Basic Job Search Techniques for Teens: How Parents Can Ease the Process

Updated on April 19, 2020
Denise Handlon profile image

Denise is a psychiatric nurse. She is passionate about writing, photography, travel, cooking, holistic health, adventure, and family.

Money Magnets

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

Newspapers can aid in a job search
Newspapers can aid in a job search | Source

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

Cleaning up is important before meeting a manager and requesting an application.
Cleaning up is important before meeting a manager and requesting an application. | Source

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

Some applications are done online.
Some applications are done online. | Source

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

Writing a thank-you note after an interview is an important step in making a lasting impression.
Writing a thank-you note after an interview is an important step in making a lasting impression. | Source

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

While a suit is not necessary for the initial application process, it is important to dress up.
While a suit is not necessary for the initial application process, it is important to dress up. | Source

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


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Susan, Thanks! I had my teen nephew in mind when I wrote this hub awhile back. He is FINALLY motivated to do this 'job application' and follow through. Like you, I have encouraged J to go back into the stores on a regular weekly basis to talk with the manager, show his face, show an interest, etc. When he went to do it this week told him he had to shave and change into his school clothes-dress casual. The other thing, we did a mock interview in case he did have an opportunity and was asked to give an on the spot interview he would be prepared.

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 

      7 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Denise, this a great hub. As a high school teacher, I see the anxiety kids have when it is time to get a job, especially in today's job market for teens. Having a mock interview with them is an excellent idea. The phone call or dropping in to check on the hiring situation is what teens do not seem to understand. I am always surprised when a teen tells me he or she dropped off an application but didn't follow up. I tell them to take the initiative and go in so the manager or owner will see how interested they are in getting the job. Placing a face with a name is going to make them stand out.

      Votes and shares! :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Adeuagustus-thank you for reading and commenting. I'm sorry it has taken so long to reply...there was a glitch that prevented me from seeing this comment. Best to you...

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks very much, interns, for your feedback. Nice to meet you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! It should be very useful for parents. I love your writing style as well - very structured and I believe parents will enjoy reading your hub.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! Thanks manthy, for your compliment and the votes.

    • manthy profile image


      8 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Good hub - I love this,it should have won some award.

      I'm voting it up and awesome

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Dawney, thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad that you found it useful and hopefully, when the time comes, the tips will successfully land your son a job. :)

    • dawney profile image


      8 years ago from California

      I enjoyed your hub and agreed totally agreed with it. I have a teenage boy who is rapidly approaching the age when its time to start thinking about a job. We talk about it often and I cant stress to him enough how important eye contact is and the benefits of a good handshake. I will be showing him this hub.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! I was taken by surprise to find out today that this hub was selected as the 'hub of the day'. That was nice in itself. I'm 'blown away' by the response and number of comments here. I'm grateful to all of you for the time you took to read and comment. Thank you.

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Congrats Mom on the Hub of the Day! So glad that this got the recognition that it deserves. I think that your tips are very useful to teens and adults alike when moving through the job search process.

    • tlsaecourse profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      A very helpful hub for teen job seekers. Congratulations your hub chosen as Hub Of The Day.........

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 

      8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day! Your article is very thorough and should help almost anyone during the job search process. Voted up and shared.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your examples motivated me, congratulations on being the hub of the day. Voted up and awesome

    • Mistyvermin969 profile image


      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Very good, informative hub!!!

      You are a great writer!!!

      I will vote up!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Congratulations on being selected for the Hub of the Day!

      There is some really good information on here! I am voting Up and will share. Nice job!


    • NiaLee profile image


      8 years ago from BIG APPLE

      Great useful hub. It reminds me of the advices that a Christian friend gave me.

      Yes, some people are really job makers. I will keep that hub somewhere and make sure I check my list any time necessary.

    • sassyk73 profile image

      Karen Anne Harris 

      8 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Wow...congratulations on the hub of the day. Very well deserved :) I am going to read this over again and talk to my boys. Very good ideas.

