There are laws about the minimum working age. There are also rules about
working hours, wages and the types of jobs young workers can do. In some
places, young workers need working permits.
The rules differ from state to state. It's best to check out what restrictions
apply to you.
If you are under 14, you may need to be a bit of an entrepreneur. That
means you could start your own business! You could deliver newspapers or
babysit for your neighbors. You might do household chores, yard work, dog
walking or car detailing.
"Start by offering these services to people you know, like friends of your
parents, family members or neighbors," says Julia Delany. She works at a
youth employment center.
"If you do the job well, the word will spread. This will help get your
name out there! Networking is an important way to find a job later. The more
people that know who you are and that you are a hard worker, the greater your
chances of finding a job."
As a younger job seeker, you may run into some difficulties.
"Some companies will hire 14- and 15-year-old youth with a work permit,
which is usually obtained through the school counseling office," says Eric
Cline. He is a project associate for the National Youth Employment Coalition
in Washington, D.C.
"Getting these jobs can be difficult, however, because if two youth are
competing for the same job and one youth is 14 while the other is 16, an employer
will often hire the older youth because they will encounter fewer issues with
labor laws and believe older youth to be generally more responsible."
Think about when you are going to find time to work. Having a job is a
big commitment. You don't want to put your grades at risk.
"Some students find that weekend work best suits a school schedule, while
others find that their studies require most of their spare time and, as a
result, they will have to work less," Cline says.
"In any case, your school responsibilities must come before that of your
work. Also, be sure to consider any commitments you have to sports or volunteer
You may need to calculate your free time in the evening and on weekends,
taking into account the time it takes to finish your homework.
"If you feel that you have enough time to do shifts in the evening while
still completing your assignments and studying, part-time employment could
work for you," says Sarah Crowley. She is an employment counselor.
"Remember to calculate the time it takes to get ready and get to work and
come home from work into your hourly calculations."
Schoolwork comes first -- don't let anyone tell you anything different.
You should come to an understanding about your scholastic needs with your
employer early on.
"It is helpful to find a job with flexible hours. This way, the students
can take on more or less hours as the demands of the courses change," says
"Employers who are known to hire students are usually empathetic to the
changing needs of someone in school."
After you know what kind of job you want and how many hours you are prepared
to commit to, you need to start your job search.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 50 percent of working teens
have retail jobs. That includes working in restaurants, grocery markets and
other stores. That statistic is a very good pointer of where you should be
looking for employment.
"Maybe the most effective way of accessing part-time jobs would be to start
with the Hidden Job Market (HJM)," says Crowley. "For those of you unfamiliar
with the HJM, this means jobs that are out there, but not advertised. These
jobs can be found in many ways.
"Friends and family could help you in landing a job, or you could simply
go in person or call a company that you are interested in working for and
ask to speak to the manager," Crowley says.
"More often than not, employers are too busy to advertise, so speaking
with them and letting them know about your related past experiences and skills
will show initiative and could get you the job interview!"
Other places to hunt for job openings are in the local paper, at your school's
counseling office, in community job centers and online.
Don't let your lack of on-the-job experience hold you back. You just need
to be creative and think out your strategy.
"Almost everyone has some sort of work experience: taking care of siblings,
volunteering in the church or community, doing chores, etc. Young people should
sit down and take stock of their skills, experiences and abilities before
getting ready to fill out applications, craft resumes, or interview for jobs,"
"Young people should make up for their lack of experience by accenting
their professionalism," he adds. "Bringing a resume when applying for a job
can put a youth head and shoulders above their peers. Appropriate attire
and business vocabulary is also helpful."
You may need to sell yourself to your potential boss. Be confident and
prepare yourself for questions about your age and experiences.
"Let a potential employer know that although you don't have work experience
yet, you are responsible, reliable and eager to gain that experience," says
Jennifer Rosenthal. She is the community partnerships coordinator at a high
school in Tucson, Arizona.
"Let a potential employer know of some of your good traits. Perhaps you
are intelligent; teaching your brother how to read; or you won a math or science
competition last year," she says.
"Bring a letter of recommendation from a school teacher or a respected
friend of the family. Follow up any informal meeting or interview with a short
personal thank you. Call within a reasonable period of time and check in."
Once you are working, set goals and know what you want to get out of your
job. Learn as much as you can from your co-workers and supervisors. Even
if your first job seems dull, it is an important first step.
"Every job requires you to act in a professional and courteous manner and
to exercise a positive and respectful work ethic," says Greg Kristalovich.
He is the coordinator of a youth job program.
"Your first job can also help you define the types of work you enjoy work
and those that you dislike."