The unemployment rate is a major topic of discussion. You probably know a neighbor, friend, or family member who is looking for work. This fact makes it even harder for those new to the workforce to find a job. In fact, the US Labor Bureau estimates teen unemployment at around 17%. This percentage does not account for kids between the ages of 16-24 who are underemployed.
Just telling your teenager to go fill out applications is just not enough anymore. If your child falls into this category, there are things you can do to help. Equip your teenager to compete for the available opportunities while avoiding common mistakes. This is not enabling, nor does it classify you as a helicopter mom; the job market is tough enough without trying to walk into it blind. Help clear a pathway for your child with the following tips.
1. Start online. Before your child even applies for a job, they need to clean up their social networking act. Aside from removing anything that a potential employer may find offensive, inappropriate, or otherwise hurt their chances, your child needs to connect the dots and fill in the blanks. This means maintaining a consistent presence from one site to the next. If their LinkedIn profile does not remotely resemble who they are on Facebook or Twitter, this is a problem. If your teen does not have a LinkedIn page, have them build one. Keep all information honest and verifiable. Fill in searchable keywords and ask for recommendations in order to create a solid and professional online image.
2. Dress the part. Details matter whether your child is simply picking up an application, or going to an interview. This does not mean men need to wear a suit, unless that is what they would wear if hired, but it does mean presenting themselves in the best possible light. Clothing and shoes have to be clean and neat, and the style of dress should mimic what someone in a leadership role in the company would wear.
3. Look good on paper. With a little extra work, your teen’s documents can rise to the top of the employer’s stack. Regardless of the position they are applying for, their documents need to make the best possible impression. Their one-page resume and cover letter should be concise and targeted, and printed on quality paper.
4. Take the extra step. Chances are your teen knows how to navigate technology; so have them use their powers for good and design an online resume that is easy to access. The best way to do this is to purchase a domain name using their first and last name. This can be the landing place for an online resume and be the basis of a personalized email address as well as host a short introductory video.
5. Network, network, network. Who you know is even more important in a down economy. Encourage your child to make it known that they are looking for work. Start talking to friends and family members, friends of friends, teachers, and former coaches. You do not know who they know until you ask.
6. Integrity matters. Six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is approximately six steps away from any other person in the world, by introduction. If your child does find employment through networking, be sure you remind them of this theory while emphasize how important it is to do their best. Reputation can be hard to rebuild, especially in light of the six degrees theory.
More by Sylvie Branch:
Dealing with Disappointment: Do’s and Don’ts to Help Your Teen
Talking back, a good trait for teens?
Stop! Teens need more time behind wheel, study says