Although the economy is definitely picking up steam, teen unemployment remains at an all-time high, with 17% of teen’s age 16-24 jobless and not enrolled in school. According to many experts, the outlook for 2013 isn’t showing much improvement for younger workers as unemployed adults continue to muscle in on jobs usually filled by teens, especially in the retail sector.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for parents of teens. In the past few years, their attitudes toward their teenage children working have changed. Before the recession hit in 2008, many middle and upper-middle class teenagers didn’t feel the need to get a job. Money for shopping, entertainment, and eating out seemed to be in abundance as parents dolled out $20 bills, sometimes, daily, so that their kids wouldn’t miss out.
Now, however, as more middle and upper-middle class families have seen changes in employment themselves, and less money coming in, parents are re-thinking the message they’re sending their teenagers. More and more parents think it’s important for teens to learn the value of a dollar and establish a good work ethic at a young age. The very best way to do this is through a job of their own.
What can your teenager do to increase their chances of landing a job in 2013 and how can you help?
Network like crazy. Kids should ask their parents if they know anyone who owns or works for a business that might be hiring teens. Utilize social media to put out feelers or get leads. Then, parents can help their teen prepare to contact that friend, or friend of a friend, and ask them if they could use some help with their business; and equally as important, parents should help their teen prepare for rejection. Rehearse what to say ahead of time and develop a good follow-up line in case they don’t hear an enthusiastic response from the person. Explain to them not to take it personally if the person isn’t aware of a job opening at that time. It’s vital to not give up. You never know when a position might open up, and the sheer fact the teen took the initiative to call might put them at the top of the list of candidates when a job does become available.
Get special training. Certifications in CPR or special first aid training can make a teen stand out in many types of jobs, including retail. Likewise, being proficient in Microsoft programs, like Excel and PowerPoint, is attractive for part-time positions in office settings. Many times, there is free training for computer programs available online and all it takes is a little time to do the research to find it, and then complete it.
Cast a wide net. In reality, searching for a job is a job in and of itself, especially if done right. That means putting in lots of hours and applying at many businesses. For big retails chains, teens can apply for jobs online, but remember, nothing beats face-to-face contact. Even if applying online, your teenager should make a trip to the local store with another copy of their application and ask to hand it straight to the manager, if possible. Help them be prepared on what they’ll say should the manager want to learn a little more about them on the spot. It only stands to reason, the more places your teen applies, the more contacts they make, the more prepared they are, the more likely they are to land a job.
Think out of the box. Think creatively and look for ways to make your job application stand apart from all the others that, at first glance, all look the same. One great way is adding Application Bling®. Application Bling® is a colorful sticker sort of like a post-it note that job seekers apply to a job application that highlights their goal plus best qualities and achievements. The colored sticker alone makes the application stand apart from the others in the pile but by adding their goal and accomplishments, your teen can make a great first impression. It’s especially smart for teens with little or no previous work experience as it enables them to bring attention to accomplishments they earned in school or during extra-curricular activies, plus it highlights qualities that an employer might find desirable, like taking ownership or being a people person. (They can also add special training as mentioned above.) Using Application Bling® shows initiative, and many times that is a quality an employer seeks the most from teen workers.
While there are many great life lessons your teen can learn from having a job, things like learning how to work as part of a team, understanding the value of earning their own money, learning respect for their bosses and customers, there are also important lessons to be learned from the job search itself. Dilegence and persistence are two qualities that will help your teen as they transition into adulthood no matter what career path they choose.