For most teenagers, finding a job in the best of times is an intimidating prospect. Trying to find a job during a pandemic or when unemployment is very high, however, feels impossible.
Lately, young people participating in our YOUTHWORKS! program have shared that they have not been actively job hunting because they assume that all the jobs will go to the adults who have been laid off due to the pandemic. Many young people feel overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to gain their first work experience.
We want teens to know that there are jobs available for them despite the pandemic. We also want to help teenagers understand that while no one knows when the pandemic will end, we all agree that it will end.
That's why we've put together this list of things that teenagers should know about trying to find a job.
When you’re sixteen years old, no one is expecting you to have an advanced or well-developed resume like you would at thirty. That's why many teenagers skip over this important step. However, developing a resume will help you stand out among other applicants for entry-level positions. It will also provide a framework for your future resume as you gain new work experience.
If you are building a resume and don't have any work experience, that's okay! You can focus on academic achievements or extracurricular activities. Entry-level positions such as retail or fast food are looking for initiative and a willingness to learn. Don't be afraid to show off your strengths and accomplishments.
Think About Your References
It is a good idea to reach out to people who can speak to your work ethic, character, and strengths. Consider including a teacher, school counselor, or a coach for a reference. References should be someone with credibility who can speak to your strengths. You should always ask your references for permission to include them in your references section so they will not be surprised if they get a phone call. Don't include family members or friends as references. Think about people with whom you have engaged with through school, extracurricular activities, or possibly volunteer work.
Prepare for the Interview
There are some great questions that you will be asked in most interviews.
- Why do you want to work here?
- What do you think your greatest strengths are?
- What do you think your greatest weaknesses are?
- Name something you're proud of.
- Where do you want to be in 10 years?
As you are preparing for a job interview, think about questions like these in advance. Be sincere in your answers and think about how you can offer value to the company you are interviewing with. Another great way to prepare for an interview is to come up with questions to ask the interviewer. A few great examples are:
- Tell me about the culture you are trying to develop.
- How would you describe the team and the working environment?
- What do your best employees say about working here?
By coming prepared with questions, you show the interviewer that you are interested in adding value to their company and their team.
Young people often make the mistake of thinking that if they turned in an application and didn't hear anything back, then they did something wrong or did not make the running for a potential job. However, applications can often get buried in the hiring manager’s email or on their desks. It shows initiative to follow up with the organization or company. Teens can visit the company in person or call over the phone and say something like, "Hello! My name is [insert name here] and I submitted an application for [job title] last week. I am just following up on my application to see if I can schedule an interview with you soon."
Following up shows initiative and helps you stand out. And once you get the interview, don't forget to send a thank-you card!
After every job interview, go straight home and write out a personal thank-you card. You don't need to write a book, just a simple note that thanks the interviewer for their time and expresses your enthusiasm to follow up on the opportunity. This is another great trick that will help teens (and adults) stand out from their competition when looking for a job.
We want teenagers to remember that there are lots of opportunities out there that are perfect for entry-level workers. Employers are always looking for great people who can add value to their organization.
If you are a teenager or know a teenager who could use extra resources on finding a job, getting a job, and keeping a job, visit our YOUTHWORKS! site to get more information about our online job readiness workshops and one-on-one career readiness coaching.