Help your kids find work

Studies have shown that students can work while they're in high school and college - to the tune of around 15 hours a week- without compromising their grades.  And in fact, it may help them become more financially responsible adults.Studies have shown that students can work while they’re in high school and college – to the tune of around 15 hours a week, which is about two weekend days and a few hours on Friday – without compromising their grades. And in fact, it may help them become more financially responsible adults. I certainly believe it will.

The bigger problem, particularly in this economy, could be finding work. There’s more competition for all jobs these days, and jobs for kids – which tend to be hourly – are no different. Here, a few tips for helping your kids snag a good opportunity:

  • Network. Actually, have your kid network. But first, sit down with him or her and brainstorm possibilities – does your family know any business owners or others in the position to hire? Do friends or relatives know any? Follow the breadcrumbs and pursue all possible leads, because this is one of the best ways for kids to land a job. This is particularly true if they’re on the younger side (14 or 15), which generally requires a work permit. Some businesses may not want to go to the trouble, but a family friend is most likely to help.
  • Think outside the box. The local fast food restaurants and grocery stores are going to fill their positions fast, so look in less obvious places: Resorts, movie theaters, amusement parks, plant nurseries, camps. Use on-line resources to search for websites that focus on jobs that pay by the hour.
  • Spruce up their image. When I talked about this on the Today show recently, I mentioned that I think piercings should come out and tattoos should be covered. Call me old, I don’t care. I recently interviewed a young woman with a teensy nose ring for a position working for me and I could not get past it. Of course, it depends on the position, but clothes and resume should also be professional, and don’t forget to look at their online presence – the Facebook page, Twitter account, and anything else that could turn up in a potential employer’s search.
  • Encourage their inner entrepreneur. If your child’s search runs dry, help brainstorm other sources of income: mowing lawns, babysitting, walking dogs, even doing social media for small businesses that need help setting up a Facebook or Twitter page. And remember that particularly during the summer, hiring tends to happen in waves – turnover is fast in the kinds of jobs that tend to hire teenagers, so just because something doesn’t turn up right away doesn’t mean you’re at a dead end.
  • Help younger kids work, too. If kids are old enough to get an allowance, they’re old enough to earn a little extra. Younger kids just need to focus their work around the house. Have them do extra chores you might otherwise pay someone else for (walk the dog, clean out your car) for some extra spending money.

Have you helped your child find work? We’d love to hear what you learned from the experience!

Jean Chatzky

About Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC’s TODAY show, is an award-winning personal finance journalist, AARP’s personal finance ambassador, and a contributing editor for Fortune magazine. Jean is a best-selling author; her eighth and most recent book is Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security. She believes knowing how to manage our money is one of the most important life skills for people at every age and has made it her mission to help simplify money matters, increasing financial literacy both now and for the future. In April 2013 Jean launched Jean Chatzky's Money School , a series of college-style, interactive online personal finance courses that give men and women across the country the opportunity to learn from and interact directly with her. Jean lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.
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3 Responses to Help your kids find work

  1. Anonymous says:

    Things must have changed since I was a teen job seeker because resorts, movie theaters, and amusement parks were typically the “first” places we’d look for work, since a benefit of working at such places was either free admission, tips, or discounts on entertainment. Fast food was usually our last choice because it was considered “unglamorous” in teen circles. I agree on image presentation. Nose rings and visible tattoos might be okay for working at Tower Records or Hot Topic, but when you’re interviewing – or even just picking up an application – put on your best impression…you might be speaking to the manager and not know it. Here’s an idea for a young person…check out foreclosures around town and see which ones have overgrown weeds, unmowed lawns, etc. Contact the bank who owns it and offer your services to keep it up regularly.

  2. Amy says:

    If your children are like mine and have grown up on athletic fields, encourage them to become certified as referees in their favorite sport(s). My sons do well financially on weekends refereeing recreational and travel soccer games, and their friends also referee basketball games and umpire baseball games. Not only do they earn much more than minimum wage, but their uniforms are tax-deductible business expenses.

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