How To Get A Job: A Guide For Teens

by Julia Klimek

Young people just don’t want to work anymore and Gen Z is lazy, are phrases that much of the older generation have been saying lately. However, this isn’t true. Young people want to work: they just don’t know how to find jobs or how to get hired without any experience. 

According to Zippia The Career Expert and its article “High School Job Statistics [2022]”, “since 2000, the percentage of teens working summer jobs has fallen from 51.7 percent to 30.8 percent, while the percentage of teens working jobs throughout the non-summer months has fallen from 43 percent to 27.5 percent.”

But why are the percentages for teen employment so low?

According to CNBC and its article “Why So Few Teenagers Have Jobs Anymore”, “High school has become more intense. Students have increasing demands on what it is that high schoolers need to be doing and how much time that takes, not only homework and course requirements, but other graduation requirements like public service. There is less time in the day to hold down a job,” said Laura Bauer, a co-author of the study.  

Estefani Lopez, an 18 year old student at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), does not currently have a job. She expresses some of the struggles she’s faced when trying to find one. 

“It is difficult just finding jobs because people are always looking for experience. This creates a problem for new people trying to find somewhere to work. I want to work, but have not been given the opportunity to,” she explains. 

Rodolfo Rodriguez, a 17 year old student at FSSA, worked for Cold Stone Creamery for months. He was also able to pick up smaller jobs, such as dog walking, garbage sorting for his neighbors, and more. Although it may look easy, he admits it was extremely difficult to get these jobs.

“Difficult’ is an understatement for finding a job. I went months on end looking for jobs and am not exaggerating when I say I applied everywhere in Astoria,” Rodolfo said. “The main issue with finding a job for me was that people wanted someone 18 and older and would not give me the opportunity to demonstrate my work ethic. Another issue I found was that businesses don’t really like people in school since the scheduling is smack in the middle of the day. Some kids come out of school around 5:00pm and businesses look for morning and night shifts, so the school hours can be imposing,” he said.

So how do teenagers gain experience in the workforce? A lot of people have connections through family and friends. Others find these jobs online or pass by stores with signs that say Hiring Now

If you’re a teenager looking for a job here’s a guide that might help you


A resume is a formal document that helps a job applicant show employers their qualifications for jobs. You will be asked to submit this for almost every job you apply for. 

On your resume you will need to list your job experience, the skills you possess, your education, and personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, and email address. When listing your job experience don’t forget to include the position you held, the amount of time you’ve worked there, the location of the job, and the responsibilities you held. 

But what if you don’t have job experience? That’s okay. You can still create a strong resume by listing any volunteer work or community service you have done, awards and accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and more.  


A cover letter is a one page document that introduces you to your employers and summarizes your professional background. This allows an employer to find out why hiring you may be a good idea! Some jobs will require this document while others will make it optional, but it may still be a good idea to include one in your application as it can boost your chances of getting hired.

In a cover letter you will include your personal information, the date in which you’re writing the letter, contact information of the employer, including the address, phone number, name of employer (if possible), and the job position you’re applying for. 


References are people who the employer can contact for more information about you. They may ask about your work experience, work habits, character, and skills. References can be your former employers, teachers, co-workers, friends who will vouch for you, and more. Remember to choose people who truly know you and will speak well on your behalf. Avoid using family members. Only use friends as references if you truly have no other people. 


This is the most important document you’re going to need for a job. It provides you with work authorization. You cannot legally work without this if you are of the age 14-17. Luckily, this document is easy to get. It can be obtained from your high school (FSSA students can visit Mr. Tyrone in the main office for this). You will need a parent’s signature as well as a doctor’s signature stating that you are physically able to work. 


Some important documents to have ready for your job applications, interviews, and jobs overall are working papers, proof of identification (this could be a state issued ID like your driver’s permit or your passport), proof of age (this could be your birth certificate or passport), social security card, and work permit.  


A lot of jobs can be found online now! This makes job searching a lot easier and more efficient. Some popular online platforms are Indeed, Culinary Agents, Linkedln, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor. You can even filter your job search for specific positions, locations, part time vs full time options, levels of experience, and more. 


Most employers will require the job applicant to come in for an interview to truly determine if they are truly fitted for the job. Depending on the job setting you will want to dress a bit nicer than usual. If it’s a casual job setting still make sure to not wear dirty clothing, sweatpants, or ripped clothes. You do not want to look too casual. For jobs with more formal settings, dress more formal/business casual. You want to make a good impression! 

But how can you truly prepare for your interview? Here are some questions the employer may ask you and ideal responses to them:

  1. “What is your desired salary?” Negotiable. 
  2. “What is your schedule?” Be honest and don’t push yourself to work more than you can. 
  3. “Tell me a little about yourself.” Try to keep this professional. A bad thing to say would be something like “My name is ____. I like cats, dogs, music, Thai food…”. That information is not relevant to the job position you’re being interviewed for. A better example of an answer to this question is “Hi! My name is Julia. I am currently a senior high school student at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. I am expected to graduate in June 2022. I don’t have much experience, but I have gained skills of teamwork, communication, and positive attitude through volunteer work I’ve done in the past. I am very willing to learn…”. You want to advertise yourself and relate your answer to some of the qualities the employers are looking for. 
  4. “Why do you want this job?” Do not just say “I need money”. You should be honest, but not too casual. A better answer would be “I would like to gain experience in this area of the workforce. I also believe this job will give me the necessary skills I need for my future career goals”. 


Part time jobs require people to work fewer hours. Full time jobs require people to work more hours, making a full commitment to the job throughout the day. The idea of a “9 to 5” describes this concept. 

As a student, applying to part time jobs is ideal. You will get to work shifts after school or on the weekends without interfering with school hours. You may also not be required to work every day of the week. 


Some great job positions in which you can gain some experience in the workforce are server, dishwasher, cashier, host/hostess, babysitter, dog walker, usher, and busser. When applying for these positions make sure that the description mentions no requirement of experience. 

Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is also a great opportunity for teenagers that are looking for summer jobs. Applications usually open up in the beginning of March and are due by the end of April. You will then be put in a lottery and get contacted if you’re chosen. If you are chosen you will submit more necessary documents and attend orientations. Applying for SYEP is quick and easy! All you need is to provide some personal information, such as your social security number and date of birth, your career interests, and your family’s income. SYEP usually offers summer camp counselor positions, which is a great opportunity to gain some experience for your resume. The program takes place during 6 weeks of the summer (July-August).