Your summer job: put it on a resume

Working at a summer job during high school or college can be the start to building your career. Summer jobs provide income, work skills, awareness of which tasks you like or don’t like, experience managing your own money, and more. Translate that valuable summer work experience onto a resume using some of these ideas.

Basic skills matter to employers

Lots of employers value basic skills, so it’s appropriate to include them on your resume. These skills include being on time to work, showing up for your shift on holidays, taking your job seriously, interacting respectfully with customers and co-workers, and working with dedication and commitment.

Amusement park cashier selling ticketsSee if you can recognize any basic skill gaps in this quote from a cafe manager who fired two of her high school age employees: “They never get in on time. Early in the day, our kitchen is really busy, so short staffing means orders are slow to arrive which makes customers unhappy. If I ask them to chop an onion, it takes 5 minutes. I talked to them several times, but I just reached the end of my patience.”

Imagine what qualities that employer will look for in kitchen staff applicants, such as “Excellent follow through on tasks. Punctual and reliable. Learn quickly.” Include your own basic skills on your resume.

Dig up meaningful details

Here’s a list of questions to consider to help bring out experience and skills to include on your resume:

  • Did you get any kind of training to learn the job?
  • Learn any safety practices?
  • Have you gained customer service skills?
  • What basic skills did you practice? For example punctuality and follow through, or critical thinking.
  • Did working require you to balance other aspects of your life? That can be expressed as ”Balanced schedule of work, sports, and volunteering.”
  • Were you responsible for keeping customers safe and enforcing operation rules?
  • Many summer jobs are team oriented. Did you participate in a team, gain teamwork skills, or work with a diverse group of co-workers or customers?

What tasks did you do?

Check out these descriptions of common summer jobs. Select the job title closest to what you did this summer, and scroll down to the last section on the profile page, “What you might do in a day.” This lists out the typical tasks for the job. Use some of these to help write up your summer work experience. For example:

Dishwasher – What you might do in a day

  • Clean tableware.
  • Clean food preparation areas, facilities, and equipment.
  • Store supplies or goods in kitchens or storage areas.
  • Remove trash.
  • Stock serving stations or dining areas with food or supplies.
  • Wash dishes, glassware, flatware, pots, or pans, using dishwashers or by hand.
  • Maintain kitchen work areas, equipment, or utensils in clean and orderly condition.
  • Place clean dishes, utensils, or cooking equipment in storage areas.
  • Sort and remove trash, placing it in designated pickup areas.
  • Sweep or scrub floors.

Action verbs help make your resume more polished

Here’s a list of verbs to help you write action oriented statements on your resume. Instead of writing “had” or “did” or “tried” – use verbs that are more specific and interesting. Some of these verbs may help you describe your tasks and accomplishments more precisely or interestingly:

  • Coordinated
  • Managed
  • Completed
  • Stocked
  • Handled
  • Improved
  • Achieved
  • Resolved
  • Organized
  • Wrote
  • Updated
  • Ordered
  • Recorded
  • Scheduled
  • Helped
  • Answered
  • Assisted
  • Contributed
  • Demonstrated
  • Trained
  • Maintained
  • Collected
  • Built
  • Calculated
  • Communicated
  • Operated
  • Responded
  • Contacted
  • Explained
  • Interacted
  • Participated
  • Promoted
  • Produced
  • Planned
  • Identified
  • Provided

Learn more about how to write a resume on CareerOneStop.

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