Helping Your Teenager Find a Job

Even with cold temperatures, now is the time for teens to start looking for a summer job.  You might find that motivating your teen can be frustrating as they do not see the urgency of starting the job search so early.  We find that helping teens understand the process that employers go through can be helpful, such as 1) employers gather applications for a period of time; 2) employers then review those applications; 3) they conduct background checks; 4) conduct interviews; and 5) then begin making offers.  All this takes time!

We also emphasize that finding a job is a process for the teenager:

Step 1: Reviewing the adolescent’s expectations for summer employment.  Before your teen decides on jobs to apply for, your teen should have some sort of an idea what he is willing to do.  Are retail jobs acceptable?  Will he consider fast food?  How much money does he wish to make?  Does he have a goal of earning a particular amount of money?  What hours is he willing to work?  Does he prefer to work with peers his age or is that not a factor?  Does he want an inside job or prefer to work outdoors?

Having this conversation is critical because you can gauge how realistic your child is being given age and qualifications.  Let’s say your daughter declares she does not want to work typical teenage summer jobs, i.e. retail and fast food.  Perhaps the thought of babysitting interests her because she thinks it would be less rigid and be more fun.  Potential problem!  I don’t know about you, but taking care of kids for long periods of time can be a challenge.  Does she like being around children for long periods of time, or will she be bored or frustrated after the first week?  I have heard some teens say they want to babysit because it is easy, only to come to find out that they have no prior experience.  Yet they think working 20-30 hours per week would not be so bad.  It likely depends on many factors, how long will they babysit for at any one time?  What are the children’s ages?  If your teen has limited babysitting experience, then starting off slow is great—fewer hours at a time at first.  Helping your adolescent really understand the job duties is critical.

Step 2: Available jobs.  So, your teen probably wants to “make as much money as possible!”  Given their expectations from Step 1, what kind of jobs are available?  Do the available positions match their expectations from Step 1?  Do the employers have flexible hours to allow the teen to balance other activities and interests?

Step 3: Balancing work with other obligations.  Although summer is a wonderful time for teens to earn money, it is also a time for other activities, too!  Do they have school requirements or service projects that need to be completed during the summer?  Does your teen plan on traveling with friends on their family vacations or going on their own family vacations?  Are they participating in church trips?  If so, how will this affect their availability and what jobs would be most flexible with their schedule?  The summer is also a good time for teens to enhance their college applications with some volunteer activities.  Most importantly, remind your adolescent to schedule some vacation time if that has not been factored in.  It is summer after all!

Step 4: Finally, begin applying for as many positions that your adolescent thinks would be a good match given all these considerations.  Set a deadline for them to turn in their applications so they do not procrastinate.  It is much harder to find a job the longer you wait!