Tips for High Schoolers Looking for Jobs

Getting a job with no experience can be intimidating. The 2010 US Census finds that only 28% of students above age 16 work part-time in high school.

High school is a time when people are expected to meet certain milestones in their path towards becoming an independent adult. One of these milestones, and perhaps one of the more important, is getting your first job. It can seem impossible to pass yourself off as a professional person when really you’re just a student. Here’s some advice backed by adults who are really in charge of hiring people.

I don’t have any work experience, and there are plenty of older people that do. How can I compete against them?
It’s true–you’re at a severe disadvantage with no solid employment history. As a result, you’re going to have to apply to a lot of places before one is willing to take a chance on you. However, things you list on your resume don’t have to be “real” jobs. Walked the neighbor’s dog for 3 months? List it and ask the neighbor to give you a reference. Anyone who can testify to your responsibility, honesty, and readiness to work is a valid reference — just don’t list family members, who would obviously be biased. Think about extracurricular activities and volunteer work you’ve done. Are you part of a youth group? List that. Anything you’ve done for someone else can be used to help make your resume look a little more complete.

Apply plenty of times, and to jobs you think you would be suited for.
Think about your personal strengths and what you would be best at. Friendly and good with people? Capable of heavy lifting? Knowledgeable about fashion or technology? All of these should influence where you apply. Furthermore, you’re going to have to apply a lot of times to make it somewhere. Luckily for you, Raleigh is a large city, and plenty of places are hiring right now.

Honesty and gumption will get you in the door.
Be confident and pleasant (and give the impression you’ll always be that way). Be honest with how hard you’re willing to work, if you’re willing to work hard. Dress nice during any face-to-face encounter with the business, smile, make it clear you’re a reasonable person and willing to take direction. Have your resume ready when you walk in, and say that you would like to inquire about employment. Try to do this when the business isn’t busy- bothering them with your resume during the dinner rush won’t be appreciated. That being said, many places will simply ask you to apply online, which will save time for both you and them. Once you’re sure your application has been submitted. All that’s left to do is wait and see if you’re called for a face-to-face interview. If it’s a place you really think would be a good fit for you, it might be a good idea to give them a call and ask what they thought of your resume.

You’re there for the business, not the other way around.
Employers don’t bother with employees only willing to give the bare minimum– there are millions of people like that. Always give more than is expected. If another employee is having a trouble handling their workload, help them. Ask what else you can do to help the business. If you show that you’re loyal to the business, your employer will make sure you have incentive to stay around.

Make sure you’re able to manage your educational activities if you pick up a part time job.
Working for minimum wage can teach you the value of an education. As a student, your primary job is learning and growing. Your extracurriculars and grades shouldn’t suffer for a few more hours of working for $7.25 an hour. Remember to consider just how bad you need a job, and whether or not you can keep up your academics if you have one.

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