As summer approaches and more people are looking for work, those temporary summer jobs typically relegated to teens are now fair game for unemployed adults.
Look Where the Teens Look
When looking for a summer job, you should think like a teen: What do you want to spend your summer doing? It may be hanging out at the local pool or beach to work as a lifeguard. Or you might learn that your favorite restaurant needs extra wait staff for the summer rush. There’s also the local movie theater or an amusement park in your area. All are likely to be taking on extra help during summer months.
Rediscover Your Youthfulness
"This is not the time to tell someone that you have a master's degree in economics if you're applying for a job in say, lifeguarding," says Robyn Feldberg, career coach and president of the National Resume Writers Association.
The first step to de-emphasizing age, she said, is to focus only on your relevant skills and minimize the rest. This could mean opting to only put your previous company's name on your resume and the time you spent there, instead of a job title, leaving room to expand on the fact that you taught swimming in college.
"You definitely want to go in there with the most youthful appearance you can project," Feldberg says. She suggests job seekers keep their wardrobe up to date and grey hairs hidden.
But the most important thing is to project an air of confidence. While staying casual and appropriate to the specific job, emphasize the ways in which your age and experience will make you a more reliable and successful employee.
Do Your Homework and Be Prepared for Skepticism
Just because this is your neighborhood pool or favorite bar doesn't mean that the basic job hunting skills don't apply.
"Walk in there prepared, knowing something about the business, knowing something about the problems that they are facing and how to present yourself as the solution to those challenges," Feldberg says.
This could mean emphasizing your flexible work hours or access to reliable transportation.
It's fine to touch on the situation that brought you to the job, but emphasize how willing and happy you are to work for them and remind them of what you bring to the table. Even if you are looking at the job as temporary, don't treat it as such.
"I've seen some people that got their foot in the door, proven themselves, and been offered better jobs in the company," Feldberg says. "It can always lead to more."
Be Prepared for Teenage Wages
Be warned: This teen job will likely come with teen pay. Let your potential boss know that you are comfortable with it. Feldberg says it is always best to let them bring it up first, then discuss what your research has told you about the average salary and let the person know you are willing to work within that to find something that makes you both happy.
Lifeguards make about $10 an hour, servers make closer to $9.50 an hour, bartenders make about $8.50 an hour, amusement park attendants make about $9 an hour, and landscape workers make about $12 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, many teens make minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $6.55 an hour until July 24, when it increases to $7.25 an hour.
Despite the averages, you should investigate individual companies to find out their average pay before you apply.
Know the Laws
For the most part, employers may not ask you your age and can under no circumstances deny you employment solely because of it. According to the law, employers may ask for age on an application but it will open them to increased scrutiny if the employee ever feels the need to bring them to court.
According to the Age Discrimination Act, “It is unlawful...for an employer to discriminate in hiring or in any other way by giving preference because of age between individuals 40 and over.” That law also falls under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Section 188 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief.
People may refuse to answer if asked during an interview but in some cases revealing age may be a necessity if a company needs your full birthday for a background check. Those who feel they have been discriminated against may contact the American Civil Liberties Union, attempt to have the company criminally prosecuted under the statute or take them to civil court for damages.
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