What can you do to help a teen in your life land a job?
We recently took part in a podcast for the Future Ready MA Campaign and shared ideas for helping influential adults—parents/guardians, coaches or mentors—give teens support and guidance in landing a job. Our conversation centered on helping young people develop the soft skills essential to getting and keeping jobs in today’s job market. Learn more about how to coach young people in presenting themselves in the job search and in demonstrating professional behaviors on the job.
Research tells us soft skills are important to employers for jobs at the entry level and beyond. In fact, there are few differences between behaviors required in higher-skilled jobs and in entry-level jobs. According to a study based on O*NET data—the nation’s primary source for occupational information—dependability, self-control, and cooperation are important for jobs at all points. When young people don’t develop these skills, it can affect their hiring potential for a long time.
Here are ideas for supporting the teens and young adults in your world in developing the soft skills wanted on the job. Many of these ideas come from activities in the Signal Success curriculum.
- Have young people plan an event or trip: This lets teens show initiative, make decisions, and do the research. It gives young people experience in critical thinking and provides a good sense of ownership over a project.
- Give useful feedback: Perhaps a more appropriate tip for mentors rather than parents is to be transparent about what you would say if called to give a reference for a young person. Young people get a sense of where their strengths lie and where they can improve. Getting used to hearing useful critical feedback from a trusted source is hugely valuable for teens.
- Practice more written communication in the form of email: Ask a teen to email you at the end of the week and tell you how the week went. Writing in full sentences is a skill less used now by a generation that relies on texting. Employers are often afraid that young people will interact with clients in ways that are too informal and read as unprofessional.
- Help with resume writing: Resume writing is a highly specific form of communication; young people benefit from guidance from someone who knows how to do it. Also, a mentor can help brainstorm ideas for references and other information that can be part of a teen’s job search assets.
- Practice with reverse-role job interviewing: Have teens interview you using typical interview questions. Model the more difficult questions like ‘what are your weaknesses?’ or even the more innocent seeming ‘tell me about yourself’ question to help teens strategize answers to these subjects.
- Do internet research on jobs and fields of interest: Teens can have vague or misinformed views of occupations. Have them find out the salaries and educational requirements of the jobs that interest them. If they say they want to work with animals, have them list 10 jobs from the internet and tell you what could be a first, next, and future job based on the job requirements.
http://www.commcorp.org/resources/detail.cfm?ID=989 The O*Net study, called The Human Capital Requirements of Occupations, is a companion piece to a teen employment study released by Commonwealth Corporation and Drexel University entitled Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment Prospects (http://www.commcorp.org/resources/detail.cfm?ID=988)
http://futurereadyma.org/ Future Ready is a campaign to promote the college-and-career-readiness of Massachusetts students.
http://www.insidejobs.com/career-exploration-for-teens.pdf Inside Jobs is a useful tool to do career exploration with teens; it provides concise job descriptions with salaries and other job requirements.
https://www.planapple.com/ Planapple is an easy, free way to plan a trip with family and friends.
Use these questions for doing practice interviews: Mock Interview Practice
Written by Anne Berrigan