How to help your teen apply for a job

When is the right time for my child to start working? As we navigate new territory at our house I thought I’d share some insight on this and how you can help them prepare for applying for jobs.

1. The honest answer is it depends on the child. Our son recently turned 14 and expressed wanting to apply for a job so he could make his own money. While we hesitated at first and told him he should just enjoy being a kid, his persistence told us he was ready for this next milestone.

2. I brushed up on my resume writing skills (it’s been 15 years since I’ve worked for myself) but I didn’t do all the work for him. We discussed important aspects he should include and I helped him with proof reading, but let him take the reigns on design and text.

3. I remember years ago working with a popular restaurant. Every time I was there, moms were coming in with resumes (one even had laminated it) to apply on behalf of their children. I watched every single time the resume go directly in the garbage when they left. When I asked why, I was told if the person has to get their mom to apply for jobs we don’t want them working here. Is the mom going to call in sick for them too? Or call to get upset with us when their kid does something wrong and gets reprimanded for it? This was something that stuck out to me all these years later. While I helped our son prepare for who to ask for and what to say, I did NOT go in with him or help him in anyway.

4. Conversation is everything. If your child is not used to conversing with adults, prepare them ahead of time for the difference in conversation between their friends and grown ups. A please and thank you go a long way!

5. Make a list of jobs they might be interested in applying for and list the pros and cons. Sure it sounds fun to work with all your friends at one place but generally it’s not a good idea.

6. You will need a permission letter to allow your child to work at this age. A simple Google search will take you to a template copy to fill out (here in BC).

7. Be upfront with the employer if your child has other activities that need to be a priority (dance, sports, school, etc). It’s important to tell them up front so they know if it’s the right fit and if the hours work for them.

8. Prepare them for interviews. This is likely the first time they’ll be sat down and asked about their strengths and weaknesses! By helping them think about these things beforehand they will excel in the interview process.

9. Make sure it works for the whole family before you commit. Remember you will be the chauffeur, and with gas prices these days we let him know the furthest we’d be willing to drive him for work so there were parameters in place.

10. Use your connections to help them stand out in the resume pile. If you have a friend that knows the business owners, make sure you mention it! A connection goes a long way in the work force.

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