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Preparation helps youth land first job
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Youth looking for a first job can improve their chances of being hired by dressing the part and carrying a well-written resume to all interviews.
When the lure of having spending money outweighs the appeal of a leisure time, high school youth often turn to part-time employment. Landing that first job can be hard, but with a little preparation, youth can improve their chances of being hired.
Larry Alexander, 4-H specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said young people should be ready to sell themselves when given the opportunity.
"When an employer asks why they should hire you for a job, this is your opportunity to shine," Alexander said. "Tell them about your strengths and why you would make a good employee in their company."
When searching for a job, Alexander said to first determine age requirements. Child labor laws determine at what age youth can perform certain jobs, and communities often vary in the ages at which they typically hire teenagers.
"A lot of young people of high school age who have not reached 18 have trouble finding employment," Alexander said. "When you get information about a job, be sure to ask how old you have to be to apply for the job."
The next step is filling out the job application, a form many youth find difficult. Alexander suggested students get copies of job applications from school guidance counselors or places of business and practice filling these out. Most ask similar questions, and youth can become familiar with these forms before filling out an actual job application.
Alexander recommended young job applicants leave a resume with prospective employers along with the completed application. Even youth who have never held a job before can list on a resume their experiences and qualifications, such as school extracurricular activities or 4-H projects completed. Have someone proofread the resume and job application for grammar and spelling errors.
"Leaving a resume shows that you were prepared with the right information," Alexander said. "The person who goes prepared has a better chance of getting the job."
After turning in this information, follow-up to see that the employer received the application and resume. When it comes time for the interview, research the business to learn what it does and what positions are available. Dress professionally, sit when invited but don't slouch, speak clearly and properly, and make eye contact with the interviewer. Don't ask about pay or request weekends and holidays off until given the opportunity to discuss this by the interviewer.
"A lot of guys go in with sagging pants. That's a real no-no, inviting employers to close the door in your face," Alexander said. "The pay is very important, but unless the person doing the interview alludes to the pay or asks you what you think you should be paid, don't initiate the question right away."
He also said that part-time jobs often require weekend, evening and holiday work, and job applicants should be willing to work some of those hours.
"It's fair to ask what the work hours are going to be, but don't go into the interview with a demand of what hours you're willing to work," Alexander said.
But if jobs are not available or are not the kind wanted, consider creating one.
"You don't necessarily have to get a job from someone. You can make your own job by providing a service to someone or a group of people," Alexander said. "For example, some high schoolers are finding consulting opportunities teaching the older generation how to use computers."
After getting a job, be a good employee, showing up at work on time, treating customers politely and doing the job well.