Getting a part time job is a rite of passage for most American teens. It’s a great way to earn extra money that can be saved for college expenses, buying your first car, but especially important on Friday night when you want to go to the movies with your friends!
It seems like it would be easy for most teenagers to get a job but that isn’t always true.
Many of my friends have found out the hard way just how competitive the job market is for teenagers. Some have been trying for more than six months to find a position. Having a job as a teen is more important than ever if you want to prepare well for your financial future.
In the last two years of blogging I have had the privilege of speaking with and interviewing a number of business owners and hiring managers from all over. As I continued to have these conversations I noticed a few ideas repeated over and over by these employers when I asked for their best advice for teens seeking a part time job.
Although the process can seem overwhelming there are 5 practical steps you can take, even as a young teen, that will help you secure an awesome part time job. None of the steps are that difficult but they will take a commitment from you. Obviously, I can’t guarantee that you will get a job immediately but if you stick it out and put in the work I can say that you will stand out from all of the other applicants!
Complete the application thoroughly and be neat.
It might seem silly to even have to say that but the managers I have spoken to say they get incomplete applications every single day. Guess what happens to those applications? Yep, you guessed it, they get thrown in the trash. And you don’t want that to happen to you. Be careful to fill out everything accurately and completely. Use your best handwriting if it is a written application.
Some business owners say they get 10 – 20 applications a day on average. They just don’t have time to follow up with a teen that won’t take the time to fill out an application carefully. It would be a good idea to have a friend or family member look over the application before you turn it in just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. At the very least double check it yourself and correct any errors.
You know your favorite shorts and that tank top you love to wear? And those really comfy flip flops you’ve had for 3 years? Don’t even think about it! Even if you are just stopping in to pick up an application you need to dress appropriately. One of the managers I interviewed said that he has had young people show up in swimsuits to drop off an application. Surprisingly, he didn’t call them in for an interview…
That said, you don’t have to wear a business suit either. If you are picking up or dropping off an application wear business casual clothes. For the guys it might be a pair of khaki pants and a shirt with a collar. A nice blouse with a pair of pants or a skirt would be perfect for the girls. Dress shoes are not necessary but definitely leave the flip flops at home!
You might want to step it up a bit for an interview but it may not be necessary. A nice business casual outfit will probably be perfect for most teens. Unless you want to intern at a law office. You will probably want to pull out the suit and dress shoes at that point!
Prepare a resume
I know, I know. You are in middle school or high school and you don’t have anything to put on a resume. Right? Wrong! A high school resume can be an important part of getting you that dream job! As a student you most likely have accomplishments and have been involved in activities that demonstrate leadership abilities. When a hiring manager sees the resume you have prepared it lets them know a little bit more about who you are. It shows that you have taken the time to go above and beyond to demonstrate that you can be a good employee.
Letting them know about any volunteering you have done is also an important part of a high school resume. Again this shows something about your character and demonstrates that you are going to be a great addition to their team. And the time you spend putting a resume together is never a waste because you can include it in your college application packets as well!
Research the company
At this point your perfect application has been reviewed and your high school resume has gotten the attention of the hiring manager. Dressing well has made a great first impression when you dropped off the application and you have gotten an interview! Now what?
Make sure to take the time to research the company before you go to the interview. Read a little about how the company got started, what their mission statement is, and how they invest back into their community. Having even a basic knowledge about the business will help you be more prepared for the interview.
Many times at the end of an interview you will be asked if you have any questions about the job or about the company. You can’t ask an intelligent question if you know nothing about the business! Once you have done a little research write down a few questions that you can ask during the interview. This small time investment really shows that you want the job. Looking super smart is just an added bonus!
If you are anything like me you are going to be really nervous when it comes time for the interview. The good thing is that the person interviewing you understands! However, you still need to make an effort to do the very best you can to be confident, know the right things to say, and be well prepared.
The best way to do this is to practice. Ask a parent or a friend to sit down with you. Let them ask the questions an interviewer might ask and practice answering. It would be even better if you did this with more than one person. You can even look up what the most popular job interview questions are so you know what to expect and can practice answering those specific questions.
There is no way you can anticipate everything they might ask but a little practice will go a long way to helping you be as prepared as you can possibly be!
These steps will go a long way to ensure that you get a great part time job. Being persistent is also a big factor in determining if you get a job or not. You can’t just go in once, drop off an application, and get the job the next day. You might have to go in ten times to prove how serious you are but it will be worth it in the long run!
Eva Baker founded TeensGotCents to help herself and other teens discover tips and advice on preparing for a stable financial future. When not discussing smart shopping, handling high school and college expenses, finding a part time job and getting the most out of life, you will find her cuddling her cat, watching Netflix, or pinning ideas for her wedding. You can connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest!
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