There comes a point in every parent’s life where the simple act of leaving the house with family in tow costs money. In other words, raising a child gets increasingly expensive the older they get. Compared to the active teen who’s involved in sports, music, drama clubs, and science fairs, a newborn is practically free.
The good news is they grow up and eventually reach the age of gainful employment, when they can (ideally) start funding their own hobbies and interests. The tricky part, however, is finding a way to encourage their job search without becoming overbearing or demanding. You want your child’s first work experience to be a positive one, so forcing her into something she’s uncomfortable or unhappy with just for the sake of a paycheck is likely to backfire.
So how do you politely push your teenager into getting a job without turning into a helicopter parent (the most recent scourge of humanity)? Start with these helpful tips.
Help Them Get Organized
Unless you’re a well-connected parent with lots of business-owning friends, chances are good your kid will need to fill out more than a couple job applications. This task can seem overwhelming, especially for a rookie. But even veteran job seekers struggle with filling out applications. There’s one simple way to ease this stress: get organized.
Help her assemble lists of all her past jobs, including any unpaid job she picked up here or there. Babysat for cousin Johnny? Add it to the list. Mowed the neighbor’s lawn last summer? Add it to the list… and be sure you include contact info for each past employer, as most applications will require that information.
When you’ve finalized the jobs list, go back and help your teenager write out descriptions of what all the jobs entailed. This is where your experience will really help, as you know well what employers are looking for in an entry-level candidate. Be creative, but stay truthful.
On most job applications, you’ll also find a question asking about special skills, training, or certification. Here’s another list opportunity (and a chance for you to shine a light on all of your teen’s positive attributes). It’ll be faster and easier for her to apply for a new job if she has all the relevant information listed out and ready to go. Getting organized will ease the burden of filling out multiple job applications.
Help Them Search & Prepare
This may seem obvious, but it’s important for you to actually show your kid how to go about looking for a job. Teenagers may be more tech savvy than adults, but that doesn’t mean they know anything about job boards or how to use them. Snapchat skills don’t translate to knowing how to use keywords to narrow down a search on Monster, Indeed, or any other job search engine.
The know-how we adults take for granted comes from our experience… experience your first-time job seeker doesn’t have. Never forget that. With your background, you can coach your child on things like what an HR job description really means, the different kinds of benefits to ask about, and even what to look for in a potential boss.
Other ways you can help your teenager find her first job include taking her shopping for a few new wardrobe pieces, driving her to interviews, and helping her prep for those interviews. You know the questions a manager is likely to ask during an entry-level job interview, so write them down and go through them with your kid. Help her craft confident answers, but also explain how it’s important to ask questions of your own.
Stay Out of the Way
This may be the hardest part for a parent. At the end of the day, you’re not the one applying, interviewing, and accepting the job. This is your kid’s job, and they have to be prepared to do the work on their own. Don’t be the helicopter parent who sits in on the job interview, answers the questions, and negotiates the job offer. If you do that, you’re undermining your child’s confidence and robbing them of a chance to experience the sense of achievement that comes with earning your own way.
You don’t help people by stealing their self-sufficiency. As a parent, it’s your job to support and coach your kids through the job search, preparing them for the world of employment. At some point, they need to show some initiative to reach their goals. Trust in them, and give them the freedom to strive and achieve in their own, unique way.