Job Hunting Tips for Teenagers

No matter what the government has to say about it, more South Africans are out of work that ever before. Getting your first job is complicated if you lack experience and do not fit the demographic requirements. Consider taking on a part-time job that could turn out a full-time one while you gain experience. If the pay is lower than you hoped for, apply to make money by doing surveys on this website.

Young South Africans from Orange Farm Township

The key to getting any job is to understand the system. Employers get so many applications that the boss can never them read all. So they give them to a clerk who sorts them into "maybe" and "definitely not" piles. Your first step is getting into the "maybe" pile, and this needs careful planning.

List Things That Interest You

Cashiers in Clicks and Checkers clearly do not enjoy their jobs. Perhaps they think they are above them. I think it is more likely that they do not find them interesting. If you want to succeed in life, then do something you enjoy. Remember this every time you go to work.

List Possible Local Employers

Let's say you enjoy working in cars, love trying on new clothes, or always wanted to be a chef in a restaurant. That gives you one of three lines of opportunity. You could become:

  • A motor mechanic assistant
  • A salesperson in a boutique
  • A learner cook in a fast food outlet

These days, boys and girls can succeed in any of these jobs and thousands more besides. Think big. Do not limit yourself. The world is your oyster. Become the pearl. But remember, only apply for jobs you feel that you can do, and would enjoy.

Finding Opportunities

Watch the jobsites on the internet and the newspapers carefully to see what jobs are on offer. If you don't have a computer or can't afford a newspaper, both should available at your school or municipal library for free. Please do not tear the advertisements out. That's unfair. Write the information on a piece of paper. Then contact the employer for an application form. You can also apply directly if you really feel inspired.

The First Phase of Your Application

All employers use application forms so they get enough information about each candidate to make the right decision. The biggest deal-breaker in the job hunting business is a messy or incorrectly completed application form. Here's how to go about ensuring you are on the "maybe" list.

  1. Make a photocopy of the application form and put the original somewhere safe. Put your pen away and read the instructions first. That's everything except the spaces where you are going to write. Highlight important things with a light yellow colour so you can still read under it. Study the advertisement again. If you are not exactly sure what the company wants, ask for more information. Remember not to try to influence them.

  2. Complete a dummy application using the copy of the form you made. You may find some things difficult to fit into the spaces. Practice makes perfect. Remember, the employer may be testing to see how well you plan! Prove you are good at following instructions by providing all the information they ask for. Have somebody check for grammar and spelling mistakes.

  3. After everything is as right as you can make it, rewrite everything neatly on the original form. Finally sign and date it. Seal it in a new envelope big enough so that you don't have to fold it. Write the company's address on it, plus a note at the bottom that says something like "Application for Position of …" Finally, write your name, telephone number and address at the back, and either post it off, or hand it in to the employer as requested.

The Second Phase of Your Application

If you did as I advised and have given reasons why you are suitable for the job, then you should have a good chance of being invited for an employment interview. Your application was all that stood between you and rejection. Now you have to put everything you have into a single meeting.

  1. Be mentally prepared. Discuss things with your best friends and family members. Ask them to pose tricky questions like "why do you want this job", "what are your weak and strong points" and "what can you do to grow this company". These are challenging questions at the best of times. I am sure Jacob Zuma and Helen Zeller prepare for their interviews. So should you.

  2. Be gentle with yourself on the day. Dress smartly. Relax before the meeting so you aren't stressed when you get there. Make sure you are near the company offices an hour beforehand, and then grab a coke or a cup of coffee to collect your thoughts. Check your appearance in the mirror to make sure you still look good. Arrive for your interview fifteen minutes before time. After you report in, relax. You can learn a lot about a company's culture by observing.

  3. As the conference starts, be aware of the two-minute factor. Within that time, you will have assessed the other people. They will also have formed their first impressions of you. Answer questions as briefly as you can while being polite. Everybody will start relaxing. Things start looking good. Do not be overconfident. Avoid conflict, but speak your mind when you need to. When they ask if you have any questions, ask about the company and the particular job. Never discuss money unless specifically asked.

The interview is over. You did the best you could. Do not stress about what happened, and don't spend sleepless nights over it either. If you think it's appropriate, send a brief email thanking them for the interview. If the phone rings be ready for the call, because you got the job!

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