Focus for a Successful Teen Job Search:
Land the Job You Want

Perhaps the biggest mistake anyone makes when searching for a job is in not narrowing down their job search to begin with.  Looking willy-nilly, with no clear goal in mind other than to find a paying job, often gets people little for their efforts.  Teens are no different when it comes to this.

You know what I mean, here.  You drive over to the mall and go to fifty stores, filling out applications.  Or you drive down the restaurant row in your city and stop at each one to fill out an application.

And more than likely all you have to show for your efforts is writer's cramp and an empty gas tank.  Don't be discouraged—get focused.

This means settle on the kind of job you really want to have.  Maybe you're a book nut who would love to work at Barnes and Noble. Or maybe you're music lover or computer geek.  Then why are you filling out applications at every restaurant or daycare in town, instead of at the places you'd really want to work?

Okay, now that we have that out of the way and you've zeroed in on the sort of places you really would like to work, pick one or two to focus your attention on. 

Now go get or fill out those applications!  And when you do, make sure you get the manager's name.  This is so you can send a follow up note to express your interest in the job after you've filled out the application.  Many teens don't get the jobs they want or even get considered for the jobs they want because they don't do any follow up.

Follow up is key to landing the job you want.  Especially for young, potential employees.  There's a lot of competition out there and you have to make yourself stand apart.  And I'm not talking about doing it with that adorable nose ring either.  You want to send a card or neatly written note immediately after filling out an application or interview.  Immediately, as in the same day, and no later than the next day.

Keep the note clear and neat.  A simple thank you for reviewing your application and expression of sincere interest in a job is all that's necessary.  That alone will make you different from all the applicants who will either not follow up at all or who will be just a bit too clever in their follow up note.  Simplicity is the name of the game here—and it's a game you want to win!

Tap Into Your Skills
Sure, you want a job or maybe you need a job but no matter which situation you are in, did you know that much of your job success depends on you?

How often do you hear someone say, "What a break he got! That's the perfect job for him!" or "She was lucky to find a job she loves"?

Well, it might be a matter of luck but chances are, it was also a matter of knowing how to match up skills with the right job.

Complete these four statements.

What I love to do more than anything else is ________________.

People often praise me for my talent in ___________________.

I would love to learn more about ________________________.

If someone needed my help,
I could show or teach that person how to ________________.

By taking a look at those answers, you might have found a nugget of self-discovery which will help you narrow down your job search and which will help employers know why they should hire you.

Let's take an example. Let's say you love working with animals more than anything else. Then looking for a job as a dog walker, horse groomer, zoo worker, or kennel assistant might be perfect for you. Apply a bit of creative thinking and you might also consider helping to set up, clean and maintain home aquariums or you might provide pet car services to neighbors while they are on vacation.

If you don't feel you have the particular skills needed for a job then consider what it is you would like to learn. If you think you might like to own a restaurant someday, then get the "hands on" knowledge by working in catering or in the kitchen. If you think you might want to be involved in police or emergency services work, then learn what kinds of jobs you might fill that will get you as close to the "action" as possible. Working as a security guard, park monitor or life guard can give you a good feeling of what is required to work in a career with high public contact and in situations which require alertness to your surroundings.

Once you have identified some skills or desires, then you'll be much better prepared to go job hunting. For one thing, you'll now have a motivation beyond the paycheck and for another, that spark of inner drive will also be seen by potential employers.

Last tip: Don't be shy in talking about your "dreams", talents or skills either on the job application or in the job interview.  Employers are looking for people who can not only "do" a job but who are eager to share what they know as well as to learn new skills.


Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.