5 Tips for Teens Looking for a Summer Job

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It's the first week of April and summer is still a couple of months off.  There's plenty of time to start looking for that perfect summer job. Or is there? According to Dan Kadlec of TIME magazine, "Hiring managers are confident they’ll need summer help and they are filling temporary positions earlier—as in right now."  Additional good news according to Dan Kadlec is "After four years of tough competition for summer work from unemployed adults, teens will be competing more against other teens this year." So to help your teens get started, here are a few tips to give them an edge in landing that coveted summer job.

  • Establish summer goals - Whether your teen is looking to make extra money or gain some valuable experience during the summer, they should start out the process by establishing their goals for the summer. How much money do they want to make? What experience are they trying to gain? Be specific. Not sure? Sit down and brainstorm with them on things they might be interested in doing, what their skill sets are, and how much money they need to make based on their needs and wants.
  • Create a resume - It doesn't matter if your teen has work experience or not. A good resume distinguishes your teen from the masses and there are many things, such as school, extracurricular and volunteer activities they can highlight. Here are some tips for writing a teen resume.
  • Get some references - Past employers make the best references, but if this is your teen’s first time looking for a job, never fret. Teachers, coaches, pastors and other adult leaders make great references as well.  Have three references ready in case an employer asks.
  • Begin researching and networking - Remember, it's not about what you know, but who you know. Networking is the most important part of any job search. With goals and resume in hand, start talking to family, friends, and acquaintances about opportunities that align with their summer goals. The key is, let everyone know they are looking for a job.
    • Identify what industries are growing as the greatest opportunities lay here. According to Forbes, healthcare, technology and industrial jobs are three of the hottest job sectors in 2012.
    • The people your teen is talking to about references are a great start in networking and getting leads and tips.
    • Cast a wide net. Your teen should utilize their social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and if they don't have a LinkedIn account, now is a great time to create one.  Have them join LinkedIn student groups that can offer great tips and advice toward landing jobs.
    • Research community job boards, Monster.com, and other job posting websites for entry level work.  Craigslist is another resource to find many virtual jobs that can be done at home, such as telemarketing, graphic design, and social media work.
    • Walk the communities. Many times retailers and restaurants just put up help wanted signs in their windows. If there are particular businesses your teen is interested in, have them stop in and talk with the manager or owner even if they are not hiring at this time. This could easily open a door and place your teen first in line when an opportunity does arise.
  • Nailing the interview - Congratulations! Your teen has just landed an interview. Now comes the time to really shine and sell themselves. But they have only one chance to impress.
    • Practice makes perfect.  Make sure your teen is comfortable during the interview process by doing some mock interviews with you and other adults. This will help build confidence.
    • It's better to be overdressed than underdressed. Appearance is the first impression made and yes, employers do judge a book by its cover.
    • To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is unforgivable. That's what my mother taught me. Make sure to arrive early to the interview and have your resume and references in hand and finally…
    • Give a firm handshake, make direct eye contact and most importantly, be confident and enthusiastic about the position.

Following these tips will help make your teen stand out and ensure the greatest odds of landing a good summer job.  If jobs are very scarce in your area, help your teen create a job of their own. This country was built on entrepreneurism and creating our own opportunities. Whether its babysitting, mowing lawns or doing computer work for neighbors, the opportunities abound for those willing to take a chance. Here are some other ideas. Good job hunting!

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