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By Melinda Sacks
Working with your child to identify his strengths and interests is an important first step in deciding where to apply. For teens who are athletic or enjoy the outdoors, recreation or community centers are a good place to start. If your teen is great with young kids, consider the YMCA or other community summer camp programs, which will often take volunteers the first summer and then hire them the next summer.
Of course you'll want to watch the local newspaper and area websites for job listings, but remember that being proactive rather than waiting for a job to be advertised is likely to have better results. School counselors and teachers are another great resource and will often have suggestions of where to look and who hires younger teens.
When our son was looking for a job we got in the habit of asking about age limits and job availability everywhere we went. Alex got to the point where he asked the grocery clerk and the pizza delivery guy how old you had to be to work at their companies. Just learning how to ask that question was good practice in communication skills.
It seems obvious to adults, but what to wear when you go to apply for a job, and what to say in the first encounter, does not come naturally to many kids. Talk about what the appropriate attire might be for different jobs, and if you or your child are unsure, take a field trip and look at what employees are wearing.
Jeans and a clean T-shirt may be fine at the day care center, but a restaurant or office will expect nicer pants and a collared shirt. A belt and tucked-in shirt may not be the style at school, but for the young job seeker, too-short skirts or giant baggy pants with boxers showing and baseball caps should stay home.
The job interview can be the most challenging — and scary — part of the job search. A little role playing can do a lot to help youngsters anticipate the questions they might be asked, and formulate answers ahead of time. For some kids writing down the answers and reviewing them is helpful.
Some common queries include "Why do you want this job?" and "What makes you the best candidate?" Many employers say the most important quality they look for is enthusiasm, which can be hard to display if you are extremely anxious. Remind your child to at least say, "I really want this job!"
Being too quiet, gazing at your shoes, muttering, or saying, "My dad told me to apply for this job," are all roads to failure.
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