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Teenage job seekers; begin with the end in mind!

The school holidays begin next month and lots of young hopefuls will be pounding the pavement looking for their very first paying job. Typical advice for these kids is to formulate a resume and start knocking on the doors of every business they come across. In my view, every resume, even your first one, needs to be targeted for a specific industry or job. This not only benefits the employer, but the job seeker as well. As a wise person once told me, begin as you mean to go on.

A good job search at any age includes soul searching and research. Start with yourself. Where do you want to work, and why? What are your interests, skills and goals? What practical things do you need to consider, like location and working hours? For instance, maybe you have a keen interest in music, are skilled at playing the guitar, and hope to progress towards a fine arts degree at Uni. Perhaps the local music store is a target employer for you. But if you are only free to work on Sundays and that’s the day they are shut, it’s not going to work.

One of the most common questions you can expect to be asked in any interview, regardless of the job, is “Why do you want to work here?” A convincing answer to this question is vital for the discussion to continue. Young people may think they just want any job that comes with a pay packet; it is well worth taking the time to consider other factors that directly link to job satisfaction. Equally, employers really want employees who are a good fit for their businesses. Researching the organisation is key.

Once you consider the practicalities of what businesses are in your neighbourhood and operate when you are free to work, think about which places interest you and why. Do you love animals? Is there a local groomer or vet that might employ junior staff? Considering a career in healthcare? What about the local Chemist? Keen on fashion? Try the mall. Sometimes the connections might not be so obvious. If you’re hoping for a future career in international business or marketing, there’s a whole lot to learn by working at one of the fast food giants, whose corporate business models prove success, despite what we may think of the food!

Now on to the resume. That gets a little tricky when you don’t have any paid work experience…or does it? Employers understand everybody must start somewhere; the trick is making a convincing argument for what you can do, that fills the need they have.

Once you’ve focused on a targeted industry, you can tailor your skills and know which experiences to highlight based on the needs of that role. If you’re hoping for a role as a supermarket cashier, you could note your high marks in Maths to show your aptitude for cash handling, and mention how you’ve developed customer service skills whilst being a volunteer guide at your school open day. If you’re involved in sport, talking about how you’ve fostered teamwork will be more useful in retail than highlighting your batting average.

With your resume in hand, the big day will arrive when you begin approaching targeted employers. Make sure your personal presentation is squeaky clean from top to bottom, and remember to “google” yourself before you head out. Don’t let all your good work come undone when an employer finds some less than professional posts on social media!

Having a genuine answer to “Why do you want to work here” will go a long way toward helping you make great career decisions, now and in the future. And it will convince your employer that you are the right person for the job!

For more tips on scoring your first job, please visit my website: Or get in touch, I’d love to help!

Good luck and Happy job hunting,

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