Teen Summer Jobs

I remember as a teenager I couldn’t wait to get to work and start making my own money. Since I couldn\’t get a regular job until I turned 16, I was willing to mow grass, babysit, and sell whatever products I could door to door. Along with earning my own money came a certain amount of freedom. I could spend or save as much as I made. Most of the time I spent it. But boy, was it fun.

Once I turned 16 I worked at least 2 jobs and still kept up good grades. Eventually I had saved up enough to buy my first car. But today teens are having a hard time even finding one job. In 1978 the employment to population ratio went from a high of about 50% for teens 16-19. Today it\’s at a low at about 30%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Part of the reason for that could be that teens are staying in school and not dropping out, or it could be that there are simply fewer summer jobs available. Many of the jobs are taken by adults who need the work to feed their families and can\’t find regular positions. Many small businesses are too nervous about healthcare and regulations and are cutting down on hiring full time positions.

But there is also a shift in attitude about work. Because the competition is going to be so fierce for them in the job market, many are going to summer school or taking unpaid internships to get a head start and boost their resumes. There\’s nothing wrong with that. But there is also a lot to be said for the value of a paycheck. And that money will come in handy if they do decide to go to college.

I never went to college, but I think that working all of those jobs early on did help prepare me and get me interested in being an entrepreneur.


Why Didn’t HR Call Me Back?

Out in the dating world it’s a common complaint. “Why didn’t he or she call back?” But the same thing happens in the job market, as job seekers are left wondering “Why didn’t HR call me back?”. The interview went well, you think they liked you, but then you never hear from them again. It’s hard not to take it personally.

This problem has always existed, but it’s even worse now with so many people out of work and for much longer periods of time. Here are a few reasons they may not be calling back:

  • They are overwhelmed – One reason they may not be calling back could be that HR departments are completely overwhelmed right now. Many of them are barely able to handle the applicants and interviews they have, and they just don’t have the time to respond to everyone that applies. It should be up to you to follow up. Start with a personal, hand written thank you note and follow up a couple of weeks later with a quick email. If you don’t hear back after that you can probably guess that they have either found someone else or decided to delay filling the position.
  • Position was eliminated – With the way things are changing so quickly these days, they may have even eliminated the position. It’s also a possibility that their position was eliminated or they were moved into another department or transferred.
  • Your contact information was wrong – It’s also possible that you had the wrong email or phone number on your resume. A couple of times I have looked for someone’s resume because I wanted to contact them and the email or phone number was wrong. That’s why it’s especially important to follow up so there is no way they won\’t have your info right there and handy.

Whatever the case, to the job seeker, who is putting in so much time and energy into finding a job, a quick email would at least let them know that the job is no longer open and they can move on to something else. It’s up to you not to wait too long for that to happen. Keep moving, and eventually the numbers game will be in your favor.

The Job Market is Still a Buyer’s Market

A buyer’s market is when supply exceeds demand. This means that purchasers have an advantage over sellers and can negotiate lower prices. We usually hear this term applied to the housing market when the buyers have the advantage over sellers in the market and have their pick of choices at lower prices. Like the housing market, the term buyer’s market can also apply to the job market and right now the job market is still a buyer’s market.

This means that employers have their pick of the best of the best to choose from. And they don’t have to pay top dollar for them. With the rate of unemployment to remain high for quite a while, it’s still a buyers market out there for employers. Many employers are simply overwhelmed by the shear number of resumes they get. Some employers can get up to 1,000 resumes, making it impossible to read all of them. If they are using automated screening systems they may be missing out on some very good, qualified candidates. These systems are initially only screening for certain keywords. If you don’t happen to have those keywords you may never even get the chance to get pass the front door.

Since employers know they hold the upper hand, they will often write up a complete fantasy description that no normal person would fill. I’ve seen job descriptions that almost seemed like a joke. “Looking for super model with a Phd, 30 years experience, must be proficient in advanced computer skills, highly organized, and provide 3 pages of referrals for receptionist position.” Okay, so that wasn’t a real job description. But I have seen ones that are pretty close.

As long as the job market is a buyer’s job market, job seekers must work harder at standing out and staying up to date on as many relevant skills as possible. Actively networking in person will help you skip over some of their initial automated systems and get them to see you face to face as a human being before tossing you out based just on keywords.




What Job Seekers in the U.S. Can Learn From Job Seekers in China

  • Don\’t be the first to name a price – This is simple negotiating 101. If you name a price too high you may not get the interview. If you name a price too low, they will negotiate from there and try to get it even lower. I know, it\’s kind of a damned if you do and damned if you don\’t situation. Let them start the negotiation.
  • Start at the bottom – Yes, I know you just spent a small fortune and years of your life in college getting a degree. But it\’s a buyer\’s market. Look at it this way, if you really work hard to prove yourself you won\’t be at the bottom for long. And you will also learn more about how the company works. Use the time to your advantage and learn as much as you can.
  • Develop empathy – By starting at the bottom you get a chance to know how it feels to step inside the shoes of the people who are the heart and soul of a company, grinding it out every day and making the company work. As you work your way up the ladder, you will have a better understanding of what they go through on a daily basis and you\’ll have skills and knowledge you wouldn\’t have if you just stepped in at the top.
  • It\’s perfectly fair to ask the interviewer upfront about what kind of job opportunities you can expect from the company. It\’s fine to start out at the bottom. Just make sure it\’s not a dead-end job.    

    Are You an Innovative Employee?

    As someone who has started several start up companies, I prefer hiring innovative employees. Why? For one thing they tend to be self starters. I’m able to give them the overall big picture and they get it quickly. I don’t have to hand hold them. I can also trust that they will make the right decisions on their own if I’m not around to discuss it with them.

    Another thing is that they tend to bring something extra to the table. Innovative employees are great problem solvers. This is the main reason I prefer to hire them. I’m good at seeing one side of my own business, but an employee with a creative mind is able to see things I can’t see because I’m too close to the company.

    If you recognize that you are this type of employee you might want to look for a job at a start up company. The pay may not be as good, but what you’ll learn will be invaluable. If you work for a start up you can bet that your boss is going to be an innovator themselves. There’s a lot to learn from someone who goes out on a limb to start a new company. If you keep your eyes and ears open you’ll get some lessons you never learned in school.

    Employees in a small start up company usually don’t have much of a job title. Or if they do, they’ll end up doing multiple jobs anyway. This allows you to learn while getting paid for it. Make the most of it and learn what you can.

    People who are only in a job for a paycheck usually don’t fit into the culture of a start up. You would do better to find a job in a company that appreciates your work style. One where you won’t have as much say as far as creativity.

    I’ve been told that creative employees will just up and leave me some day to start their own businesses. If that happens I will be the first to encourage them. In the meantime I get a problem solver who understands how to help improve my bottom line.