If you’re a teen, there’s some good news in this otherwise sluggish economy—your chances of landing a summer job are better today than they were just a year ago.
According to a study released by Challenger, Gray & Christmas in April, the summer job market for teens accelerated last year, gaining more than 1,000,000 jobs in 2011. That’s a 13% increase, which is projected to rise even further this year.
The bad news—you need to disconnect to find those coveted summer jobs.
In the same report, Challenger acknowledged that filling out electronic applications and online job boards wouldn’t be enough for most teens to find a summer job. What does this mean? Teens looking for summer or part-time employment must get off of their computers and meet with hiring managers face-to-face to get hired—things today’s teens may not be used to.
According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study, only 33% of teens ages 12–17 spoke with friends face-to-face daily, as opposed to 54% who text messaged or 25% who connected with friends via a social networking site. The dearth of face-to-face communications among teens may be startling, considering the fact that they spend numerous hours at school in the same physical proximity as many of their friends. This lack of real-world interaction could prove problematic for the Millennial generation, who spend most of their time primarily connecting through technology.
With the recent rise in businesses creating an internet presence, its tempting to simply fill out an online application, hit “submit,” and hope for the best. Sites such as snagajob.com and hireteen.com list local jobs in chain stores and restaurants such as Chick-Fil-A, Target, and many other places where teens would traditionally find summer job opportunities. These centralized databases of job listings seem to be a one-stop shop to search by ZIP code, age, and even interests. The sites even offer tips on how to search for jobs, how to write a first resume, and how to navigate interviews. Pretty cool, huh?
However, while these websites and job boards offer sound advice and a centralized place for many listings, some of the most lucrative and worthwhile opportunities require applicants to look beyond their computer screens. Smaller local businesses often advertise positions within their stores or in the newspaper, but forego the use of online recruiting methods. Often, this is because smaller, independent businesses may not have the manpower or knowledge to manage online posting systems, opting to keep the hiring process closer to home.
For the more than 1 million teens looking to find a job this summer, or even part-time work during the school year, the challenge is to get out there and get some face time with local business owners. Teens should be encouraged to visit their favorite stores and restaurants, and speak with the manager about what they look for in a candidate and if they have any open positions. While there may be no immediate employment opportunities, that face-to-face impression will last, and pro-active, in-person teens may find themselves on the short-list of potential candidates when a position arises, while their digitally connected-only peers will lose out.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s still tremendous value for teens to tend to their online presences and explore job sites that offer specialized advice for teens looking for work. After all, the more places someone’s resume resides, the better chances they have for finding employment. But in this age of digital communication overload, there is something to be said for getting yourself physically out there to meet with potential employers. By disconnecting, not only will teens have better chances for employment, but they will also be building necessary interpersonal skills for their future careers.