Snow may still be a recent memory and the chilly night air a reality, but now is the time to help your teens think about summer employment. The good news is that 2015 may be a banner year for summer hires.

“Employers are predicting an increase in total hires as compared to last summer,” said Kim Costa, job coach at SnagAJob. Positions in retail, hospitality and foodservice are already being filled, with the majority of jobs looking to be secured by the end of May. These industries cover more than 40% of all summer youth employment, making this a key time for high school and college students to start their search.

Even with this positive news for teen job opportunities, this generation has gotten a bad reputation in the past as their summer employment figures have steadily declined. According to Market Watch, teen summer employment numbers have seen a downward trend. The numbers cannot be refuted; however, I contend that it is not due to teenage laziness or an unwillingness to work, which is often implied. Rather, I believe that the decline in teen employment is directly due to the recent recession, forcing many retired or semi-retired Baby Boomers back into the summer workforce. There may not be competition for jobs like lifeguard or camp counselor, but you may be interested in a seasoned worker as compared to a “newbie,” if you are running a retail store. Why not offer the same salary to a Baby Boomer with experience than a teenager without any credentials? Who are you more likely to choose?  The other issue is that teens or college students often have to leave early to get back to school and Boomers do not.

According to Family Education Network, a Pearson Education, Inc. company, the most popular summer jobs for teens are; landscaping and lawn care, camp counselor, lifeguard, odd jobs (babysitting, car washing, easy house painting, pet care, house sitting), concert/event venues/movie theater staff (e.g. ticket sales, reception, concessions stand, parking), food service personnel (e.g. cashier, host, server, bus person, dish washer), tutor, and sports instructor (such as using sports skills to teach other kids). So, what can you do to best prepare your teen for summer employment prospects?

Conducting the Job Search

There are numerous websites to help in the search for a summer job, but you must first decide on the location. Do they want to stay near home or go away? There are even opportunities overseas. Additionally, let them start searching for jobs that are compatible with their interests and skills. And, if the traditional retail or foodservice job is unavailable, why not try these on for size:

  • Volunteer Work If your teen can’t find a job or doesn’t need one economically, community service is a great learning experience. Your teen will learn the same responsibility and accountability that they will with a paying job and volunteering can be a life-changing experience. Your teen will appreciate how volunteerism expands their horizons and opens up the reality of “how lucky they are.”
  • Internships There are paid and unpaid internships available. An internship is a great way for a teen to get a glimpse of a career that may be or may not be right for them.  I was mentoring a youth who was hell-bent on a CSI-type career, until she landed an internship that included working at a city morgue.  Thank goodness she got a “taste” of that before she spent four years in college preparing for that career. Networking with family and friends, as well as online is a good way to land these coveted positions.

 Performing the Market Research

Have your teen really research the job opportunity. For instance, let’s say that they want to work as a sales clerk or barista for the summer. Encourage your teen to visit the store and observe the current sales staff, while writing down their impressions. Their list of observations can include:

  • Did the employee dress appropriately?
  • If the store was busy, did the employee acknowledge the customer and say they would be right with them?
  • Did the employee greet the customer with a smile?
  • Did the employee establish eye contact?
  • Was the employee fast and efficient?
  • Did the employee ring-up the order or get the item requested quickly and efficiently?
  • Did the employee say to the customer, “Thank you for coming into…?”

Creating the Resume

Help your teen to prepare a short resume that briefly describes themselves and their relevant experience.  They should include any volunteer work, odd jobs (like babysitting)… anything that will demonstrate that they will be a serious and enthusiastic worker. According to a SnagAJob survey, “The most important characteristic employers look for in a summer employee is a positive attitude (40%), followed by schedule flexibility (23%), commitment to work the whole summer (19%) and previous experience (18%).” By the way, the company may go on line to check out your child’s social media sites, so this is a perfect time for, “The Talk.”

Rehearsing the Interview

You need to role-play the interview process with your teen. So, what should they think about in preparing for the interview?

  • Research the company – Your teen should try to find out as much about the company before the interview.  The best place to look is on their website.
  • Learn the dress code – Review this with your child to make sure that they dress appropriately.
  • Find out how to get there – It sounds obvious, but if they show up late for an interview, they can pretty much guarantee they will NOT land the job.
  • Rehearse – Make sure that you teach your teen basics like; starting off with the introduction, a proper handshake and eye contact.  They need to speak clearly and with genuine enthusiasm.  They also need to bring their “Market Research” with them as a talking point; this will really impress the interviewer.
  • Ask questions – Help your teen to prepare some questions that are intelligent and relate to the company’s goals for their summer employees. Teens should not ask about salary, hours or days off.  That will be a turn-off for the employer.  The goal is to be as flexible and enthusiastic as possible.

Happy summer!