Occupational Research Section
GETTING EXPERIENCE: JOB TIPS FOR TEENS
KNOW YOUR TALENTS
The first step in finding a job is identifying your interests, skills and
abilities. Although finding a job that meets your financial needs is
important, emphasis should also be placed on enjoying the work and having
the ability and skills to perform the tasks expected of you.
* Explore careers. The Michigan Occupational Information System's (MOIS)
Structured Search helps you identify your interests and the
Occupational Files help you see how those interests relate to careers
with favorable employment outlooks.
* TESTS HELP! Vocational evaluation and aptitude tests are designed to
measure your possession of, or potential to acquire, job skills and
See your school counselor or visit your nearest Michigan Works! office
for testing and MOIS Structured Search.
* School work counts! Many young workers cannot compete for available
jobs because they lack simple reading and math skills and therefore
cannot be taught the most routine jobs. It may not be your fault if
you did not learn basic skills, but it will be your fault if you don't
make the effort now to obtain these skills. Take remedial classes -
get your GED - it will pay off later.
Choose your classes carefully. Even if you plan to go to a college or
university, if you don't take the proper courses, you may limit the types
of postsecondary programs you can enter and, therefore, narrow your
employment choices in the future. It is a good idea to call the colleges to
find out high school prerequisites for your major course of study.
A solid education and marketable skills are the most important factors
for getting a job that pays well. Your opportunities for future
employment must be planned for now.
* Extracurricular activities can give you job-related experiences.
Typing, filing, answering the phone in the attendance office, or being
club treasurer with light bookkeeping duties, will teach you marketable
* Volunteer work experience is a great way to prepare for future
employment. In addition to helping people who need help, you can:
- Get on-the-job training for future employment
or college applications
- Sample possible career areas
- Get references
- Get hired. Many volunteers get hired by the
agencies they served for free
Consider seeking a different type of job each summer to learn details
about different jobs or occupations before you decide on a career goal.
* Get help: Your school counselor, and Michigan Works! staff can help
you explore your options and identify your potential.
* School counselors and teachers can help you make wise career planning
decisions, and plan and conduct a job search.
* Michigan Works! interviewers and counselors are trained to assist young
workers who have special employment problems such as limited job skills
and brief work histories. They can also refer youth directly to employers,
training programs such as Job corps and the Michigan Youth Corp, and
other government sponsored youth employment and job training programs.
* Talk with people who do the kind of work you want to do. Call
employers in the industry that interests you. Ask to schedule an
interview and/or tour of their facilities. This is a good way to get
inside information about job duties, working conditions, training
requirements and job entry from someone who has been through it before.
Also, ask what they do not like about the job and try to observe them
while they work.
* Don't forget to discuss your job search and career plans with your
family. Their financial and other support will be needed.
GET YOUR JOB SEARCH TOOLS TOGETHER
Social Security Numbers are required for all employees. If you do not
have one, check your local telephone directory for the Social Security
office nearest you.
Work Permits may be required for 14-17 year old workers for specific jobs.
(Those who are exempt from the Youth Employment Standards Act must
provide verification for the employer.) Some exceptions include:
* 17-year-olds who have passed the GED examination
* High school graduates
* Youth who are married or are no longer the legal responsibility of
their parents or legal guardians. (A court order statement must be
obtained to verify your independence.)
Forms to apply for work permits may be obtained from most local school
district administrative offices.
Health Permits (food handler's permits) may be required for workers who
will handle foods in an establishment. Apply at your county health
clinic. You may be given a tuberculin (TB) test or chest x-ray. Parental
consent is required.
References may be requested by the employer (at least three, but no
relatives). They should be people who know your abilities such as
teachers, former employers, and other adults. Be sure you ask permission
to use their names. Write out the correct spelling of their name,
address, and phone number.
Applications, resumes*, and cover letters are written communications that
represent you to the employer. Be certain they are complete, accurate,
and legible. They should sell you to the employer and tell why you are
the best qualified person for the job.
The school or public library career resource centers as well as Internet web sites
have information on "how to" write resumes and cover letters, answer difficult questions in interviews, and other information about getting the skills necessary to convince employers to hire you.
* See examples at end of this document
KNOW THE LAW
The hours of work and the types of job suitable for teenagers (14 to 17-
year-olds) are governed by the Youth Employment Standards Act. Employers
that hire nationally, such as retailers and fast food stores, must abide
by the stricter federal laws. State laws are usually more lenient.
Some of the Michigan laws include:
- Teenagers may not work during school hours, except in co-op, work-
study, or internship programs.
- Combined hours of school and work cannot exceed 48 hours.
- The teenager may not work more than 6 days a week.
- 14 and 15-year-olds may not work after 9:00 p.m. or before 7:00
- Legally, you are not required to work on days of your religious
observance. (However, the employer's needs will determine who
will get the job.)
You should also be aware that some job application and interview
questions, as well as some employment practices, are illegal. Your school
counselor or Michigan Works! staff can advise you or refer you the
appropriate agency, if applicable.
FIND THE JOB
- Finding a job is a job. Plan your job hunt, then work your plan until
- When possible, try to find work that gives you experience related to
your career goals.
