Job Hunt

Many teens are competing with adults for the same jobs.


Did you know that 4.5 million teenagers in the United States have jobs? That’s a lot of working teens. But did you also know that the number of teens who work has shrunk by almost 4 million since the 1970s? It’s true.

One reason the number of employed teens has decreased is that in these tough economic times, teens are competing with adults for the same jobs. “One applicant will be 16 years old and the next one is a really over-qualified adult looking for part-time work,” says Trish Moore, a manager at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in New York City.

As the competition tightens, it’s important for teens to understand all aspects of the job-application process. One of the first things a job applicant is handed is a job application. (For a sample job application, see the Teacher’s Edition or go online to

On an application, you will be asked to provide the following information: personal information, such as your name, address, and phone number; when you are available to work; what school you attend; any jobs you’ve had in the past; and references, which are people (not family members) who can vouch for you.

FYI: Job Applications

1. Be mature. Ask to speak to a manager when picking up an application or turning one in. “I want to see your face and shake your hand because that shows you’re interested in working,” says Donna Rozwadowska, manager of a Subway sandwich shop in Brooklyn, New York.

Rozwadowska also suggests dressing in a presentable manner when picking up an application, and coming alone. “Showing up with a parent makes it look like they made you apply,” she says.

Additionally, apply during business hours and come prepared with all your information and references.

2. Write correctly and neatly. An application with misspelled words and illegible writing is a turnoff for employers. Use a blue or black pen. Ask for two copies of the application so you can use one to practice on.

3. Complete everything. Don’t rush through the application, leaving blank spaces. Think about your answers before you write too. “Sometimes people skip the section of our application that asks about your favorite movie,” Moore says. “Well, of course I’m not going to call you back if you skip that. We’re a theater!”

4. Experience isn’t everything. It’s OK if you don’t have prior work experience. Teens still have a lot to offer. Being a good student counts. “Good students make good employees 99 percent of the time,” Rozwadowska says.

List your extracurricular activities. Busy students are better at multitasking work and school, according to Rozwadowska. “I want employees who can handle responsibilities,” she says.

5. References matter. Employers check references, so choose wisely. If you’ve never worked, you can include a teacher or family friend you’ve helped out before. Just don’t list a family member or one of your friends.

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