10 Wrong Assumptions Teens Make When Seeking Work

Do you think you know everything about finding a job?

Many teens think they know the right way to getting or keeping a job, but they often blame their unemployment or dissatisfaction on others. Many base their choices on their parent’s expectations, their friend’s expectations, society’s expectations as well as their financial expectations.

Here are ten assumptions that teens often make when searching for a job:

1. A summer or part-time job must be within your career path.

Many teens choose to follow their career dreams through summer or part-time jobs. However, whether you are sure or unsure about your career goals, take the opportunity to try for a job that interests you. Now is the time in your life that you can take risks or try jobs just for the fun of it. So if you want to work as a clown, pet sitter or kids’ baseball umpire, now is the time to do it.

2. Choosing a career path is simple.

Actually, choosing a career is an involved process and you should give it the time it deserves. Career planning is a multi-step path that involves learning enough about yourself and the occupations which you are considering in order to make an informed decision. Talk to your friends, parents, parents’ friends, friends’ parents and guidance counselor. Oh, and plan to change your career throughout your lifetime as industries, technologies and your interests change. So don’t put pressure on yourself to know it all now or to find a summer job on that path.

3. Getting a job at McDonalds or Walmart is not constructive for my future.

Many teens make the mistake and think that a job flipping burgers or stocking shelves is beneath them or won’t help them in their future career. That is totally incorrect. Firstly, there is no shame in working – at any job. Even if you plan to be a doctor or a movie director, these types of jobs teach you communication skills, networking, managing relationships and customer service. All key skills needed regardless of your career.

Secondly, a lot of these jobs also teach business skills such as money management, inventory tracking and working in teams. It is these types of skills that will be highlighted on your résumé that you will use to get your career launching job in the future. You can’t get these skills watching Jersey Shore reruns.

Plus, you may actually have fun at these places.

4. I can’t make a living from my hobby.

Says who? When choosing a career path, it makes perfect sense to choose one that is related to what you enjoy doing in your spare time. In addition, people tend to become very skilled in their hobbies even though most of the skill is gained informally. So if you are a gamer, look into getting a summer or part-time job working for a game developer even if the job is ordering supplies. You will learn from the developers what the job is really like and what skills you need to reach your goals.

5. If I don’t get a response from my job application, then I should just move on.

Many people make the mistake of submitting a job application or résumé and wait to get a call back. When they don’t hear back, they assume that they are rejected. Not true.

Sometimes you need follow up with the hiring person. This shows that you have initiative and that you really want the job. Even if you get a rejection, then at least you will know that you should move on. If you are rejected, take the opportunity to ask why so that you can make the necessary changes to get the next job. Don’t take it personal – it is just business. It may take a few calls to get an answer. Don’t be a nuisance but do be persistent. Studies have shown that it takes 5-12 times to make a “sale” – most people stop at 3. Don’t lose out because you assume the worst!

6. Making a lot of money will make me happy.

While salary is surely important, it isn’t the only factor you should look at when choosing a job. Countless surveys have shown that money doesn’t necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For many people enjoying what they do at work is much more important. And if you enjoy what you do, you will be good at it which will help you succeed later in your career.

7. Volunteer work is useless because I won’t earn money.

Not true. You can get the best work experiences through volunteering. Many charitable organizations such as animal shelters are desperate for volunteers. This means that you may be able to do tasks that a paying job would never let you. For example, you may start working at an animal shelter scooping litter boxes but, once there, you may offer to help with fundraising or event planning or marketing or graphic design. These organizations can’t afford professionals and don’t require someone to have experience to do these tasks. Sure you won’t get paid, but you will get an opportunity to try out your graphic design skills and be able to put that on your résumé. Besides, charities are the best places to network and meet really great people.

8. I can wait until July to get a summer job.

Good luck with that approach. Because of the struggling economy, teens are now competing with college graduates for summer employment. A lot of the best summer jobs are snatched up by grads by April and May. So by the time you clean out your locker, a lot of opportunities will be long gone. Depending on the job that you are seeking, start your search no later than May. Have all your materials ready (résumés, target list of companies, discussion points highlighting your skills, etc.) by March or early April. And start the search soon after asking if the company plans any summer openings. Don’t miss out on an opportunity just because you assume that everyone will wait for you.

9. I should look for a summer job where I can work with my friends.

Everyone is different and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another – even if that other person is someone with whom you have a lot in common. If someone you know has a job that interests you, look into it but be aware of the fact that it may not necessarily be a good fit for you.

Plus many people have found that hanging out with a friend is one thing, but working with them is another. On the job, many people’s demeanor and focus change and many become much more serious. And if your friend gets you the job by putting a good word in for you, you have added responsibility to do your best and not tarnish his/her reputation. Sometimes working together ends friendships.

10. I don’t need a resume to apply for a summer job.

Nowadays, a résumé is actually expected in most job applications. Even if it is not, you should always provide a well-written résumé because it will highlight the skills that you want the employer to see. Job applications usually highlight just the past employers and titles. Your résumé speaks for you and tells the employer that you will be an asset to them even before the interview.

You will need to invest time and research in your job search as well as patience and an open mind. Regardless of your expectations of the job, make the most out of it. You won’t regret it.

[About the author: Suzanne Kleinberg is a Toronto based career coach and author who has provided consulting services to corporations, not-for-profit organizations and individual clients. With a B.A. in Economics from York University, Masters in Project Management and PMP certification, Kleinberg is an avid ‘career changer’, having worked in a variety of fields that include stock brokerage, advertising, television production, financial and IT.

In 2010, Kleinberg founded Potential to Soar, a unique career and talent coaching service wherein she guides new graduates, seasoned professionals and corporations, small and large, through private coaching, customized workshops and psychometric assessment tools.

Kleinberg’s books include Employee Rights and Employer Wrongs, an everyman’s guide to navigating the complex world of labour and employment law, It’s All About the Elizabeths, which introduces financial management to teens, and From Playstation to Workstation, aimed at youth starting their careers. From Playstation® to Workstation is available in paperback via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the author’s website.]
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