BY DR. VALERIE ALLEN
For many teens, the joy of summer is exceeded only by the thrill of cash. If you are thinking your teen should consider getting a job, the time to start is now. Adolescents may hesitate to approach the world of work for these reasons that we’ve stumbled: 1) We’ve all had that feeling of being overwhelmed when we first begin job hunting. 2) We’ve all experienced uncertainty when we complete a job application. 3) We’ve all had that fear of rejection when we go for an interview. 4) We’ve all had that frightening first day on the job. Somehow we made it through and so can your youngster — with a little help from you.
Support and encourage your teen to improve her chances of getting a job and hearing those two magical words — “your hired.” Help her make that trip out into the big, hard, cold world a little less threatening by using these tips.
1. Dress for the occasion. Look as if you really want this job. How to dress? Look at the other employees; consider the type of work you will be doing. Sure shots: take a shower, get a haircut, eliminate the jewelry, downplay any makeup and be conservative (forget style!). Make sure all body parts are fully covered — no midriff reveals or saggy pants. Remember, the interviewer will probably be someone like your parents!
2. Be prepared. Show you are organized, detailed and task oriented. What to bring? A pen, a pencil, a note pad, your Social Security Card, driver’s license and a list of classes or certificates that are job related. Other things that might give you an edge: proof of previous employment, letters from teachers, coaches or your pastor, awards from extra-curricular activities or other certificates of achievement. A list of volunteer work where you have been involved with community service may also prove helpful.
3. Have a positive attitude. No one owes you this job; prove you want it. Convey enthusiasm and a good attitude. How? Shake hands, introduce yourself, smile, make eye contact, speak clearly, listen carefully, show an interest in the company and most important ask questions. Go online and check out the company before the interview. Bonus points if you address the interviewer by name; be sure to use Mr. or Ms.
4. Show self-confidence. Consider your achievements. What have you done well? What have you accomplished? What are you proud of? What do others say are your strong points? How can these accomplishments relate to on-the-job tasks? Let the interviewer know you are eager and willing to learn new job skills.
5. The 3 R’s: Responsibility, Respect, Reality Check. Demonstrate responsibility by making an appointment for the interview, call ahead to confirm the time, bring important documents with you, be on time and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Show respect, be courteous, pay attention, take notes, respond verbally and don’t interrupt. Do not use slang words or profanity. Reality Check: you will probably be completing with many others for an entry level job at minimum wage, requiring unskilled labor.
You have to work hard and learn at lot to get that first paycheck. When you finally land a job, give it your best. Prove to yourself and others that you are worth it.
Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice.