By April, many high school students are already longing for summer. Prom and final tests are mile markers along the homestretch of the school year, and they're also cues for teens to start searching for summer jobs.
Before the recession, many employers were begging for workers, says Rick Parker, senior vice president of marketing for Snagajob.com, a job-hunting website with a focus on hourly positions. "But it's a different ball game today," Parker notes, and teens often compete with older, more experienced applicants for the same jobs. Parents can help teens get a leg up on their competition by applying to summer jobs now using these tips from Parker.
1. Take the job search seriously: Many teens may not realize the amount of time and effort that goes into applying for jobs, Parker says.
"Teach your kids that job No. 1 is the job search itself," he says. For example, teens may think applying to five jobs is sufficient, Parker notes, but they should apply to 10 or even 20 positions.
2. Be flexible: In a bleak economy, teens can't afford to be picky when applying to jobs. Parker says many teens limit their job search to about a 10-mile radius, but if they can, he says they should also consider positions farther from home.
And while working in evenings and on weekends isn't always ideal for teens' social lives, the ability to do so is very important to hiring managers, Parker says.
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3. Network: "Lots of people want to help," Parker acknowledges, so "Parents should encourage their kids to let friends, family, and neighbors know that they're looking for a job. You never know where that connection is going to come from."
4. Coach your teens: "Make a list of where to apply, and take them through mock interviews, proofread job applications until they get the hang of it, [and] have them practice their elevator speech," Parker suggests.
Practice is particularly important for teens applying for their first jobs, Parker notes, and those teens should mention past experiences such as babysitting and volunteering on their applications.
Parents should also remind their teens to be happy and agreeable when talking with a potential employer. At many summer jobs, teens are representing the company, perhaps by working at a retail store behind the cash register, Parker says.
In those positions, teens become the "face of the company," he adds, "So it's extremely important to employers that the job applicant has a positive attitude."
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