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Updating Your Resume

How can students create an eye-catching resume when they have no work experience?

This is an age-old question that young people moving out into the workforce have faced forever. It can be an especially difficult question if those young people have special needs that must also be addressed.

“Update Your Resume” week falls in the month of September and coordinates with the beginning of school. For those students getting ready to transition into the world of employment, this is a good time to start looking at their resumes.

What Do You Have to Offer?

Sometimes teens believe that an employer’s job is to give them a job. They miss the fact that, instead, it is their job to give something to the employer—their skills, their attitude, their work ethic, in short, their ability to help the employer make money and be successful.

This then, is the first lesson we, as teachers, need to teach our students—how to assess what value they bring to an employer. It doesn’t make sense to create resumes, or write business letters, or practice interviews if students can’t articulate that basic truth at the root of job hunting: what value do you bring?

How to Help Students Find Their Value

Even though our students may have little work experience to list on a resume, that doesn’t mean they can’t bring value to a job. Are they motivated? Do they learn fast in school? Are they diligent? Organized? Determined? Industrious?

The free lesson offered this week helps students explore the key traits they might bring to an employer by having them look at ways they’ve already succeeded in their lives. To use this lesson you might:

  1. Discuss positive attributes of students. Brainstorm ideas about what makes a good student/good leader in school and list those traits on a chart or the board.

  2. Pass out “Bank of Terms for ‘Key Traits.’” Show students how a full sentence of positive action has been distilled into one phrase. For example, “I pay attention and understand the first time,” might translate into “attentive” and “fast learner.”

  3. Help students “name” traits. As they brainstorm, help students turn their own sentences into key traits. Create as large a key trait bank as you can for your students.

  4. Work in Teams. Allow students to work in groups to decide what key traits each possesses. Use the “My Key Traits” chart to list the 5 most important traits they have. Remind them to judge the importance of a trait by its value in their chosen profession. For example, “creativity” might be important if they are creating a website, but no so much so if their job was to count change or add numbers.

  5. Resume building. File these worksheets away to be used when students begin to create a resume. In the meantime, have them work on building key traits that will enhance their resume and their value in the workplace.

For More Information

This free lesson comes from Interviewing Skills from the Daily Living Skills series. This is part of the job skills series of books that includes: Seeking Employment, Getting a Paycheck, Work Games, Decision Making, Dress for Success, Managing Stress, Overcoming Failure, Time Management and Who Am I? College & Career.

Like all books in the series, it is written on a 3rd/4th-grade level with light, airy pages and bullet-point information that, nevertheless, honors a teen’s sensibilities and sense of humor while meeting Indicator 13 skills and federally mandated transition requirements.

For more information on this and other books in the series go here.

9_2 Resume Worksheet (1)
Download PDF • 298KB


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