Teens, students must go extra mile to get job

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

First, thanks to the slumping economy, fewer positions are available. Second, the jobs that have been posted are drawing applications not only from students on break, but also from laid-off adults, some with lengthy resumes.

Teens4Hire.org, which bills itself as the "No. 1 online career and recruitment site for U.S. teens seeking work," says employers have an unusually deep talent pool at their disposal this summer. "The younger and the inexperienced are definitely going to be floundering," Renee Ward, who started the website seven years ago, told The Wall Street Journal.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds hit 21.5 percent in April, almost 2 1/2 times the overall rate and up more than 6 percentage points from a year earlier.

Gerald Addy, a student at Columbus State Community College, knows what he's up against. "I've been to a couple of places where they've picked people who have more experience than me," he said. "I'm young and in college and haven't worked that much."

Desiree Okafor, another student at Columbus State, is in the same boat. "I don't have any experience," she said. "That's why I'm at school."

Addy said he realizes he can't be choosy. "I'm not setting certain standards about how much I need to get paid," he said. "I'm taking whatever is available for me. I'm not going to give up, because you have to keep trying."

That's the right approach, Teens4Hire says. Tenacity, practicality and resourcefulness, it says, are the keys to finding jobs this summer. "Employers want to hire people with a positive attitude, and attitude is something a teen can control."

The website's blog suggests that teens ask everyone they know - teachers, counselors, parents, friends - about places that might have openings. Young applicants should also look for "Now Hiring" signs wherever they go. "A job will not fall in your lap. Most employers don't feel the need to advertise to teens. Employers are expecting that you will seek them out," the blog says.

Other tips from Teens4Hire:

  • Research a would-be employer and be prepared to interview on the spot. Business owners are impressed by applicants who have done their homework.
  • Learn how to complete an application. Misspelled words and sloppy handwriting are big turnoffs.
  • Write thank-you notes and follow up if you don't hear anything within a week. Employers need to know you're serious.