Basic Job Search Techniques for Teens: How Parents Can Ease the Process
Some kids are naturals when it comes to attracting money. They appear to have been born with an entrepreneur gene and show early signs of being junior business people. It may start as innocent as the neighborhood lemonade stand, progress to selling pencils to students at school, and go on from there.
Look at the creativity of some of our past youth during their college years-first there was Bill Gates with his technical genius about computers, and then there was Mark Zukerberg who became a millionaire with his idea of a social network. Well, at least he was the first to bring it to fruition.
These are the kids that parents don’t have to worry about prompting to “get a job” because they are already chomping at the bit to start. They can’t wait to reach sixteen, which is the usual age for acquiring a paid job with a company. They have a goal and a plan to get there.
Ambitious teens are the ones who realized what the power of money could do for them and they put their minds and energies into making it happen. From babysitting to dog walking to lawn care there are many early teen jobs available for those interested in working. They may only pay a token amount of money, but the rewards are gaining confidence and experience.
Unmotivated Job Seekers
There are other teens, however, who are not as ambitious, who have no desire to get a job, for whatever reason, and who need to be prompted, cajoled and pushed into even having a discussion about employment.
As parents, it is up to us to instill the importance of good work habits before our teens reach that magical age of employment, but in our depressed economy, it is a very difficult thing to do. So many adults are out of work they are taking the positions that were previously filled by college students during their summer break. Thus, college students are now scrambling for the ‘starter’ position jobs that had usually been an easy find for high school students.
So, what can a parent do to prepare her teen to experience the workforce? Here are some goals for your inexperienced job seeker. First, realize that even if your child NEVER gets a job, the experience of asking for and completing applications is a first step in the working world. If they get to the second step, sitting for an interview, it is an even bigger accomplishment.
Check out the Want Ads
Where to Look for Work
1. Discuss the logistics-many teens who want jobs don’t have transportation. Have a talk with your child to see what is practical. I recently bought my nephew a new bike because he does not drive. My logic was to enable him to bike back and forth from town if he was hired locally and I was unavailable to drive him.
2. Have your teen make a list of possible places to work. Then, add a second choice list. As the process continues, encourage her to add more places if these do not pan out. Again, the competition is steep, but that does not excuse you as a parent from walking your child through these very important steps. It will teach her that it is a norm.
3. Make a point to discuss with your teen where to look for work: businesses, newspapers, online career centers, like Monster, and networking through neighbors and relatives are some of the suggestions you can offer.
Making a Positive Impression Begins With Good Hygiene
First Impressions Count
1. Support your child in taking that first step of ‘asking for an application’. My nephew is extremely timid and anxious about meeting people, especially if he has to ask for something. It is almost painful to watch his discomfort. I supported his efforts by giving him encouragement that he can do it, while acknowledging his discomfort. I also gave him examples of my own experiences from long ago. After the first several visits into a business, he was feeling more relaxed. Let’s face it; the way to get over this fear is by ‘doing’, not by ‘avoiding’.
2. Clean up and dress up-even when it is just asking for an application. First impressions are so important. Instruct young men to shave before their job search and change out of shorts and jeans. Casual dress should be the look that is presented to the manager of a company your teen is applying to. Young women should have their makeup and hair neat and not overdone. Dress should be appropriate with no low necklines or tight pants/skirts. It is important for your teen to return the application in the same manner: dressed to make a great impression; dressed to start work.
3. Review manners-teach your child to be polite, speak clearly, and look the manager in the eye when delivering his request for an application. Handshakes can go a long way. Teach your child when to extend her hand and how to make a good impression with a firm and confident handshake.
Computers Can Help With a Job Search
Applications and Resumes
1. Write a resume: most high schools teach this in business classes, but if this is something that your teen has not had there are computer programs, as well as books, that can teach the basics of resume writing. In my own situation, I have recently searched for a new job and my nephew had first-hand experience of what steps were necessary in the quest.
2. Make a cheat sheet on a 4 x 6 index card with pertinent information such as social security number, dates of volunteer work, reference contact numbers, etc., as a quick reference and in case he is asked to complete something on the spot.
3. Complete the application-once he has the application remind him to complete all questions, write legibly, and to keep the paperwork clean prior to its return. I bought J a two-pocket folder to help him organize his applications and information.
The Finished Product
Persistence Will Pay off
1. Keep moving your child to do something in her job search each day. Whether it is obtaining more applications, or filling them out; following up with a phone call; or returning to the organization when the summer staff returns to college, there is always something that your child can do.
2. When there is an interview offered help your child prepare for this by setting up a mock interview. Everyone has to start somewhere, but there is usually much anxiety to think of sitting across from a strange adult and not know what they will ask. Review common questions and help him practice his responses.
3. Thank you notes-teach your teen the importance of following a meeting with a thank you card. It may seem like an outdated gesture, but the impression will be a lasting one.
Dress to Make a Good Impression
It's the Journey, Not the Final Destination That Counts
I would like to re-emphasize that regardless of what the employment situation is in our current economy it is important that by age 17 your teen begins the process of a job search. It is not the outcome that is important, but the experience and comfort of knowing what to do when the time for a job is really going to count: following graduation. If your son or daughter understands the basics of what it takes to get a job they are more apt to move towards independence with confidence. It is part of our job as parents to encourage and support these efforts.
© 2011 Denise Handlon