Job hunting is never easy, but getting your first job as a teenager can be especially challenging. Hiring managers and employers may have negative biases regarding your employment availability due to age-related labor restrictions or school commitments. They may also question your professionalism and reliability. To overcome these assumptions, you’ll need to present yourself in a mature and professional manner during the job hunt. Throughout this guide, we’ll provide you with expert tips to help you secure your first real job.
Create Your First Resume
Although many of the jobs you’re pursuing won’t require a resume, going the extra mile to create one can help you make a positive first impression on prospective employers. Even without any work experience, you can still create a document that draws attention to your education achievements and involvement within your community. While you may struggle to find relevant content, the goal is to get your resume as close as possible to the one-page mark. Remember that you can feature coursework, academic projects, and extracurricular activities to give the hiring manager a better understanding of your unique background. For additional resources, you can visit our page on crafting resumes for teenagers.
Gather Necessary Documentation
Once you have your resume prepared, you’ll want to secure all the necessary documentation you’ll need for your job application. You’ll need to gather your social security number and bring some form of identification with you. You can obtain either a passport or photo ID if you don’t have a driver’s license. Depending on the age restrictions within your state, you may also need to provide a document signed by your parent or guardian allowing you to pursue employment.
Dress Professionally When Applying for Your First Job
Hiring managers will already have many concerns about hiring a teenager, especially regarding professionalism, so you’ll want to dress appropriately when applying for your first job. Showing up to apply for a job in jeans and a t-shirt may send the message that you don’t care enough to put the effort in should they choose to hire you. If you dress professionally during the application process and make a positive first impression, employers may be more willing to take a chance on bringing you in for an interview.
Prepare Yourself for the Interview
With anything in life, practice makes perfect, and preparing for the interview is no different. Refining your pitch can make all the difference in whether or not you land your first job at the onset of your career. Practice your responses to sample interview questions using tangible examples from your academic experience or extracurricular activities. For example, if you’re asked about your team leadership qualities, you may be able to point out an academic project that you took the lead on or your experiences as an athlete on a high school sports team. Having some ideas prepared beforehand will make you feel more confident when it comes time for the interview.
Apply Online and In-Person
You’ll want to apply to as many opportunities as possible to increase your chances of securing employment. At this stage in your career, applying in person may be more beneficial, as it allows you to introduce yourself to the manager beforehand. That said, countless entry-level positions are listed online every day, so you will want to use a combination of both to reach out to a variety of different companies.
Don’t Get Discouraged by Rejection
Unfortunately, rejection is a part of the job search and something you’ll need to move past while seeking to land your first opportunity. The important thing is to avoid taking a rejection personally or allowing it to discourage you from applying for other positions. Candidates are rejected every day for a multitude of reasons, and it’s important to remember that with diligence and perseverance, you’ll ultimately find the right fit for your skill sets. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback after a rejection, as the hiring manager may be willing to provide insights that can help you improve as you move forward.
Leverage Your Connections
Although you likely won’t have industry connections to leverage at this stage of your career, putting the word out amongst your friends and family may help you to uncover available opportunities during the job hunt. Asking around regarding job openings in your area is a viable strategy, as someone you know may have a connection at a company that’s looking for new team members. Putting yourself out there is another job search component, so don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.
Send a Thank You Note Following an Interview
Even at the entry level, you’ll be surprised at the amount of competition you’ll face while applying for jobs. Hiring managers often review large volumes of resumes and applications each day and sending a thank you note following an interview is a small touch that may help you to stand out from the applicant pool. Employers value candidates who are polite, respectful, and courteous and going the extra mile to send a thank you note, or email will speak positively to who you are as both a candidate and as a person.
Prioritize Time Management
If you’re a high school student looking for your first job, you’ll want to be careful with time management and your priorities. It’s important to take your work responsibilities seriously, but you don’t want your first job to supersede your academic success or long-term goals. Maintaining open lines of communication with employers regarding your availability and school commitments is important to ensure that you don’t overwhelm yourself during this transformative phase of your life.
Stay Positive and Don’t Give Up
Landing your first job is a huge accomplishment and milestone for teenagers, but you’ll need to stay persistent throughout the job search. This is a valuable learning experience, and you may make some mistakes along the way. Maintaining a positive attitude is important when dealing with a lack of interviews or handling rejection. Remember that job opportunities come and go many times over the course of a person’s career. As long as you remain patient and diligent during your search, you’ll be sure to land the position that is right for you.