Navigating the job market is a challenge. Teens who are trying to land a summer or after-school-hours job may find the task especially daunting. However, parents can help with the teen job search and ease this transition towards adulthood.

The key is to guide teens in the learning experience instead of finding a job for them. The goal is to get teens involved in the job search process for future success.


1.  Help teens narrow their focus

Working is more fun when a job aligns with personal interests. Help your teen focus their job search. Assist them in identifying their likes and dislikes.

  • Are they a movie buff? They might love working at a local movie theater.
  • Do they enjoy camping? They might enjoy selling outdoor gear at a sporting goods store.
  • Do they like ice cream and greeting people? Try an ice cream shop.

2.  Encourage teens to make a list of their skills

Encourage your teen to list skills and experience gained through school, sports, volunteering, and activities, such as:

  • Leadership (led a group project in school)
  • Works Well on Teams (sports)
  • Computer Skills
  • Good Math Skills
  • Dependable
  • Punctual
  • Fast Learner

3.  Help them create a simple resume

Resumes give prospective employers a quick glance at your qualifications.  See sample templates.

  • Keep information short and simple
  • Focus on how you can help the company
  • Place contact information at top: Name, phone, email, address
  • List your skills and qualifications
  • List all relevant experience with transferable skills, even from volunteering
    • Example: Organized a fundraising event for our youth program at church
  • Include extra-curricular activities
  • Add name of high school, GPA, relevant classes, date of graduation

4.  Have teens make a list of references

Recommended references include neighbors, coaches, church leaders, and teachers. Choose people who can attest to your teen’s hard work and creativity.

5.  Show them how to fill out an application


Practice completing applications to get teens comfortable with the process

  • Gather all addresses and contact information (school, former employers, references’ phone numbers, and email addresses, etc.)
  • Have a professional email address
  • Have social security number, work permits, and proof of age ready
  • Use blue- or black-ink pens only
  • Answer all questions completely and honestly
  • Review for any mistakes


Many teens feel pride finding a job. So gently guide them, while they do the heavy lifting.

1.  Point out teen job search resources

On-line Job Resources
Employers are increasingly using online job portals to advertise open positions.

  • If there is a particular employer in mind, click the “Careers” or “Employment” tab located on the company’s website.
  • and Monster have pages specifically for teen jobs.


Off-line Job Resources
Some traditional jobs for teens are not posted online. Find jobs through:

  • Classified ads in local newspapers
  • Church bulletin boards
  • Word of mouth
  • Youth centers
  • Signs in windows

2.  Give your teen contact info of people you know

Applicants are 10 times more likely to get an interview if they know someone working for the company they applied at. But remember, do not reach out to contacts yourself; rather, give your teen access to their information. It is important that they build their own relationships.

  • Obtain contact information of people who can recommend your teen
  • Teens can ask neighbors if they need any help around their property
  • Your teen may have a friend or peer employed who can give a recommendation

3.  Suggest making a list of local businesses

Encourage your teen to jot down local businesses that interest them. Do not worry if they are hiring or not. Sometimes asking the right business at the right time can lead to a job.


  • Shopping Mall Retailers
  • Golf Courses
  • Grocery Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Parks Departments
  • Summer Camps
  • Skate Shop

4.  Help them think outside the box

If traditional jobs do not suit your teen, explore self-employed jobs.

  • Babysitting
  • Mowing lawns
  • Painting
  • Dog walking

5.  Give teens tips for the job hunt

  • Your teen should drop off resumes to businesses on their list with openings (dress appropriately)
  • Tell your teen to check online job portals daily
  • Encourage your teen to visit a business, ask to speak to a manager, and inquire about job opportunities (dress appropriately)
  • If your teen does not hear from an employer about a week after applying, recommend they send a brief follow-up email or phone call
    1. Restate interest in the job
    2. Short overview of qualifications/abilities
    3. Thank the employer for their interest

6.  Encourage self-sufficiency

Do not accompany your teen when they obtain or hand-in applications. It is important employers view them as independent and self-motivated.


1.  Preparing for the interview

Your teen should treat the interview like a test. Use the following tips as a study guide:

  • Research the company, its products, and its customers
  • What are the qualifications and how do I meet them?
  • Go through common interview questions and rehearse responses
    • Why do you want to work here?
    • Tell me about yourself.
    • What do you know about our company?
    • Why should I hire you?
  • Prepare 3-5 questions for the interviewer
    • Describe a typical day in this role.
    • What is the most important qualification for this position?
    • What are the busiest times of the day?
  • Role play for practice

2.  During the interview

  • Maintain proper posture and eye contact
  • Be positive in your body language and words
  • Shake hands when meeting the interviewer
  • Dress appropriately
  • Bring a resume and references
  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early
  • Go alone (no parents or friends)
  • Leave phone in the car
  • Express interest in the company and particular position
  • Stress a willingness to work and learn
  • Express problem solving and critical thinking skills through past experiences
  • Be honest!

3.  Following up

Send a thank you email or letter within 24 hours of the interview.

  • Expressly thank them for taking the time to interview
  • Reemphasize major points made in the interview
  • Restate qualifications and interest in the job
  • Give an invitation to contact should they need more information
  • End with another “thank you” and a grateful tone

If your teen does not here back within 2-3 weeks, they may call the employer to restate their interest and politely ask if they have made a decision.


Your teen may face rejection or no response at all to their applications. Remind them that rejection happens to every job hunter. The key is to not let it deflate you. Encourage your teen gently. Learning to deal with rejection is a lesson we all go through.

Tell your teen to move forward and plan their next step.

  • Keep applying
  • Start a business (painting, mowing lawn, etc.)
  • Volunteer


Congratulations! You have successfully guided your teen through a teen job search. You can rest easy knowing that with application and work experience your teen is on a learning path for future career success.

Celebrate your teen’s success and reemphasize your pride in them. This is an accomplishment signaling their path to adulthood.


  • Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development provides a school and work integrated Youth Apprenticeship Program. This gives students paid work experience and job skills while they complete their education.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a website with student resources, games, and quizzes to aid students exploring information about jobs and careers.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor offers a program called Job Corps. It is free for students under 16 years old from low income households.


Our Rawhide guys follow a professional and real-world approach to obtaining a job. They create resumes, fill out applications, and interview for open positions in various Rawhide departments such as: vehicle program, food service, facilities, administration, or in the stables. These opportunities are available thanks to our generous donors. Please join our donor community to help at-risk youth better their lives and go through their own teen job search.