7 Tips to Help Your Teens Find the Perfect Summer Job

Tips for helping teens put their best foot forward when applying for a summer job

By Nicole Donnelly / Brenna Gutell May 14, 2024
We want to help you, help your teens avoid some of the common mistakes as they venture out looking for summer employment. Summer jobs offer so many benefits to our youth, first off the responsibility of having a summer job can keep them not only busy, but help them stay out of trouble. A big benefit is earning their own money, they might spend a little on something fun, but hopefully they will or save most of it for something like a computer, a car or to help pay for their college. Not only will they gain the opportunity to learn a little about managing their finances, but they'll add some great experience to help build their future resume. 
Being young and less experienced out in the business world means many mistakes can be made, together we can help your teen navigate the challenges and avoid the pitfalls. Keep your eye on the calendar and be on the lookout for job fairs - I've listed one below.

Here are 7 tips to help you help your teens put their best foot forward when applying for a job:

1. Apply for their work permit

A work permit is requires for any student under 18 years old, unless they have graduated High School. Work permits are typically issued by their school. For students who homeschool your local school can help issue them one as well. Your student should contact the school ahead of time to find out their procedures, first they will need a B1-1 signed by their parent or guardian. Visit the California Department of Education website for more information and read the work permit FAQs.

2. Prepare a resume

Many job openings for teens don't require a resume. So why bother preparing one? Even if this is their very first job, they should still present a resume to a prospective employer. Many times, especially with summer jobs, perception plays a major role in hiring. Presenting a professional-looking resume may give them an edge in the hiring process and help their application stand out from the hundreds of other applications being reviewed. They might consider including references if they have some - things like any volunteer or job experience, no matter how small even babysitting, dog walking or just that neighbor they helped with yardwork.

Elena Safonova via Canva

3. Fill out the entire application

Now that they have a resume, it may be tempting to note on an application to "see resume," rather than completing the job history fields - Don't! Most employers still require a completed application either online or a paper version. It should be completed it in its entirety, even if some of the information is a carbon copy of what is on the resume. This shows they can follow instructions, that they're not lazy, and are serious about wanting that job.  Prep Tip:  Depending on the company they are applying it might be a good idea to go online and fill out the application ahead of time and they should always bring a pen or two, just in case there's any paperwork to fill out. 

4. Dress for success

Job hunting is the time to ditch the trendy clothing, sleeveless tees, cut off shorts, flip flops, and low cut shirts. Invest in some nice, conservative outfits that can be worn to visit businesses to apply and for interviews. Making a good first impression is essential to getting an interview, and getting a job.

89Stocker via Canva

5. Put the phone away

At no point during a job search process should a manager or business owner see the applicant on their phone. If it's too tempting to refrain from using it, then consider leaving the phone at home, or at least be sure it is off or on silent and put away out of sight before walking into an establishment. This shows that they are serious about devoting time and attention to something other than text messaging, social media, or games.

6. Practice interview skills

They should be able to intelligently articulate why they are the best person for the job and why they want to work for their company. This includes being able to hold a conversation with the hiring manager while making and maintaining good eye contact, and don't forget to smile. Customer service-focused businesses are looking for bright, personable employees. Keep in mind that they are competing with an entire workforce that includes other teens, college students, graduates, retirees, etc., they need to show why they are the best choice for their business. Tip:  Roleplay ahead of time, maybe a friend or parent can help them practice interview questions - asking and answering.   

7. Follow up

After they speak with someone about a job, following up is essential. If they interviewed in-person following-up with phone call to thank manager for their time or a formal handwritten thank you note is a great way to make an impression. Do not skip this step. For some managers, it can make or break their chances!

Following these steps may not be easy for every teen, but it is essential to helping them land that perfect summer job. Not only will having a summer job give your teen some independence and a sense of responsibility, but it also give them extra cash to spend and save!

Employment opportunities

If you have a local business or organizations and would like me to share your employment opportunities or job fair, please send them via email: