How to Help Homeschooled Teens Land Their First Job

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When your homeschooled teen is ready for his first job, try these practical tips to help him confidently navigate the process from application to paperwork.

She looked at me doubtfully. “Your name is Kris Kris?” she asked. I wiped my sweaty palms on my pants and gave the interviewer a confused look as I told her my first and last name.

With a note of condescension in her voice, she informed me that I’d written my first name in both the first and last name spots.

My first job interview went downhill from there.

Months later, I landed my first job, but the haunting memory of my first embarrassing interview lingered. It spurred my desire to help my teens prepare for a better job-hunting experience.

Where Teens Can Look for Their First Job

The first step in landing a job is finding open positions. Teens should check the places they shop, eat, and hang out. Even if the places don’t advertise openings, ask the manager.

They can also check the corporate website for places they’d like to work. Most of the time, you can find a link to job opportunities near the bottom of the main page.

Seasonal work is also an excellent way for teens to gain work experience. If the job isn’t a good fit, they can leave at the end of the season without a negative impression. And, if they love the job, seasonal employment usually offers the potential for regular, part-time work.

Filling Out a Job Application

Today, almost all businesses prefer online applications. Many have application kiosks in their stores and don’t accept paper applications. Make sure your teen knows how to fill out a job application, paper or online, correctly.

You know, like putting her first name on the first name line and her last name on the last name line. {ahem}

First Job Tips: Know How to Fill Out a Job Application

It will be helpful for your teen to fill out a sample application at home to ensure she has all the information she needs for actual applications. Suggest that she ask for two blank applications if she requests paper copies from potential employers.

Most applications ask for two or three personal or business references. Make sure your teen has the first and last name, mailing address, and phone number for each of the people he’ll list. Consider seeking references from:

  • adult family friends
  • youth pastors
  • coaches
  • families for whom your teen has worked (babysitting, mowing lawns, etc.)
  • neighbors
  • co-op or elective class instructors

Discuss protecting his social security number with your teen. Unfortunately, many companies want an applicant’s social on the application so they can run a background check if they’re interested in the candidate.

I don’t think it should be required until further in the hiring process, but no one asked me. I advise my kids that if they’re on a reputable site (such as a nationwide company’s main web page) and they see “https” and the secure padlock in the browser window, it should be safe to enter their social for online applications. They check with their dad or me if they’re unsure.

The Interview

The interview is both the most exciting and the most nerve-wracking part of job seeking. Coach your teen for the best first impression with these tips.

What to Wear

No matter what kind of job your teen is seeking, a neat, clean appearance is vital. Suggest paring khaki pants or nice jeans (no holes) with a polo shirt or button down. My girls often prefer a dress for job interviews.

Kids should brush their hair and wear it out of their faces, brush their teeth, and make sure their nails are clean and trimmed. A neat appearance shows a potential employer that the job candidate respects his time enough to put some effort into her appearance.

First Job Tips: Dress Neatly for the Interview

My kids have some weird charm that they turn on during interviews because they get offered jobs nearly every time they get interviewed. One of the few times Brianna wasn’t offered the job was when she followed the advice of a relative who shall remain nameless. She dressed in ripped jeans and a t-shirt because that’s what the employees wore.

From that point on, all the kids have listed to my advice – no matter what the job is, a neat, clean appearance for the job interview is vital.

What to Do

On the day of the interview, arrive early. “On time” for an interview means at least 10 minutes early but usually not more than 15.

If you drive your teen to the interview, wait in the car. Bringing mom and dad along doesn’t scream, “I’m a mature, dependable job candidate.”

First Job Tips: Arrive on Time for the Interview

Advise your teen to make eye contact, greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake, and speak clearly.

Practice with your teen, using common interview questions so he’ll feel more confident during the process. Remind her to keep her references’ contact information handy in case she needs it.

And for the love of all that is holy, instruct your teen to leave his or her cell phone in the car or turn it on silent and don’t check it during the interview.

Getting the Job

Once an employer offers your teen a job, help him open a checking and savings account. Many employers don’t offer paper checks anymore. Instead, they’ll put employees’ earning on a payroll debit card if they don’t have a checking account.

When Brianna got her first job, it didn’t take us long to learn that those cards are a pain in the behind. She opened a checking account after a few months. We made sure Josh and Megan had accounts before they got their first paycheck.

Once your teen has a checking account, make sure he knows how to fill out direct deposit forms. Show him where to locate his bank’s routing number and his checking account number on his checks, deposit slips, or banking app.

Ensure that he knows how to fill out those dreaded tax forms. Print a sample W-4 at home and go over it with your teen so he’s confident completing it on his own for his employer.

You’ll probably want to print a sample I-9 form, as well. Your teen can practice completing it and make sure she has the required types of identification.

Finally, you’ll likely need to sign a work permit provided by your teen’s employer. Depending on the homeschooling laws in your state, you may have to sign the form and have it notarized or take it to your county school board for signatures.

The freedom and independence teens experience with their first part-time job are an exciting part of growing up. A part-time job provides an excellent opportunity to gain real-world money management skills and build a teen’s work ethic.  Help make the job-seeking experience a positive one for your teen with these tips. Just tell them Kris Kris wanted to help.

What tips would you add?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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One Comment

  1. Hi there. I am 3 years into my second marriage. My husbands youngest step-daughter is 25. She cant keep money in the account, has never done her own taxes and her Dad had to help her fill out all her FAFSA loan applications. She has 2 jobs but it seems we supplement her income every week. He never taught her how to keep a checkbook and she has only a debit card, and doesn’t keep a record in anyway until she has no $$ in the bank.

    My boys Dad when he was alive kept perfect records and knew where everything was all the time. They watch their step family waste money like crazy and do not want to end up the same way. I have asked numerous times for her not to be allowed any more money. She is not going to learn.

    I am doing Entrepreneurial math and mixed in some Dave Ramsey stuff with my teen who is about to hit the job market. He’s thankful cos its overwhelming.

    thanks keep up the great work
    Julie T.

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