Teens: Finding Your First Job


If you’re a teenager looking for your first job, a good place to start is in your own neighborhood. Many of your neighbors may have routine odd jobs like mowing the lawn, babysitting, even light housekeeping chores that you’d be perfect for. You may also want to look into retail jobs, food services (yes, that’s a fancy term for flipping burgers), and errand services such as pizza delivery. These jobs are good places to start a teen job search.

The trick is to act professionally, even if you’re only asking a neighbor if you can mow his or her lawn. What does it mean to be professional? Here are a few tips to help get you off on the right foot with any potential employer.

Dress up, not down. This is true whether you’re asking a neighbor for a job like babysitting or you’re trying to get that cool job at Abercrombie. Leave the tongue rings and nose rings at home when applying for any type of job.

Speak confidently. You don’t have to have any experience to land your first job, but you do need to make an employer feel as if you can be trusted with responsibility. So speak clearly and comfortably to show an employer you’re up to doing and trying anything.

Look people in the eyes. It’s hard to talk to strangers, especially when you’re nervous about applying for a job. It doesn’t help that teenagers have a bad rep for being, well, less than reliable. Looking people in the eyes will show that you’re confident and trustworthy. This is easier said than done, so you may want to practice by looking in the mirror before going to apply for your first job.

Take your time with any application you may have to fill out. Definitely do not rush through and make a mess on an application. When you’re anxious, it’s easy to rush and make mistakes that you have to cross out. While this is entirely understandable, it can send a potential employer the wrong signal—that you don’t pay attention and will make mistakes on the job.

Make sure you have your Social Security card, driver’s license, and any necessary work permits with you when you apply for your first job. Many employers will want to see these to verify your age and eligibility for work. They’re also necessary for an employer to make copies of if he or she decides to hire you—and hey, better to be prepared than not to be. (Don’t you just hate it that Mom was right—again?)

How Can a Teenager Find a Job?
To find a job, you need to put some thought and effort into it. Few people, teens or otherwise, are lucky enough to land the job they want without putting some time and legwork into it.

One of the first things you’ll have to do is to decide what type of job you want. If you’re looking for a part-time job in retail, then you will need to go to stores you’d like to work at and fill out applications or fill them out online. To do this, you’ll need to have some references (names of people who will vouch for you). You’ll also need to have their addresses and phone numbers handy to write on the application.

You will also need to have your Social Security number and any working permits necessary with you when you fill out applications. Practically any application you fill out will require this information, so having it with you will save you extra trips, or from losing out on the job opportunity altogether.

If you decided you want an office position of some type, then you’re going to need to write a resume and cover letter to send to employers. You can find great sample resumes and cover letters online that you can easily adapt to fit you and your experience.

Don’t have any experience? Don’t sweat it. Few employers will be looking for experience from their younger employees. That’s one of the reasons they hire entry-level people, so they can train them themselves. Just don’t ever lie on an application or in an resume, thinking it will help you get the job. Recruiters can spot a lie a mile away, and even if it slips through, you’ll likely get busted on the lie somewhere down the road.

Now where are some actual places a teenager can find a job?
Here is a quick list of places and businesses for teens to look for a job:

  • Classified ads in your local newspaper
  • Online job sites like Monster, HotJobs, etc.
  • Restaurants
  • Kennels
  • Veterinarians
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Bookstores
  • Music stores
  • Neighbors

Finally, don’t forget to ask your parents or your friends’ parents for job leads. Many times all it takes is a word from the right person inside a business to land you the job you want. Just be aware that when someone helps you get a job, you owe it to them to give the job nothing less than 100% of your effort. To do less will not only let your employer down, but the friend who helped you get the job as well.

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