With the unemployment rate hovering around 24 percent for teenagers, many may have to work extra hard to grab that part-time summer job this year.
"The job market this summer will be tough for all Americans, regardless of age. It is very possible that teens will be competing with adults who have been laid off or are coming out of retirement," says Joseph Peri, president of Junior Achievement New York (JANY), a nonprofit organization that brings the "real world" to NYC-area students through hands-on curriculum.
To help, here are JANY's guidelines for teens who want to land a coveted summer position.
1. Sell yourself through a professional resume. An updated professional resume, free of mistakes, is an important job search tool for young people. It should highlight work experience, or, if this is a teen's first job, include public service and extracurricular activities, along with computer skills and relevant course work.
2. Spring clean your personal brand and public reputation. Use an e-mail address that reflects you well, not one that may be silly, distracting, or offensive to prospective employers. Spend time reviewing and cleaning up your online profiles of any questionable images or postings in poor taste. Delete all inappropriate or offensive material from friends in your network to maintain a responsible, job-ready image.
3. Put social media to work. Teens should join LinkedIn, a professional social network, and join groups in their desired industry. Not only can teens post their resume, but often these groups will post jobs. Similar groups can be found on Facebook.
4. Use message boards. Teens should post their resume and search job postings on sites like Monster.com, SnagAJob.com, and Idealist.org (for nonprofits). Most of these online sites allow users to search by zip code for job opportunities. Teens should also use more traditional means like the classified section of their local newspaper.
5. Talk to everyone and anyone. Since job opportunities can come about at any time, teens should constantly network. E-mail friends, parents of friends, relatives, and teachers giving a brief description of the job they're looking for, or stating that they're available for any position.
6. Work the phones and pound the pavement. There's no better way for teens to find a job than to make some calls and stop by stores. Use the Internet to check to see if any businesses in your area have openings, and follow up with a visit. In industries with a high turnover rate, such as restaurants, jobs can become available any day at any time. Be persistent - and remember that the more you apply, the better chance you have of finding a job.
7. Go where the jobs are. Teens should think about which jobs are highest in demand during the summer. Working at amusement parks, baseball fields, ice cream shops, or on the beach are all great choices for the summer months.
8. Be prepared for the interview. If you land a job interview, you need to present the best version of yourself. Make sure you know the background of the company (research it on the web); develop answers to common interview questions; think of a few questions you could ask; practice a 30-second pitch of why you're the best candidate for the job; and dress conservatively for the interview. Remember: You can only make one first impression.
Can't Find a Job? Make One!
Consider being your own boss. If you're coming up empty-handed in the job search, take the initiative and start your own business. Whether it's dog-walking, babysitting, or landscaping, teens can use their skills to make money. Teens can print fliers advertising their services, including rates and contact information. Drop them off at homes in the area and ask supermarkets and coffee shops to post them on bulletin boards. This is an especially great idea for younger teens who may not have working papers.
Internships and volunteer opportunities are also abundant, especially in this economy where businesses are trying to cut back on costs. These opportunities may not pay, but they do offer hands-on experience for next year's resume and for one's future.
If your young teen is interested in becoming a camp counselor in training this summer, read about the benefits.
Also see: A Parent's Guide to Summer in the NYC Area