- Let everyone know you want a job; friends, family, neighbors, past
employers, teachers, counselors, and others. This is known as
"networking" and is the method of filling most jobs. Employers may
hire referrals from their current employees before they advertise job
openings. Give each person who is assisting you a copy of your resume,
so that they know your job target and can speak knowledgeably about your
abilities to potential employers.
SOURCES OF JOB LEADS
- Internet on-line employment services Web sites
- School Placement offices
- Work-study, co-op and internship programs
- Temporary agencies
- Summer and part-time jobs
- Community organizations and clubs
- "Help Wanted" signs in store windows or displayed on bulletin boards in
grocery and drug stores
- Newspaper articles and want ads
Be realistic about the salary, days and hours, and position you expect.
Many "first" jobs are in the fast foods or other retail sales industries
which usually pay minimum wage or slightly above. Also, they frequently
require evening and weekend work. You may receive periodic raises or
better working hours as you prove your ability to perform the job well.
Dependable transportation is a must! Some good jobs may not be near your
own neighborhood. Allow enough time to be punctual by commuter bus or
make other reliable arrangements in advance.
Don't worry if you have never had a job for wages. Everyone had to find
that first job.
Many employers are willing to hire young workers who lack job-related
experience and skills, but you must have a positive attitude. You must be
able to convince employers that you are sincerely interested in the job
and that you can learn the job duties quickly and accurately.
WHEN YOU GET AN INTERVIEW
You only have one chance to make that first impression!
- Dress neatly and cleanly in a style appropriate for the job you are
- Bring your resume or a fact sheet listing your education, experience,
social security number, and references
- Go alone!
- Be on time or a little early
- Be courteous and polite to everyone you meet
- Be prepared to discuss your qualifications in terms of the employer's
needs, not your own
- Review and study possible interview questions and do mock interviews
Some employers administer tests as a means to identify qualified
applicants. Practice your reading and comprehension, math, typing, and
other skills beforehand. Learn to relax in order to do your best at test
EVALUATE YOUR INTERVIEWS
- Keep a record of all companies and the dates you applied for work, sent
a resume, interviewed, and followed-up after your interview.
- You may not get the job where you first apply. Learn to take rejection
without being discouraged. Review and analyze the results after each
interview so you can do better on your next try. Keep trying until you
get a job that suits you.
- Have a “Thank You” letter prepared in advance, so that you can mail it soon
after the interview
G O O D L U C K !
Consult your local business directory (yellow pages) for the address and
telephone number of the nearest Michigan Works! office.”
A resume (pronounced "Re-zoo-may") is one(1) type written page which
summarizes your education, work history and other qualifications. Here
are some examples:
4444 ABC Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 47000
Employment Goal: A part-time sales position to help develop my
skills needed in business administration.
Education: Central High School, Ann Arbor
Expected graduation, June, 2001.
Taking classes in business math, computer science
Experience: Clerical position at General Hospital during the
summer of 1997-98 school year.
Experience includes typing letters using MS Word
(version 6.0), handling incoming and out-going mail,
filing, and some light duties in accounting
Activities: Math Club
9237 Ebony Street, Apt. 213
Detroit, Michigan 49221
Employment Goal: A part-time job helping me develop skills for my
future career goal in medicine.
Education: Washington High School, Detroit
Will graduate in June, 2001.
Taking several courses in science and math.
Extracurricular National Honors Society (Secretary, 1999)
Activities: Student-Teacher Advisory Council
Medical Club, 1998-99
Counselor's Aide, 1998-99
Experience: "Candy Striper" Volunteer at Marquette General
Hospital. Gained valuable experience working
the summers of 1998-99.
Helped doctors, nurses, and patients.
Baby-sitter - Have been responsible for as many as
five children at once.
Honors: National Honors Society, 1998-99
(Neatly typed on a blank 3" X 5" card)
When to use:
- When networking, give to friends, relatives, and acquaintances who may
refer you to prospective employers.
- Attach it to the employer's application.
- Take to career fairs.
- Job Target
- Work experience
- Hobbies and related experience
- Positive personal attributes of interest to prospective employers
Demonstrates initiative, interest, and motivation to the employer.
JOHN B. PAGE * Age - 18
JOB DESIRED: Landscape work
SKILLS: 5 years experience cutting parents' lawn each week. Cut lawns
and did other landscaping for 3 neighbors for the past 3 years. Used 24"
gas mower, 36" riding mower, electric hedge trimmer, and gas edger.
Seeking full time summer work starting June 5. Can work 7 days a week,
* Age information given because of heavy equipment operation laws.
ANN F. JOHNSON
JOB WANTED: Record/Stereo sales;
SKILLS: Have a strong interest in music. Studied guitar 7 years. Have
large tape/record collection. Enjoy reading books and magazines about rock
and pop music and musicians. Sell refreshments at high school sports
events. Good with people and exact when handling money. People I have
worked for say the I "have an excellent attitude."
Honest - Dependable - Courteous
JOB DESIRED: Park/Recreation Assistant
SKILLS: Volunteer recreation worker for 2 years - helped supervise Cub
Scouts (ages 7-11) at a Scout summer camp.
Play on high school varsity soccer and basketball teams.
Top sales person in 1996 Scout fund raiser - sold 250 boxes of
candy. Delivered candy, collected money, and kept records.
Have a driver's license and use of an insured car.