7 Ways to Help Your Teen Find a Job

barista making coffee

Is your teen planning to get a summer job? When your teenager needs money for items ranging from pizza to paying college costs—then it’s probably an opportune time to give him or her some tips on finding a job. Here are five ways to assist your teen.

1. Tap Into Local Job-Hunting Resources

Did you know that many communities offer “Youth Job Academy” workshops at no cost? For example, the Community Services Division in many cities will periodically hold resume-writing and interviewing skills classes for local teens. The workshop leaders will typically evaluate resumes and hold mock interviews. Some will even offer certificates of completion. Workshop leaders may also notify participants of job fairs and work opportunities within the community. (The Division’s staff members might also help workshop participants identify paid and unpaid internships in many fields of interest.)

Once your teen has a basic resume in hand (which likely doesn’t have any work-related experience yet, but lists basic skills gained in school), it can serve as a guide for how and where to begin the job search. If your teen has strong reading and language skills, or logged in hours working on the school newspaper or yearbook, a job or internship in an office or working as a tutor might be a good fit. This may also be true if your teen has strong math skills and was a member of a math or science team. It is important to teach your teen that, through school and extracurricular activities, he or she may have acquired what are known as "transferable skills" - skills that transfer to the job market.

teen washing dishes at restaurant

2. Find Out What Type of Work is Available

In the Internet age, job searching has mostly gone online. However, there is some merit in checking the classifieds in the local paper or checking out the businesses in your community and visiting them to explore job opportunities. Stopping in at different shops, restaurants, and other businesses can help your teen get a “feel” for whether it’s the type of atmosphere where he or she may thrive. Teach your teen to keep an eye out for “HIRING NOW” signs posted in shop windows. Also, ask around at the high school and community colleges/career counseling offices to determine which organizations are looking for help.

3. Help Pare Down the Possibilities

With so many possibilities out there, it may be tough for your teen to know where to begin. Many teens already have a good idea of what holds their interest—whether it’s working with kids at a gym, working with animals in a pet shop or animal shelter, preparing meals, or handling a cash register. Start by making a list of possible jobs and employers (e.g., gymnastics facilities, restaurants/hotels, and local supermarkets) and their websites. Next, suggest that your teen put the list in priority order.

teen working at grocery store

4. Advise Your Teen to Fill Out Apps Online

Most application forms are posted on various companies’ websites. There are some employers who ask applicants to print out the completed form and bring it into the place of business. If this is the case, your teen can sign, seal, and deliver that application to the employer’s location.

5. Follow Up

An employer may call your teen with an update on his or her application. However, if your teen has not heard from anyone in a reasonable amount of time, then encourage following up with potential employers via phone. At that point, your teen will be told what the next steps are, whether they need to call back the following week or next month.

6. Encourage Creative Thinking

When the going gets tough, young people can learn to use some “out of the box” thinking. If your teen can’t find a regular summer job, don’t fret. He or she can be resourceful and try a little ingenuity. Maybe dog-walking, pet sitting, or plant-watering may be in order—especially with so many people heading out of town on summer vacation!

7. Look Into Volunteer Opportunities

If your teen has exhausted all the paying job leads and still can’t get hired, maybe it’s time to pursue volunteer work. In this way, your teen will get valuable experience that may actually help toward gaining future employment. It’s also a great way to “get a foot in the door” of some industries.

Aided by your positive attitude and gentle guidance, your teen will have a good, fighting chance of landing that first job!