Job Search, Interviews & Questions To Ask Before You Look For A Job
Let’s get real! Most teens can’t wait till we’re on our own. We want extra cash in our pockets to do things or buy things we want. That means a job. We need to prove that we’re responsible and willing to work hard. Employers look for kids who’ve shown previous initiative, dedication and responsibility.
Sometimes you might be too young or unskilled for certain jobs. Don’t let that deter you. You can volunteer or take an internship, paid or unpaid, to learn those skills. Then the next time you apply for a “paid” job (see Paid Jobs section) you can show your experience and skills.
Volunteering (see Volunteering section) and Internship (see Internships section) are also great ways to explore a field you might be interested in. You can ask the professionals questions, observe the environment and see whether it might be the right type of career for you.
Check out our section on Job Ages, Wages & Rules, to see what you are allowed to do based on your age. Also you should know the minimum wage and be aware of the taxes (see Teens & Taxes section) you might have to pay. Be prepared to ask yourself, and answer, some serious questions before you start.
Questions To Ask Before Looking For A Job
- What are your time commitments and current work load, which should include: academics, sports, clubs, family, social and other activities? Make sure you can fit the job in.
- How many hours and when can you work: part time, after school, weekends, evenings, summer?
- How do you plan to get to a job?
- Paid or Unpaid: Do you need to make money, or can you volunteer or get an internship that will give you experience, but no money?
- What do you like to do?
- Do you like to be indoors or out?
- Would you prefer physical labor, or using your head (not always exclusive of one another)?
- Are you comfortable on your own, or would you prefer to work on a team or in a group setting?
- What are the skills you can bring to an employer?
- Can you create your own job?
Job Balancing Act
During our teen years we’re busy with school, friends, band, sports, and family and other activities. So if you take a job you have to learn to prioritize and get organized. You have to be committed to the job. So the job needs to get to the top, or near the top, of your priority list. You can’t call in sick or miss work for a baseball game or to hang with friends. You need to make as much of a commitment to your employer as you hope he or she will to you.
Write a resume (see Building A Resume section). If you want a summer job, start early. Some summer camps start recruiting in the fall. Check the local newspapers and the Internet. If you’re looking for a part time job, ask your parents, teachers, school guidance office or friends if they know of a job opening. Let everyone know you are looking for employment. Walk the streets of your community to see if a store or business has a “help-wanted” sign.
If you want to work for a specific company, and it is a large one, check out their website. Learn as much as you can about them. Their website might even have a place for career information or job openings. Find out the name of the head of Human Resources (HR), and their address. Send them your resume with a cover letter.
If it is a small local business, call up or walk in and ask to speak to the manager to see if there are any current or future job openings you might apply for. If you walk in, make sure you’re appropriately dressed—and bring your resume.
Job hunting is a business in itself. Don’t be discouraged. You might have to contact many people, and send out numerous resumes. Every job provides some kind of experience. Once you get there, work hard, be responsible, show initiative. Volunteer, ask questions, and learn as much as you can. Don’t complain, be pleasant. If you have done a good job, ask for a letter of recommendation when your job ends. If your boss loves you, he or she might recommend you to another person or company. This is how you start networking. Remember, your reputation is everything. A good one builds on itself, a bad one… you guessed it. Finally, remember Uncle Sam (see Teens & Taxes section). If you’re getting paid, you probably need to file a tax return (hey, there are even some benefits and you might even get some money back).
Job Interview Tips
- Dress appropriately and conservatively
- Be well groomed
- Be polite and respectful
- Do some research on the company
- Look the interviewer in the eye, don’t fidget
- Keep your answers to the point
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Find out as much as you can about the company before your interview
- Know about the job you’re interviewing for and be sure you have the skills listed. Make sure you can point out the skills you have that match what the employer needs. Be able to show how you’ve used these skills in the past.
- Be prepared! If you walk into a store with a help wanted sign to inquire about the job, make sure you’re ready to be interviewed on the spot.
- Employers are looking for someone reliable who will show up when scheduled and a person who is willing to learn.
- Don’t be afraid to point out successes you’ve had and the skills you possess that would make you the ideal candidate.
- Know what hours you can work and be prepared to be flexible. Clearly articulate to the employer when you are available to work.
- Find out about salary scales. How and when are raises given? Are they based on job performance? Do all employees get raises after they’ve been on the job for a specific period of time?
- What opportunities are there for advancement?