My 14-year old son is applying for his first job! As I watch him go through this process I realize there are lessons that we all can take from him. Even though he isn't looking for a high salary or a career, he still wants to be offered a position, like all job candidates. Here are three examples from his experience that I believe all job seekers should follow.
1) Use Your Network!
My son has no work experience. He only recently turned 14 and, up to this point, has been too young to be hired for a job. He is interested in earning some spending money and would like someone to hire him. The problem is that he has no job experience to prove that he is a reliable, hard worker. He also doesn't have any previous employers to provide him a positive reference. It is probably safe to assume that the word of his parents won't get him very far.
However, even at 14 he has the ability to network. In his case, he is on the school ski team. The coach works outside of the school in an agri-entertainment business. She knows he has a good work ethic from seeing him at practice every day. The coach is familiar with his ability to show up on time, follow directions, and focus. These are all important for the working world as well as for sports. So, applying to a job at her place of business makes sense. She can put in a good word for him which will go a long way since he doesn't have previous work experience to rely on.
Think about your network. Who do you know in your field? Who can you reach out to make connections? It may be someone unexpected like a coach or fellow parent that you know through sports or scouts. Regardless of who it is, it is possible you have someone already in your network that can make the right introduction.
2) Don't Overlook the Little Things
My son told me he has to create a new email account. When I asked why, he explained that his Family and Consumer Science teacher told him that when he applies for a job, he should make sure his email address isn't something silly. I had to chuckle because I give this advice all the time. People who are still using their email address from high school or college may find that it doesn't provide the professional appearance needed for a job search.
In my son's case, his email is something about being destructive which is intended to be intimidating when playing Xbox games with his friends, but is not great for a job search. So, with my permission, he created a new email address that just includes his first and last name.
No matter how old you are, it can be the simple things that make or break your first impression. So, look at the details. Creating a new email address only takes a few minutes, but it might make a big difference.
My son is too young to have a social media presence, but that is another thing I recommend job seekers take a close look at. It is possible that the hiring manager will look you up on social media before deciding if they want to interview you. What will their impression be? Consider adjusting your social media so it doesn't give a poor reflection of you.
3) Fill out the ENTIRE Application
It can feel redundant to fill out a detailed job application after you have just spent time creating a resume and cover letter that provide the exact same information. Can you just skip a few questions since the information is already covered on the documents you will be attaching? The answer is no. You have to fill the job application out completely.
In my son's case, I was really surprised by the quantity and detail of the questions the agri-entertainment job application required. After all, it is a part time job for a high school kid. But, it isn't for me to judge. I imagine they have hired kids in the past that haven't worked out so they are trying to avoid that.
As a job seeker, you have to show you can follow directions. Don't assume they don't need the information they are requesting. Filling out a job application in its entirety provides them the information they need to make a decision about whether or not to interview you. It is also a simple way to demonstrate your ability to follow directions.
No matter your age, the above are three important details to keep in mind when seeking a job. While the examples provided here by my 14 year old's experience are helpful, an adult job seeker can benefit further from the assistance of professional resume writers. Revision Resume is here to help by offering either a resume critique, (to verify the resume you will submit to job openings meets current guidelines and is error-free), or a professionally crafted resume, optimized for the job opening you are applying for.