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Teens Get off your butt and get a job

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NEW YORK (6/12/12)--School's out, but if your kids have yet to look for a summer job, you're in luck. The number of teenagers hired in May 2012 was more than double the teens hired in May 2011. And yet, the majority of teens are not interested in working this summer (Time Moneyland June 5).

About 160,000 American teens were hired this May compared with 71,000 in May 2011. In May 2010 only 6,000 teens were hired--leading to the worst summer job market for teens since just after World War II, when returning servicemen were competing with high school kids for jobs.

Teens looking for work have a great chance of landing a job. Here's some help for the underage job hunter in your house from an Oregon (Wis.) School District newsletter:

  • Set goals. Help children define goals and set priorities for summer employment. Maybe they ¬†want money to pay for a new computer or a special trip, maybe they want to learn more about a certain industry, or maybe they just want a little spending money.
  • Fill out applications. Stress the importance of using nice handwriting on applications or typing them, as well as filling them out thoroughly. Some employers won't interview candidates who don't follow directions on the application.
  • Network. Encourage teens to let everyone know that they're looking for employment--teachers, counselors, friends and relatives. Even a Facebook post to a safe and select group of "friends" is a good place to start. You never know who's looking for someone to help with a business or knows of someone needing an extra hand.
  • Think logistics. Before your child applies for jobs, make sure he or she knows where the business is located. If you're going to be your child's only means of transportation, set limits for how far you're willing to travel, and when.
  • Be professional. Explain the importance of being prompt and well-groomed, speaking clearly and maintaining eye contact. A firm handshake and being confident helps too. A biggie--dressing appropriately. Your child may need a little help choosing something to wear to a job interview. To be safe, have your child err on the conservative side.
  • Prepare for the interview. Help your teen practice interviewing by role-playing. Pretend you're the potential employer and ask some tough, but real-life questions about instances such as calling in sick. Encourage your child to do some research about the company before the interview to show prospective employers an interest in the job.
  • Follow up. Encourage your teen to e-mail a short thank you letter to prospective employers reiterating interest in the job.
For more information, watch "How to Help Your Teen Enter the Work Force" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.