Written by Carol Christen
Friday, 16 April 2010 15:29

Picture of newspaper classifieds

Teens wanting to secure a job, internship, or set up several job shadowing sites this summer would be wise to spend a little less time texting (33% of teens text 100x a day) and more time researching possible opportunities.  While the economy this summer is better than last, seasonal jobs for youth are still hard to get.  Your success will depend on making lots of contacts. 

Don't expect to turn in one or two applications and be offered a job.  Be prepared to visit 50 to 100 employers.  Also, set aside time to talk with people already doing the jobs you want or already working for the employers you hope to get hired at.  These people can give you great information and leads.

Click  Read More for 10 Tips for a successful search for a summer (or fall) job

Below are the Top 10 Tips for a successful search:

1.  Get your paperwork in order. Employers usually want 15-17 year olds to have a valid work permit from their school.  If you don't have one, find out how to get one.

  • Get letters of recommendation.  Identify people who know you, have seek you work and with whom you have a positive relationship.  Go back to former employers, people who have supervised you in volunteer positions, teachers, coaches, neighbors you've worked for, etc.
  • While adults often state that their recommendations are available on request, have copies of your best two or three letters of recommendations to staple to all your applications.  On the spot reading of a glowing letter about your abilities will influence an employer more than a phone number.

2.  Talk with your former supervisors. Even if you don't want to work for a previous employer, if you left that employer on good terms, make an appointment to talk with your former supervisors.  They can bring you up to speed about your local job market, make recommendations as to new-to-you types of jobs you might apply for and tip you off to job openings they've heard about.  Be sure to send a thank you note (email or snail) to anyone who takes the time to talk with you during your search.  Ditto for intervers.

3 Know what you have to offer.  "Anything" is not a job title.  Unless your appointment is strictly for information, don't expect a business owner or manager to be an employment counselor to you during an interview.  Ask yourself...

  • What do I know?  What computer programs, machines, equipment or fields do I know about?
  • What can I do?  What are my best and favorite skills? What can I do over and over andnot go nuts?
  • What businesses in my town need someone who knows what I know or can do what I can do?  (Thorough research on this issue is often what separates the employed from the unemployed.)

If you don't know the answers to these questions, meet with several adults you trust and let them help you figure out what you have to offer an employer.

4.   Summer brings lots of seasonal activities.   Amusement parks, beaches, day and residential camps, city, local and state fairs, ball parks, tourist attractions, outdoor activities, landscaping, beaches, farms, food service and farmer’s market are just a few places that become more active in the summer.  Think about what activities you’ve been involved in for the last two or three summers?  What organizations run those activities? Go find out if they need extra help.

5.  Should you take any job you can get?   Employers and managers report that their biggest problem with young workers is getting them to show up.  If you don’t like what you are doing on your job or don’t like the people there and you aren’t desperate for the money, will you really keep showing up to work?

6.  Show you have the skills to do the job. Employers like to hire teens who can become productive with minimal training and supervision and who are dependable.  Think of stories from previous jobs, school projects, volunteer experiences, sports participation, ROTC, scouting, school attendance, 4-H, or other long term projects that show you can pick up new tasks quickly and follow through on your promises.  Tell these stories to your interviewer to demonstrate what you already know.

7. How do you find out who’s hiring?  More than 75% of all job vacancies aren’t listed anywhere. You find these jobs by talking to people in the businesses, fields or industries in which you hope to work. If there is somewhere you want to work, stop by and ask if they need extra workers.  And, if they have already hired their summer workers, but it’s somewhere you’d really like to work, stop by again in a couple weeks.  You just never know if someone had to move away or quit.  Revisiting shows you have a real interest in that job or employer.  Getting to know a manager may not pay off this summer, but it might help you get hired next fall or the following summer.

Yes, read the want ads, look at local job boards, but understand that these listings don't represent all the vacancies in your local job market and that you are in competition with everyone who can read for one of them.

8. Getting a job involves having meaningful conversations with adults.  Since your early adolescence, you've probably perfected the art of talking to adults without giving much information about yourself.  During the job search, this kind of information black out works against you.

Get a parent or adult you can trust to let you practice interviewing with them.  Practice your handshake  (it should be firm).  Get used to looking an adult in the eye (or just past their ears so you don’t appear to be staring),  Also, practice talking about the skills you have that you think would be used doing jobs you want and giving examples of how you’ve used those skills before.  Practice talking in complete sentences and not using teen-speak.

9.  Do you need a full time job? One advantage you have is that working 5 to 10 hours a week, at one or two jobs, may be enough.  Older workers usually want to work at least 20 hours.  Don’t hesitate to look for jobs that are very part-time.

10.  Get used to hearing “No.”  You’ll hear the word “No” a lot during a job search.  Don’t take it personally.  Each "No" gets you closer to "Yes." When you get frustrated, go do something fun for an hour and then get back at your job search.

If you can't find a summer job, look for an unpaid internship that will help you learn new skills, meet more people (who can become contacts for your next job search), get a new letter of recommendation and help you explore a new field of interest.  Treat an unpaid internship just like you would a paying job.  Otherwise, you've wasted your time (and your employers).

If you can't find an internship, spend an hour or two a week working on learning what you need to know to develop a detailed plan for life after high school.  A detailed plan increases your chance of success by 100%

For more information on how to look for summer work, do an Internet search using the phrase,teen summer jobs.”



#2 2010-04-23 13:26

Thanks for your comment. My thoughts on entrepreneurshi p will be up in the next post. Summary, if a teen has some organizational and interpersonal skills and can find a need, as the saying goes, "Go fir it!" Whether the venture is a success or not, there's great learning in the trying.
#1 2010-04-22 15:58
Great advice. I sent this to a few friends looking for jobs this summer. Its a tough market out there for teens this year.

I'd be interested to know what your thoughts on teen entrepreneurshi p or social entrepreneurshi p would be.

To clarify: If a teen can not find a job, or cannot find a job they like, would you advise teens to start their own business (or social organization?)