Job Application Tips for Teenagers

Two teenage students searching for jobs online.
••• Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Are you a teen getting ready to start applying for jobs? Do you need some guidance on the best way to apply for jobs, secure interviews, and get hired?

Teenagers applying for summer work, or part-time jobs during the school year, should be aware that how you apply can make the difference in getting hired. Your application needs to be completed accurately and legibly, or you can expect it to get tossed into the reject pile. Leaving off important information can have the same effect.

Whether you're applying in-person or online, it's important to provide all the information the employer requests.

Before you start filling out job applications, be sure that you take the time to find out what information you will need to provide to prospective employers.

It’s a good idea to put together a resume, even though many employers won’t ask for one. It will give you the opportunity to organize and categorize your experience, and can be useful when filling out applications to maintain consistency and accuracy in filling in your work dates and experiences. Plus, it’s good to have a starting point that you can add to and edit as you gain experience over the next few years.

Practice filling out an application before you start actually applying for jobs. Here's an example of a job application you can print and use to get started. If you're not sure about something on the application, ask for help from a family member, guidance counselor or friend. If you take the time to practice filling out an application, you'll do better when the real thing comes along and increase your chances of getting hired.

Top 10 Tips for Teens Completing Job Applications

  1. Whenever possible, take the application home or fill it out online, so you don't have to rush while sitting in an employment office or at the front of a store. Make a list of all the informationyou need to include in your application prior to filling it out. Not sure what to say when you need to pick up an application for employment? Here's how to ask for a job application.
  2. Neatness counts. Have a friend or parent with nice handwriting help you fill out your paper applications if your handwritingis subpar. If you have access to a copy machine, make a copy to use when filling out other applications, since they all ask for pretty much the same information, and often even in the same order. Or take a picture with your phone, so it's easier to apply next time.
  3. Show the employer that you can follow directions by filling in all sections of the application form. If you don't have information to put in a box, you can say N/A (not applicable). Review all of the questions carefully to make sure you understand what they are asking for. If you don't have formal work experience, it's fine to list jobs like babysitting or yard work, or even participation as an officer in a school club or student government. Request help from a parent or guidance counselor if you need assistance responding to any itemsthat seem confusing.
  4. Check your application for spelling and grammar mistakes and have someone else review it. Put your finger on every word to make sure it is correct, even if you are typing and using spellcheck.
  5. Make sure you emphasize the job responsibilities of your past jobs which are most relevant to your target position when completing your descriptions. For example, suppose that you only spent a fraction of your time generating documents in your campus job, but it will be the primary function inthe job you're applying for. List that activity first on the application when describing your campus job, so your key qualification is easily noticed. Use action words to lead your phrases when describing past jobs.
  6. Employers of teens value reliability, especially in terms of attendance and punctuality. Try to incorporate references to perfect attendance and punctuality, if possible.
  7. Don't forget to include honors or awards. Employers will likely perceive achievements like a competitive GPA or membership into the Honor Societyas evidence of a strong work ethic.
  8. Get a list of references. Most employers will request three or four references. People who can vouch for your work ethic and responsibility are fine to use as a character reference if you don't have employment references. You should ask several peoplewho might be willing to give you a positive recommendation, should they be contacted by a potential employer.
  9. Be prepared to furnish the names, job titles and contact information for your references. If you haven't held a formal job, consider asking families for whom you babysit or have done odd jobs, as well as teachers or coaches. Inform people ahead of time if you plan to list them as a reference so they won't be surprised if they get a call or email message from an employer.
  10. Check your voicemail. You will need to list your phone number on the application, so be sure that the voicemail message on your cell is suitable for an employer to hear. Check messages regularly, so you don't miss any calls from employers.

Also review this list of what not to do when you're applying for jobs, so you don't make a mistake that could cost you an interview or a job offer.

If you take the time to prepare in advance of putting your applications in, the process will be much smoother – and you'll speed up the process of getting hired for a new job.