As a teenager, looking for your first part-time job can seem like a difficult task. Finding a job is hard to begin with for anyone. When you haven't had any experience in a workplace, have never been through an interview, and don't know where to start with writing your first resume, the task can seem even more challenging.
Tips for Finding Your First Part-Time Job
What’s the best way to find your first job? It can be difficult, but it's definitely not impossible. If you take it one step at a time, you'll soon be employed. Here are some tips for finding your first part-time job.
Preparing for the Job Hunt
The most important steps to getting your first job take place before you even head out the front door. You need to prepare for what you're about to do. Taking the time to prepare will make the entire process much easier.
Put Together a Simple Resume
You probably won’t need a resume for a basic first part-time job unless the position is an internship. However, it will be useful for you to have a document ready to promote your background as you network with contacts or make in-person prospecting visits with employers.
You are probably wondering what to put on a resume if you haven’t worked before:
- Highlight any experiences that showcase discipline, commitment, and willingness to work hard. Employers of teens will be looking for indications that you are mature for your age and will follow through.
- Consider referencing any activities which you have pursued inside or outside of school. For example, involvement with school clubs, dance or music lessons, and participation in sports.
- Leadership positions with school organizations are particularly attractive to employers, as are volunteer projects in your community, which show character.
- Odd jobs done on a freelance basis like babysitting, yard work, snow shoveling, paper routes, or painting can be listed.
- You can also reference any school projects, advanced courses or academic competitions which you participated in.
Need help getting started? Here are tips for writing your first resume, with advice on what to include and an example.
Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have much to incorporate. After all, it is a first job. Do make sure your document is error-free and cleanly presented.
Tap Your Network for Leads
Networking is always a good way to get started in the workplace. That means using people you know to help you find a job. You never know who may have an opening that’s a perfect fit for you. Here’s how to get started:
- Reach out to any of your friends who are employed and inquire about their experience on the job. Do they have a good relationship with their manager? Is it a nice place to work? If so, ask if you could visit their workplace while they are on duty and receive an introduction with their supervisor.
- Ask your parents if they have contacts at local employers who might be hiring. There are other ways your parents can assist with your job search too.
- Contact neighbors, teachers, counselors, coaches, ministers, and family contacts and ask for suggestions about people or employers to approach.
- Ask for introductions to any promising individuals.
Employers are much more comfortable hiring young people who are endorsed by a trusted person.
Make a List of Places to Apply
Of course, you can also consider employers where you don’t have any contacts. You can use websites that focus on posting part-time positions for teens to find part-time jobs in your area, but there are many other ways to find employers.
You can walk through accessible areas of your town looking for "help wanted" signs. But remember, not every business looking for an employee will have a "help wanted" sign in the front window.
Put on your list of places anywhere that you think would be fun to work, and go get that job. In many cases, walking in at times when the employer is not too busy and asking to speak with the manager is the most effective strategy.
Make sure you prepare a short introduction regarding your related skills or qualities and emphasize your willingness to work hard.
Be Prepared for Rejection
Before you apply anywhere, you need to prepare yourself for rejection. Nobody gets accepted at every place they apply for a job. As a first-time job seeker, you need to be prepared to be turned down.
There is a right and a wrong way to respond to a business owner or manager who says they have no need for you. If you get a, "No, I'm sorry," respond by saying, "Well, if you do need someone in the future, please give me a call. I'll leave you a copy of my resume. Thanks for your time."
This shows the manager that you are serious about getting a job, and you have demonstrated the ability to follow up.
Be Ready for an Interview
When you apply for a job in person, you may be asked to interview on the spot, or you could be invited to come back at a scheduled time in the future.
Because you don’t know when you’ll be interviewing, it’s always a good idea to take the time to prepare in advance. You should also review the most frequently asked job interview questions employers ask teen job seekers.
What to Wear to Apply and Interview
Make sure that you are well-groomed and appropriately dressed when you head out the door. You don't need to be in a suit, just make sure you look presentable. Making sure your grandmother would approve of what you’re wearing is a good guideline to follow. Be sure to:
- Wear neat and tidy clothes.
- Avoid shorts, flip-flops, and ratty sneakers.
- Not wear a hat.
- Put your phone on silent.
Go to each of the employers on your list, walk in the door, and ask for that job. Keep your head up, maintain eye contact, have a firm handshake, and be confident. Employers look for certain qualities when a job seeker walks in the door.
Foremost of those qualities is the candidate's ability to communicate. When communicating with a manager, demonstrate that you are eager to get the job.
Follow Up With the Employer
Following up after an interview is probably the most important part of getting a job. Employers look for candidates who have the ability to follow up because it shows a willingness to get involved and be responsible.
Always make a follow-up call or get in touch with the potential employer. Usually, it's best to wait about a week to make a call, and when you do, do your best to get on the phone with the person who will be hiring.
Don’t be afraid to go back in person to the same employer if you'd really like to work there. You can say that you are touching base to check on the status of your application and emphasize how much you would like the job. All things being equal, employers will often reward enthusiasm.