Teens love to have spending money in their wallets thanks to part-time jobs. But the benefits of getting a part-time job are actually much greater than just a matter of finances. Parents, educators, and even employers themselves have observed that teens who work part-time jobs develop a stronger work ethic and learn valuable skills like time management, customer service, communication, organization, and even leadership.
Furthermore, a job is something teens can add to their resume, which will look good when they’re applying to colleges, future jobs, internships, and other opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that for every year a person works as a teenager, they have a 14- to 16% higher income when they’re working in their 20s.
But the process of getting a job? Well, it can be a little bit daunting for teens who are starting the hunt for the first time. And for some parents, it’s been so long since they got their first part-time job that they don’t remember the experience all that well and want to help.
Need some guidance? Here’s what you should know ahead of time:
1) Teens should be doing everything (or as much as possible) for themselves
It’s tempting to hold your teen’s hand through the whole process. But a part-time job is about establishing independence and building confidence. When Mom or Dad makes the phone call to see if part-time work is available, then asks all the questions about the application process, their kid isn’t going to learn how to solve problems for themselves later.
If your teen needs assistance with something minor (for example, proofreading their resume), give them your full support. Just make sure they are being the go-getter throughout the process. In fact, most employers want to see teens who are independent—if they get the sense that a parent is doing too much to help their kid, that’s a red flag and could count against the teen in the hiring process.
Once a teen lands the job, this same rule still applies. Need to reschedule a shift? The teen needs to be the one to discuss this with their boss.
2) They should know their availability before they start the search
Teens are busy! There are often only small windows of time when they’re available to work. Employers understand this and are willing to be flexible. But teens need to be honest about how much time they’re able to commit to a job.
Between school, clubs, sports, and other obligations, a teen might only be able to work from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays—but if they say they have full availability and the employer hires them for the weekend shift, then that doesn’t work out well for anybody involved!
Bear in mind the Fair Labor Standards Act dictates teenagers ages 14 and 15 cannot work during school hours and are limited to three hours on school days and eight hours on non-school days. They cannot work past 7 p.m. during the school year and cannot work past 9 p.m. during the summer. They’re also limited to 18 hours a week during the school year. Once they turn 16, teenagers have more flexibility and can work as many hours as they wish.
3) Teens should understand their first job might not be that glamorous
That’s not to say teens won’t like their part-time job—many of them will probably find they learn a lot, have fun with their coworkers, and take satisfaction in what they’re doing. But there will be times when a job gets tedious, demanding, or undesirable in some other way. They also might be making minimum wage or only a little bit more.
4) Put together a resume
Not every employer is going to require a resume from a teenager, but they’ll definitely be impressed if an applicant comes prepared. Although first-time job seekers won’t have any work experience to put on their resume, they can still include volunteer work they’ve done, school clubs they’ve been a part of, sports they’ve played, or their GPA. All of this demonstrates they are responsible and honor their commitments.
It’s also typical for a resume to list references. Encourage your teen to reach out to at least three people who have overseen them in the capacities they’ve listed on their resume and ask for permission to list their name and contact info.
Even with a resume, teens should still be prepared to fill out some sort of application form, either in person or online, for certain jobs.
5) Job opportunities are all about networking
Yes, even from a young age, having a strong network helps a lot. In some situations, teens can find out about openings because local businesses are advertising them, either by a sign in the window or on social media. But in other situations, they might find out about a job because they simply ask.
Encourage them to reach out to neighbors, teachers, relatives, people from your church or house of worship, coaches, and other people they know. There are even some managers or business owners who will create a part-time position for a teenager if they see the interest is there.
6) The in-person interview is a chance to shine
After applying for a job and maybe talking to their potential boss on the phone, teens will ultimately have to pass the final part of the job application process: the in-person interview. They shouldn’t see this as something to be nervous about. Instead they should be excited to show their boss who they are.
If they want to nail their interview, they should remember to dress nicely and turn their phone off ahead of time. During the interview, they should demonstrate confidence by sitting up straight, making eye contact, and not fidgeting. If they don’t understand a question that’s asked of them, it’s okay to ask for clarification or to take a moment to think about an appropriate answer. Afterward, they should be sure to thank their potential future boss for their time and consideration.
Remind your teen to be open to surprises and remain tenacious; and remind yourself not to do the work for them.
Article written by Dylan Roche