How to Write a Resume (for Teens) Part III – Work Experience

Link to Parts I and II.

Purpose of First Job
Most teens are thinking about working for money to purchase something, perhaps a car, a degree, some novelty, whatever. That should be of secondary concern. Primary aim is to learn skills and to develop good work habits.  So perhaps the barista stand job will pay you more than say, Starbucks, but you’ll probably pick up better work habits and learn more working at the latter.  Think long-term, the habits, mindset and attitude you acquire from first job can have significant impact on lifetime earnings!  So pay attention to the reputation of each business.  Read their yelp reviews.  It pisses me off when teenagers wander around seeking a job, any job, just so they can have a job and some money.  Put it this way, when I review your work history and notice that you’ve worked at places with poor Yelp reviews filled with complaints about “nice but slow and spacey” employees, your resume gets trashed.  And there’s a reason why my employees who have been with me for over a year are highly desired by local business owners.  They know they’ve been tested and have developed good work habits.  They’re faster, more efficient, more tenacious, focused, intense, etc.  Put simply, pay attention to work culture.  If it isn’t challenging, where people are constantly pushing each other to be better, don’t take the job.  Not worth it, you’ll learn too many bad habits that’ll ruin you regardless of career you ultimately choose.

No Work Experience
Some of you reading this don’t have work experience.  So to most businesses, you’re useless, you’re likely to produce negative value (your fuck ups cost a lot of money to fix).  Fine, offer to work for free then.  Think of it as getting a free education and something to put on your resume.  If you think that that’s wrong and demeaning, that your labor is actually worth something, then start your own business.  Mow lawns, sell lemonade, walk dogs, sell porn, pick up dog shit, sell crack cocaine, whatever.  Prove your worth.  If you can’t prove your worth, work for free.

Side note: most teenagers I’ve seen can’t prove their worth on their own.  The year it snowed for a week, teens spent all week sledding down my hilly block (making road trecherously slick).  It didn’t occur to any of them to offer shoveling driveways and part of the street so cars can get up and down the hill (keep one side for sledding).  They could’ve made good money for just an hour and two of “work” per day and I and my neighbors would’ve felt warm and fuzzy giving them our money because we all really want to believe that average American kids today aren’t indulgent, lazy, dumbasses who can’t even handle a paper route because someone decided it’s ok to praise them throughout their formative years for tying their fucking shoes.

Volunteer Work at Church and School
Probably best to skip.  Likely to teach bad habits.  Few are willing to get on someone who works for free and nothing is at stake (working for free — interning — at a for profit business is a different matter because your fuck ups have serious consequences). Volunteer once you become good at something and learn to care about standards.

Selling Your Work Experience
Once you have work experience, you have to sell it.  Listing it isn’t good enough, you have to sell it as something valuable to others.  If possible, use metrics.  Check this out:

– Worked as cashier.
– Stocked inventory
– Cleaned bathroom as needed


– Handled 50% more sales and 40% more transactions per hour than average cashier, while maintaining lowest error rate.  (In other words, this person is fast and makes few mistakes)
–  Improved product search and tracking efficiency by 10% through reorganizing inventory of 40 items.
– Maintained health standards by inspecting sanitary conditions whenever possible.

Whom would you hire?  Who thinks about the value of her labor?  Who knows how to sell?  Who is engaged with work?  Which will pique interest of employer?

Random Thoughts on Work
Most of you will learn more at work than at school.  Twenty years from now, most of you will forget about calculus, historical facts, difference between metaphor and metonym, and so forth.  Most jobs, including being a millionaire, require an 8th grade education.  Don’t let them fool you into thinking that you have to have a college degree to become successful and wealthy.  All you need is grit, ambition, and good work ethic.  Most of you will not learn any of those traits at school.  Most schools teach its best students to become stupid, needy, self-righteous, and bored.

So take work seriously.  More seriously than you take school.  At most schools, you can bullshit your way to a “B” (because the teacher just doesn’t care). Not so easy to do that at work, where there may be serious consequences to each one of your fuck ups. And choose where you work carefully.  The reason why chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White are great is because they worked at the best restaurants during their formative years.  The reason why most cooks at Red Robin will never become great is because they’ve acquired poor habits and the best restaurants know that.  Which is why they don’t hire anyone from such places.  The best surround themselves with the best, are constantly trying to learn from the best.  Everyone else just work for a paycheck.  Figure out which life you want.

Next section on Education, Hobbies, and References.




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