Once a rite of passage into adulthood, summer jobs for teens are disappearing. Fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold jobs such as running cash registers, mowing lawns or bussing restaurant tables from June through August. The decline has been particularly sharp since 2000, with employment for 16- to 19-year olds in the 25% range in most states, according to the Department of Labor.
So if you are a teen, or have a teen, looking for a summer job, here’s some good advice from the experts on how to land a paycheck this summer.
Prepare a résumé. Even if you have little job experience (mowing yards, babysitting, etc.), list it to show you are industrious. Include references from your employers, but keep the résumé short, on white paper and in an easy-to-read format. This is no time to get creative (unless you’re applying for work at an art gallery or ad agency).
Dress as if you are going to an interview. Maybe not a suit and tie (or maybe so, depending on the job) but do wear clean, neat clothes like you might wear for school photos. Then stop by some local businesses and ask to fill out an application in person. Online applications can be overwhelming for some employers. If you show up in person, it means you are serious. Don’t be discouraged if the manager tell you to apply online. You tried.
Be professional, even if you’re applying for a job as a bus boy. Don’t reek of tobacco smoke, don’t chew gum and don’t wear a lot of perfume or aftershave. Comb and style your hair neatly. Remove any unusual or attention-getting piercings. Be polite, don’t interrupt and don’t ever swear. Go alone. You probably act less mature around your friends and you’ll appear too child-like if you take your mom. See more tips here.
Look for “help wanted’’ signs. Again, stop in and talk to the manager. Show him or her that you’re a good people person. Shake hands and look people in the eye when you talk to them. Smile.
Look for jobs at seasonal businesses. Tourist attractions or related businesses like hotels and restaurants sometimes need extra help during busy times. If you get the job, make the commitment to finish it — don’t ditch the company halfway through the summer because you’re tired of working. That won’t look good on your next résumé.
Check out local job fairs. Here’s another chance to impress an employer with your willingness to put yourself out there. Look at the list of prospective employers who will be at the fair and target those you think might actually hire you. Before you approach a company, do your homework. Know what the company does and what kinds of jobs it might have.
Ask for a business card. If you get to talk to a human resources person, a recruiter or store manager, ask for their card. Make notes on the back (“says to call him by Memorial Day”) to remind you of your encounter and to follow up. Maybe even have cards of your own printed on the cheap so your contacts have another reminder of who you are.
Thank them for their time. Acknowledge that your new contact is a busy person, and that you appreciate him or her taking a few minutes to talk with you. You’ll leave a good impression.
Good luck, and happy job hunting.
Photo by Basketman, freedigitalphotos.net.