How to Write Your first resume - featured Image

So, it’s time to write your first resume! You’re nervous and excited and probably asking yourself questions like “how do I write my first resume?“, “what do I include on my resume?” or even “what should a resume look like?”

Luckily for you, we’ve got this ultimate guide to writing your first resume so you can go out and nail your job hunting!

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

What Should Your Resume Include?

What to Include in Your Resume

1. Contact Information

Your contact information should include your:

    • Full Name
    • Mobile Phone Number
    • Email
    • Home Address
    • Link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one!)

Note: If you’ve still got an email that has an old nickname in it with a bunch of numbers or even your birthday using Hotmail, it’s probably time you made a new and more professional email account!

That means goodbye to [email protected] and hello [email protected]!

Try setting up your new email in Gmail or Outlook as no one really uses Hotmail anymore.

If you’ve got a common first name and surname that’s already been taken, try putting the initial of your middle name in it e.g. [email protected] or if that doesn’t work, initial your first name and middle name e.g. [email protected]

2. Education

Here, you should mention what high school you go to and what year you’re in and the years you’ve been there – easy!

This might look something like: Smith College | 2015 – 2020

If you’ve already graduated from high school and you’re proud of your ATAR, you may want to include that here.

3. Previous Work Experience

If you did some work experience in Year 10, maybe had a summer holiday job or even have you own little side hustle, then now is the time to write it down!

Make sure you mention the business’ name, what your position title was and the start and end date.

For example, you might stylise this as: Cashier | McDonald’s | February 2018 – September 2020

If you still currently work there, you can put February 2018 – present.

Here, you want to mention your title and underneath dot point or write a brief paragraph about what you did in your role, your key responsibilities and any skills you learned or refined through the job.

4. Volunteering

If you do any volunteering, such as at your place of worship, then list that down! Similar to what you’ve written for Previous Work Experience, mention the organisation’s name, the name of your role, and dot point or write a short paragraph about what you did within the organisation.

Volunteering looks great on resumes and it’s an easy way to impress employers, so don’t be afraid to show off in this section!

5. Leadership Roles

Were you a Prefect, House Captain, School Captain, or some other leader at your school?

Now’s the time to mention it! Here, you want to mention your title and underneath dot point or write a brief paragraph about what you did in your role e.g. any initiatives you started, fundraisers etc, your key responsibilities and any skills you learned or refined e.g. teamwork and communication.

6. Extra-curricular Activities

Have you ever stayed back after school to participate in activities or train for sports? Were some of your lunches spent attending meetings for your school’s Social Justice group or practising for choir?

Well, this section is all about the extra stuff you do on top of your classes and even outside of school! If you participate in any sports, academic clubs, creative clubs, or even take exams for a musical instrument, list these activities through dot points.

Extra-curricular activities on your resume will show that you get involved in things and are well-rounded as a person!

7. Awards

Did you come first in any subjects? Were you Dux of your cohort? Or maybe you got a commendation award?

Now’s the time to mention any academic related awards, volunteering related awards, leadership awards or any spirit awards you may have received over the course of your time in high school! Try to choose the ones that are the most recent.

8. Skills

As an HSC student, you have excellent communication skills, as you’ve been practising written and oral communication all throughout school and now you’re an expert. Communication skills are essential to any area of the workforce you’re wanting to apply to so writing this on your resume is essential!

If you have any extra experience with communication e.g. you were an MC for a school event or attended a writing course, then you should add this as well.

Teamwork! You’ve been doing group-work all throughout school, and potentially you’ve done team sports or organised a school/community event and you should be including this in your resume! This looks great to an employer because it is essential that employees get along and cooperate to give the best service possible.

You have great technological skills! You might be like me and feel that technology was designed to make you look foolish… However, chances are you understand how to operate most computer programs, and if not, you’re able to quickly learn this!

In my part time job I was required to learn how to select items from a drop down menu and ensure that the codes matched exactly; I would then have to put the number of each item in. My 40-year-old boss warned me that it was “quite complicated,” however I learned it with ease, and so would most of you!

The point is that your technological skills are good enough to put them on your resume and if you have extra skills i.e. an excellent grasp of Photoshop, you can add this.

Showing initiative is an excellent skill to have on your resume. Employers are looking for someone who can think on their feet to solve problems, this is especially true for retail.

Interpersonal skills are also a good thing to add; the ability to relate to others is highly desirable to employers as it makes for a cohesive work environment, and in retail makes for good sales!

An ability to work under pressure is essential for most jobs, so it is a good idea to include this in your resume.

9. Availability

When going through your resume, employers will already be thinking about whether your availability will be suited to the needs of the company. Think about your schedule and how often you’d be able to work!

Then, list down the days and the times throughout those days that you’d be able to work. You might want to lay it out like this:

  • Thursday: 4pm – 9pm
  • Saturday: All day
  • Sunday: All day

10. References

You don’t actually have to list references on your resume, but for some job applications, you may be asked to include them. Either way, be sure to have 2-3 references, their contact details (phone number and email), role and organisation e.g. Mentor, Art of Smart Education.

People you can have as references include teachers, any supervisors you’ve had for work experience, or adults who can vouch for any volunteering you’ve done. Be sure to ask your chosen references if they are happy to recommend you for jobs first!

If you choose not to include your references on your resume, you can simply write, “References available upon request”.

Tips for Writing a Great First Resume

Tip #1: Formatting is key

How you format your resume is super important because if your resume doesn’t look good, or at least organised, no one is going to bother to read it. And then they won’t be able to tell how fantastic you are!

This means you should be using a uniform font – my font of choice has always been Georgia but any font is fine as long as it is clear and legible. Group favourites when I asked my colleagues what font they thought I should use included Calibri and Arial.

You should also have headings!

For each of the sections in your resume, such as Work Experience and Volunteering, you should list activities below each heading in reverse chronological order (from most recent to least recent). This ensures that the most relevant information is what your prospective employer will first see!

Short and sweet is key so your resume should be 1-2 pages (without enclosed references). If you aren’t a fan of how Microsoft Word can alter your entire document by moving one text box, try using the free online program Canva!

Here’s an example of how you might want to format your resume:

Tip #2: Tailor your resume to the type of job you are going for

While it’s easy to have a generic resume that you can submit for any job application, hiring managers would rather see experiences relevant and specific to the job they’ve advertised.

So, if you’re looking for a job in food service, highlight any previous experience or skills which would convey why you would be great in such a role! For a role that involves working with children, highlight previous experiences such as babysitting – you get the gist.

My friend was applying for a job at Smiggle and used a rainbow design for her resume, in an attempt to cater to the organisation and it worked! However, most stores won’t love your rainbow resume and you should stick to just one colour (mine is navy!).

Tip #3: Always edit your resume!

Make sure your resume is free of any typos and grammatical errors! If it reads clearly and is easily scannable, hiring managers won’t have any difficulty going through your resume and seeing if your skills match the needs of the company.

Keep it up to date too, by including your most recent achievements or experiences – so it accurately reflects you!

Good luck!

Now that you know how to write your first resume, you’re one step closer to landing a job!

If you’ve just finished your HSC and need some help with your job hunt, check out our guide to getting a job post-HSC here!


Sophie Dyson finished the HSC and then realised she needed to get a job, fast. Her dad helped her to draft a resume and she proceeded to walk around 4 different shopping centres handing out resumes with friends. This landed her with a Christmas Casual position which she greatly enjoyed, and online applications landed her an ushering gig and her internship at Art of Smart! Sophie wishes you the best of luck in your job hunting and reminds you to be patient when applying for jobs.