then write about the areas where they need to work on that can be added advantage for them while applying for jobs. 
  • These chits will be anonymous feedback for the students. 
  • Once done, collect all chits, mix them, and put them in a bowl. 
  • Pick one chit one by one and read aloud about the student. 

This will encourage them, increase their self-esteem, provide insights that the students are unaware of about themselves, and can use them in their resumes and work on themselves. This self-esteem activity for high school students can work wonders in encouraging students to have belief & faith in themselves and their unique capabilities.

10. Build a Resume from Scratch

Build a Resume from Scratch

Let’s solve a puzzle and build a resume from scratch without having relatable skills, qualifications, and experiences to include. Sounds interesting, right? 

How to do the activity:

  • Have different bowls or small boxes for every component of the resume like skills, qualifications, experience, the position of responsibility, etc. 
  • Now, you can ask students or make different slips for every box by yourself. Each slip should have one thing like one slip with graphic designing for the box of skills. Make sure to have enough slips for every box so that every student can get at least 3-4 slips from each box. 
  • Now every student has to come and pick 2-3 slips from each box. 
  • After everyone is having their own set of slips, they need to design a resume based on the information they’ve got on the slips. They need to think of what qualifications, and skills can go together and how and create a good compelling resume. 

This activity is to equip students to carefully design and present everything in a resume when things are not so good and relatable enough. This activity will also help them in tailoring the resume according to a given job profile or college application.

Summing up

High school students are at a point of transition to the colleges and workforce. This calls for developing resume writing skills to build compelling resumes. Besides instructing them about the process, engaging them in activities can have a profound impact on their learning.

Activities do not only teach them about the technicalities of resume building but also involve them in critical thinking, self-reflection, and collaboration. In addition to this, high school students can also participate in college readiness activities and transition activities to prepare themselves for their future endeavors.

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