Job searching while in high school can be an intimidating and frustrating experience. You’re ready to build independence and earn some money by getting your first job. Unfortunately, finding that first job can be tricky, especially with your studies’ scheduling constraints.
Many discouraged early job seekers have recited the idea that you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. However, this is not fully true. Lack of experience is a barrier for high school job seekers, but sometimes all you need is some determination and enthusiasm.
Consider who you know that manages or owns a business that may need help. Do you have a family friend that owns a restaurant? Perhaps you have a family member that could use some extra filing help at their office? Or maybe you have a friend that already found a job at a local store or food service establishment that could refer you for an open position. If you have friends that work at the mall, ask around before winter or summer break. Many retail stores hire seasonally during those times, and your availability will be less of an issue if school is out for break.
Consider whether you have any non-traditional experience that you can highlight in place of employment experience. Volunteer work and extra-curricular activities can build leadership skills, customer service experience, and show that you are a team player.
If you had to fundraise for a club, sports team, or volunteer organization, you have sales and customer service experience. Don’t be afraid to put student government, volunteer work, or extracurriculars on your resume if that’s the experience that you have right now. Being active in your school and community while staying on top of your assignments shows time management and work ethic, two things that employers love to see!
High school job seekers need to come across as mature and professional when communicating with potential employers. Employers want to see that you are taking your job search seriously and are truly ready to enter the workforce.
Ensure that all communication with potential employers is polished and professional. Dedicate time to crafting your resume and have a teacher or parent look at it before sending it out. Always proofread your cover letters, application responses, and emails. Keep a professional tone and avoid using slang.
Ensure that you are using a professional email address. Making a new email account is easy, and having a dedicated account for job searching can help keep you organized and make sure that you don’t miss any important emails related to your job search. Do not use that email account that you made when you were ten with a silly name. Make an account that is just your first and last name or an appropriate variation of it, such as your first initial and last name.
It can take a while to find your first job, and it is disappointing to send out dozens of applications and not hear back. Even experienced job seekers get discouraged and experience job search burnout and fatigue. Cast a wide net in your job search. Look at large chain stores, local small businesses, fast food, cafes, restaurants, pet care businesses, and anywhere else that offers part-time jobs in your area.
To stay motivated and avoid burnout, try to set a daily or weekly application goal. New job postings are being shared every day, so you’ll want to keep on time with them, but you don’t want to go overboard and get burned out. Set a realistic goal with your schedule and block out time or job searching to interfere with your schoolwork.
Once you’ve sent out applications, it’s time to start thinking about job interviews. Sometimes you’ll only get a day or two notice for a job interview, so it’s best to start preparing early. Make sure that you have professional attire to wear to an interview. You can find professional clothing at Goodwill or discount stores like Ross if you need to get an interview outfit but don’t want to break the bank.
You should also research common interview questions. Most companies utilize the same general questions, so you can start practicing before you even have an interview scheduled. Once you know what company you are interviewing at, you can research them too.
If you’ve submitted an application and haven’t heard back, follow up with them. Often employers receive a huge response to online job postings, so following up will help you stand out. You can call, email, or stop by (depending on the type of business and whether they asked for no calls/walk-ins).
Following up after an interview is important too! If you have the email address of the person you interviewed with, send them a thank you note after your interview. Restate your interest in the job, thank them for their time, and share something that you enjoyed learning about the company/role or that made you excited about the possibility of working there. Try to ask about their hiring timeline at the end of your interview to know when you should hear back. If they don’t reach out by the date they gave you, send a follow up to check the status of the job opening and your candidacy.
Of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a little feature on JobGet! JobGet connects you to employers (including many foodservice, retail, and hospitality companies!) with quick applications, no resume, and the ability to chat directly with employers. If you’re looking for a job as soon as possible, JobGet will help you get hired quickly.
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