You’re a Teen Who Is Ready for Your First “Real” Job—How Do You Get Hired?
You’ve never had a job that required you to get a little dressed up, clock in, and work regular hours, but you’re determined to change that.
How do you make it happen?
First, if you’re looking to work your first “real” job next summer, you need to start applying for that work well before school lets out—six weeks or earlier. (See my very first blog post, “You Want a Summer Job but Can’t Land One. What Do You Do?”)
Also, follow a few basic rules when applying:
—Dress well, even if you are simply dropping by an establishment to fill out an application and don’t yet have an interview. Wear clean, ironed clothes. The nature of the work you are applying for will dictate, in part, how you should dress. For example, if you are filling out an application for a fast-food restaurant or grocery store, a pair of jeans, a nice shirt, and simple dress shoes should do the trick. If you are going for a job at a more upscale establishment, say a fancy restaurant or a women’s or men’s clothing store, upgrade those jeans to dress slacks, that shirt to a button-down number, and wear a suit jacket and shined shoes; young women may want to wear a nice, no-frills skirt and top combo with dress shoes or nice dress slacks and a professional-looking shirt (nothing low cut).
—Prepare a resume. Never having held a job should not prevent you from crafting a resume. Your high school years have provided you many experiences you can put on a resume. From playing football to cheerleading, volunteering to run the math club after school, babysitting children in the neighborhood, or providing piano lessons to neighborhood kids—all these activities qualify as experience that you can tout. You can also put down as references your teachers, mentors, and neighborhood adults you’ve provided services to. But first make sure they are happy to provide a reference and that they will say positive things about your attributes, skills, and ambitions.
Craft different resumes for different positions. For instance, if you’re applying for a sales job, put your experience selling the most cookies in the Girl Scouts above your experience providing piano lessons to neighborhood kids. Bring your resume with you and drop it off with your application.
—Prepare for the interview. If you get an interview, prepare for it! Ask your parents, guardians, or other trusted adults to play-act the role of interviewer with you. They will ask you questions the interviewer may ask. This will allow you to think through your answers and provide the right ones to help you land the job.
Once you get the job, you must work at keeping it.
Now that you have the job, you want to work in it all summer long and show the managers that you are so good at what you do that they should hire you to work several hours a week during the schoolyear too!
How do you do that? Here are a few ways:
You show up to work on time every day.
You maintain a good attitude on the job.
You do the best job possible with all the work assigned to you.
You dress appropriately for your job every day.
You go above and beyond to exceed your manager’s expectations.
You fill in shifts when you can if a coworker is ill or can’t make it in to work.
You treat your coworkers and customers with respect and acknowledge everyone.
You follow all of your workplace’s rules.
It’s important to do well in your first “real” job. It can become the source of continuous money throughout the remainder of your high school years, which can help you later with college expenses. It is a great opportunity to learn how to behave professionally in a work setting, which can translate into success when you ultimately land in your dream career. And it can become the source of great job references and connections that can help you after college as you advance up the job ladder.
You’re on your way to careering!