Job Search 101

There are many reasons why teens get a job in high school. Some get jobs to contribute to their family’s finances, others get jobs to fund personal expenses or to save up for college. Some even get jobs to gain valuable work experience. One thing we know for sure is that having a job in high school actually helps young people gather valuable information that will be helpful as they make important career decisions. 

But conducting an effective job search isn’t a skill we are born with. It takes intentional planning and preparation.  For many teens, they are not taught the critical skills and steps it takes to get a job offer. We have curated a comprehensive list of articles, videos and resources to help teens be effective in their job search. 

First things, first. Teens can check their level of readiness with this Job-Search Readiness Quiz for Teens: Are You Ready to Get Your First Real Job? 

If there are lots of “no” answers, no worries. We have the information students need to learn to get ready!

Ask people how they got their jobs. It is really interesting to hear the details. You’ll learn about connections they made through relatives and friends, or a chance meeting. Maybe the traditional cold-call landed them a job, or even more rarely, a posting on an internet site.  For teenagers, learning how to job search is an important part of career development. They must be taught the steps it takes to get one, because it isn’t always as easy as asking Aunt Mary for a connection or inquiring after seeing a “help wanted” sign.  Learning how to conduct an effective job search is a skill they will use throughout their life. 

Spending time reading these articles, and reviewing the resources provided in each step, will equip students with the information they need to pursue employment. 

  1. Pre-Work (see below)
  2. Gather the Necessary Information/Documents (see below)
  3. Resume Writing Worksheet: The Five-Steps to Developing Your Job-Search Resume
  4. Tips on Filling out Applications
  5. Networking to Find a job
  6. Dress for the Interview
  7. Job Interview Questions, Answers and Tips
  8. Thank You Note - After The Interview - Video

When students decide it is time to get a job, a bit of pre-work has to be considered before the first application is filled out.

Questions to consider:

What kind of work would fit my interests? If one loves technology, why not pursue an entry level position in a video game store, Best Buy, maybe even a computer recycling center.  Working in an environment that aligns with an interest not only increases engagement, but also allows for additional skill/knowledge building  or can lead to promotions. Starting as a nutrition technician in a hospital allows students to get an inside view of the hospital, while also learning about positions they may have never heard of. Free “interest tests” are available online to help students narrow down industries. Most schools offer career development software to assist students. Ask a counselor for information.  Many careers have evolved from a person’s entry level position.

What employer might have positions that fit my availability? Location? Some employers have evening and weekend hours, which are great for high school students. They will probably be more flexible and are willing to work around extra-curricular activities. Getting there is another consideration.  If you need to ride your bike, or take a bus, making sure the employer is an easy commute should be a consideration. It will make life a lot easier if you don’t have a long commute across town. These are the types of questions to consider as you make a short list of potential employers.

In order to efficiently complete an application, it is recommended that you bring the following information with you when applying for a job in person, or have ready to go when completing online applications. 

  • Driver’s license, passport or photo identification
  • Work Permit
    • If you are under 18 years old, you will need a work permit to be eligible for employment. These work permits are issued by your school. Check with your guidance office, as a first step. The work permit will need to be completed and signed by your parent/guardian and then provided to the employer that would like to hire you.
  • Social security card (not just your numbers)
    • You may get hired on the spot, so have this important document ready so that the employer can process the necessary paperwork needed to make you an employee
  • References
    • Have the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of 3 adults that will give you a good recommendation.  Ask permission first, and let them know you are applying for jobs. Examples might be teachers, coaches, adults that have hired you for babysitting, lawn work or that you volunteered with recently.
  • Work History Information
    • Applications ask for your work history, so take a few minutes and write down the jobs you’ve held in the past. If you have a resume, you will already be ahead of the game.
    • Include the company name, dates, and your job title. Make a few notes of the things that you did while working. 
    • If you haven’t had any previous paid employment, be sure to include things like babysitting, lawn care, volunteering or other activities you were involved in. These demonstrate skills and experiences that will be of interest to your future employer.

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