    • tchenruiz profile image


      8 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Congratulations on winning the Hub of the Day. My parents were pretty hands off. It worked for the older 2 kids, but didn't work for my younger brother. I forced my younger brother to get his first summer job, and dragged him to the bank, and co-signed a bank account for him. He hated me at the time. But he retired at age 30, now traveling around the world and pays my mom's mortgage. Can't complain.

    • hazelbrown profile image


      8 years ago from Central PA

      Great ideas! I wish I had been this well prepared as a teen - I would have gotten a much better job! Thank goodness I'm not earning $5.15/hour anymore :)

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A Johnson 

      8 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      It was extremely difficult looking for a job for my 15-year-old son this summer as hardly anyone hires before age 16, as you pointed out. He has ended up cutting grass for someone who is out of town for a couple months, which is certainly better than nothing. Hopefully next summer will be better when he's 16.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      8 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Great hub, my 9yo son is fairly entrepreneurial so I am not too worried about his willingness to go looking for a job. Conveniently we are within walking distance of a large strip mall, so he should be able to find a job there when the time comes. Great hub earning you a vote-up and useful.

    • troutdude profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the information and congrats! I can remember going through the same process when I applied for my first job and I also learned a few tips as well. Great job.

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Congratulations on being the Hub of the day! This is an awesome and informational post. You offer great ideas and advice for anyone who wants to find work. I especially like the idea of using the index card for quick reference.

      Thanks for sharing - Voted up!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      I was thrilled to see this as Hub of the Day! It seemed like you promoted Cara's delightful hub about Sesame Place in the Fan Faves contest last week at the expense of promoting this one, so I was particularly happy to see it get due recognition as Hub of the Day.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very informative and useful hub. I loved the way you arrange your topics in different subheadings.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great Hub Denise, every teen needs to know what it's like to go through a job search. You hit a nerve when you mentioned teens writing resumes, because that's what I do and, like you, I think it's so important that teens learn to develop their resumes. Voted up!

    • Grrr 3 profile image

      Grrr 3 

      8 years ago

      Very informative hub Denise, I also did some hubs about earning. Keep it up.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      tlpoague-thanks for reading and your comment about the piercing is very valuable. Since my nephew does not have any it escaped me. Great tip.

      Hi Flora-thank you. I appreciate your acknowledgement.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      8 years ago

      congratulations on being chosen hub of the day

    • tlpoague profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Congrats! Great hub with many useful tips to pass on. I would like to add that if your teen has any facial piercing, that they be removed before an interview. That was an issue my daughter faced when she went in for an interview. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Alladream74-thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      8 years ago from Oakland, California

      Very informative hub,good work.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for reading, fashion. Nice website.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Informative hub.Very useful to get a job.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Sundaymoments-thank you for your feedback. Me too. :)

      Danette-I wondered if you knew that story. He told me while I visited him one day here in NC. I wish I would have recorded more of his stories! Thanks for the vote. I'll tell J what you said.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Dee, I didn't know that story about dad.

      I know it's a tough job market out there - as you said, the adults are vying for the college grad jobs and the college kids are grabbing the HS jobs. Meanwhile, the teens are left hanging out to dry. Even tougher in a small town and few personal connections.

      Good tips here and good luck to J, voted up and useful

    • Sundaymoments profile image

      Matthew Dawson 

      8 years ago from United States

      Great Hub This hub was well laid out! I hope this hub helps others realize how to help and understand there children.

      Voted Up and Useful


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi WBW-thanks for your comment back. I know-they were probably doing 'everything right' and my dad's hire was part of a 'Greater Plan' which continued to unfold for him. :)

      Hi De-great seeing you here. Thanks for your input and my gosh, LOL no doubt there was at least SOME minor damage to the machine. But, quite the initiative!

    • profile image

      Derinda Weber 

      8 years ago

      Nice article Denise! We clearly remember the days of motivating our boys to find work. Very difficult when the teenagers are very involved in before or after school activities. When do they have time to work? How do they fit their time into the employer's schedules?

