At 23-years-old, I have a unique perspective on the best way to get a job as a teenager. I mean, since I have spent the last few years working in Human Resources. I want to help you because I see a lot of mistakes that are easily corrected. After all, the competition is steep, and hiring managers will write you off as being a cocky teenager if you don’t approach it the right way.
How To Find A Job
Every time you leave your house, look around. You come in contact with several part-time-summer-jobs every day. Stop into these businesses and start filling out applications. A lot of employers aren’t going to run expensive help wanted advertisements for these summer jobs.
So start by looking around your community. You have: car wash, grocery store, clothing store, ice cream shop, landscaping, dog walker, sandwich maker, babysitter, lifeguard, the list can go on. I have held many of these positions, and I remember them well.
Since you don’t have a huge resume of jobs to stand on, you’re going to have to get yourself in the door with your charming personality and your looks. Even easier, go in and ask them how to apply for a job, easy peasy.
What To Say When You Don’t Have Any Experience
Look, these are entry level jobs. The hiring managers don’t expect you to come in and know how to really do anything. But they don’t want to see some level of responsibility on your part. They need to make sure you’ll show up on time when you’re scheduled to work.
Tell them about your extracurricular activities. Tell them how you feed your neighbor’s cat when she goes to visit her sister. Tell them about that A+ you just got on that Math exam.
Show them that you care about things outside of sleeping in and playing games on your iPod.
Look Nice When You Pick Up Or Drop Off The Job Application
You were passed over in the past because you came in to collect (or turn in an application) in periwinkle Winnie the Pooh sweats. When this happens, we look at each other when you leave and drop your application in the “no” file without even looking at it.
Honestly, it makes me think to myself, “Were those your dress-up sweats, or do you just not care enough to want this job?”
Even when applying to the ice cream shop, how you present yourself goes a long way.
No bright, bright lipstick with your bright, bright eye shadow, and hot pink blush. Just… no. Less is more, I promise.
And, at least when you are going in to the business for the first few times to get and then return your application, no facial piercings. When you get the job, you can ask how they feel about your super cute diamond nose stud, and then put it back in when they agree that it’s so totally fetch.
This also applies to babysitting and dog walking. People have preconceived notions about piercings and visible tattoos. It’s not right, it’s not nice, but it’s life. So if you want a job where you’ll work in someone’s home or with their children, limit your metal.
No, no, no, no, no on the crazy colors! Don’t chalk the tips of your hair pink and blue right before you go apply for jobs. Don’t use Kool-Aid to dye your hair the day of your interview.
Most places have policies that say things like: natural looking hair color is required. Your hair doesn’t grow teal. Or pink.
Honestly, whenever I’ve come across this, when you leave, we will refer to you as the girl with the pink/blue/purple hair. We will not call you by your name. Again, it all comes back to professionalism in the work place.
Sorry, but truth hurts. And you know your mom told you the same thing when you came down the stairs looking like that.
So, yes to natural hair, no to crazy colored hair. And try to wear your hair away from your pretty face (don’t have bangs hanging over one of your eyeballs). Also, for the love of all that is holy, take a shower before you come in.
Ok, last thing, your clothes. Again, dress to nicely to pick up the application, to drop off the application, and for your interview.
Black or khaki dress pants and cute top will be fine for these types of entry level jobs.
- No cleavage, no tube tops, no spaghetti straps
- Cute shoes that are not flip flops
- No jeans
- No sweat pants or sweat shirts
- No yoga pants
- No booty shorts… no shorts period
- Nothing that says Victoria’s Secret “PINK”. We know those are sweats, we have the same things in our closets.
So far you know how to approach employers, where to look for jobs, and what you should look like when you get there. There is just one thing we’re missing, and that’s your personality.
I know how frustrating it is being a teenager. But here’s the thing, adults don’t like teenagers that think they know everything. I know you know everything, but don’t let the adults that are hiring you know that you already know everything.
My best personality advice is to smile, look people in the eye, shake people’s hands (practice this skill – don’t have a floppy dead fish handshake), talk to everyone, be polite to everyone (even the other store clerks/receptionists/dog walkers/lifeguards/babysitters – we ask for their opinions), bring a resume, and don’t be late for any interviews you land!
Ok, I have you all prepped for your job hunt. Good luck out there!
Have any advice for summer job seeking teens? What was your favorite summer job as a teenager?
Betsy Schmidt is a Midwestern 20-something, who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership & Management, works in Human Resources, and has hoarding tendencies (you just never know when you may need that bouncy ball from your childhood). Generation Y doesn’t get the respect they deserve, and she is working hard to change that, including co-writing a book on management. Follow Betsy on Twitter.