      Our youngest son had a very enterprising young friend,in middle school. One summer they started two very unique and successful businesses: collecting golf balls for resale at the golf club and repainting faded house numbers on the curbs in the subdivision.

      My son's friend is quite personable and at ease around adults; a great salesman. They made quite a bit of money for middle-schoolers during the summer. The best part is they were kept busy being creative.

      I enjoyed listening to indepth conversations and endless planning. Observing their excitement over the fact that the plan worked when they secured their first customer. Trips to the store for paint and stencils were well worth the effort.

      The only down-side was when they decided to use my washing machine and detergent to clean the golf balls. Spin cycle was quite loud and clangy and I'm not sure if the machine was ever the same.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Denise, I love that story. But it's a shame that all those in suits were probably told that's how they should dress for an interview in some book or some class they took in school. When I taught English, there was a unit on preparing for job interviews. Some of the books used in classes these young people took may have been out of date because dress standards for many jobs were relaxing. These people were probably doing what they thought was the right thing.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! Thanks everyone for your comments and congratulations. I didn't realize this had made the fave list until around dinner time when I got a call from cardelean. I appreciate the read and comments.

      WannaB-thanks for your perspective as a former manager. I have J use his school clothes for his job search-it's just the right touch of 'dress up' and not too dressy, as your young lady in the hat and gloves.

      I'll never forget the story my dad told me once about his job at his desired place of work. He was 18, a fairly new grad and had his heart set on getting hired into a tool and die shop as an apprentice.

      When he got the call to come down for the interview he headed out the door dressed to work with lunch pail in his hand. He sat in the waiting room with three other gentleman who were all dressed in their sunday best. The man who was hiring came out of his office, looked at the quartet and pointed to my dad. "you come with me," he told him, "the rest of you can go home"

      When my dad eventually asked him why he had picked him, his boss told him, "I could tell by the way you were dressed that you were ready to go to work. That's what I like to see in an employee"

      It was a cool story and made an impression on me. :)

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Very good advice. It's been so long since I've looked for work I would have had a hard time writing this, even though I used to hire people. I would only add that one should dress appropriately for the interview if you get that far, and that means also not overdressing for the kind of job you are applying for. When I managed a Hallmark store, where most of us dressed casually for work, a young lady came in wearing a tailored suit, hat, and gloves -- in Southern California --where I hadn't seen a hat or gloves in years unless it was at church on Easter Sunday. That isn't what prevented me from hiring her, but it made her stick out as one who really didn't understand the So. California culture of that time.

      Congrats on your Fav 14 win. Good luck.

    • JSParker profile image


      8 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Important topic. I hope the kids who need it, see it. Congrats on making it to the Fab 14! Best wishes!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      What fabulous advice! Giving kids extra tips on knowing how to search for and nab jobs is especially important today, so your Hub is both useful and timely. I love the fun photos, too!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      An encouraging guide for getting started on a very difficult challenge this day and age. Well organized and helpful photos :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Very comprehensive hub with some great tips for helping teens through the job hunting process. I agree that even if the search doesn't lead to a job this time around the teen will still benefit from the experience of writing a resume, applying and going on job interviews so that when it's time to find fulltime work after graduation he/she will be more likely to get job offers.

      btw: Congrats on makint it to the Fab 14. Good luck.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      8 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great information for anyone in the job market! This is perfect for people just starting that process.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Great job, Denise~ Congrats on making it to the Fab 14! Good luck in the vote-off!

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      very good - voted up useful and intesting

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi cw-that would be an added bonus for me. He is a troubled boy in many ways. It is complex. He does not really have friends. His school is his social place, but no one is interested in meeting him after. He is different in many ways and the kids pick up on this. It is really very sad. I don't think he will be able to hold a job, so...this is actually more a test. Thanks for reading.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      8 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      I have found with my daughters that it helps to have friends! Teenagers looking for college/holiday jobs look out for each other and will do off the cuff recommendations that we as asults would agonise over. I do hope he settles in a job that he is happy in!


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