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Youth Employment – The Essentials
A first job is an important milestone in a student’s life. Taking the first steps toward financial independence, as well as making a commitment to an employer, is both exciting and nerve-wracking. With the addition of geographic moves, military youth have their own unique experiences and challenges when it comes to securing employment. Military OneSource provides plenty of resources to help military families assist their teens as they tackle their first job search. Use the resources and strategies below to help your teen take the first steps toward employment success.
Filling out a job application
Your teen can find available jobs on most company websites or by inquiring at the place of business. Teens can also get assistance with their job searches through local teen or youth programs and Military and Family Support Center, which offer knowledgeable staff, classes and computer access. Teaching your teen the basics of completing job applications will help alleviate confusion and anxiety about job searching. Whether your teen will be completing an application at the place of business or a fillable form online, here is the general information requested on applications:
- Basic information. This information includes name, address and contact information.
- Available start date. If your teen is heavily involved in extracurricular activities such as basketball or skiing, starting a job in November might not be the right time to put the best foot forward with the employer. Help your teen figure out the optimum time to begin earning extra cash.
- Hours available to work each week. Before applying for a job, teens should determine how many hours they can work each week and still meet obligations of school work and demands of extracurricular activities and meetings. Help teens lay out their average weekly schedule and determine the work time available within that schedule.
- Desired salary. This is often minimum wage for entry-level positions.
- Skills relevant to the job or to being a reliable worker.
- Resume or cover letter. These items, especially the cover letter, should be customized for each employer and personalized with the hiring manager’s name whenever possible. Even if the application asks for work history, resumes and cover letters are often requested to be uploaded for online applications.
- Work history. This information includes company name and phone number, the position held, responsibilities and dates of employment.
- Education history. Be sure to include school name and type, such as high school or college.
- References. These can be personal and/or work-related, depending on your teen’s work history. References should always be asked ahead of time if they are comfortable serving as a reference; they should also be alerted to which employers your teen has applied so they are prepared when an employer reaches out for a job reference. In addition to your teen’s relationship to the references, you will need to provide contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses. Your teen should always thank references once a job is obtained.
- Equal Employment Opportunity and veteran status, as well as self-identification of any disability.
Getting the resume ready.
Make sure your son or daughter has a good resume ready to go. You never know when an employment opportunity will arise and a solid resume allows your child to be ready when opportunities occur. Use Military OneSource and the Department of Labor’s Career OneStop tools to draft the resume, compare formats and styles, and explore resume guidelines, tips and samples to ensure your child’s resume looks professional. Teens can also get assistance with resume development or review through local teen or youth programs and Military and Family Support Center.
Completing employment documentation
Employment documentation is confusing for adults, let alone someone facing these documents for the first time. Your child will be asked to complete the following forms in the first day(s) of employment. All of the required documentation should be treated as sensitive information. To avoid identity theft, your child should never email or leave this information with anyone but the hiring manager.
- Work permit
- Work permits vary by state, but typically teens between the ages of 14 and 17 will need to acquire work permits. Have your teen consult the high school guidance or counseling office or contact the superintendent’s office.
- W-4, or Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
- This form sets up your child’s federal income tax withholding.
- The W-4 requires your child’s social security number.
- I-9, or Employment Eligibility Verification
- The I-9 requires both proof of identity and authorization to work.
- This form also requires your child’s social security number.
- There are many acceptable combinations for employment eligibility verification, but the most common documents used for verification are:
- Passport only
- Both a valid driver’s license and birth certificate
- Your child can find a complete list of acceptable I-9 documentation at USCIS.gov.
Setting up direct deposit for paychecks
Most employers pay via direct deposit into a savings or checking account. If your child hasn’t already done so, visit your local bank branch to set up an account. Direct deposits are handled through the Automated Clearing House network, and your child can expect pay deposits to show up on his or her monthly bank statements coded with the acronym ACH. The following information is required to set up direct deposit:
- Bank account number
- Bank routing number (ask your bank for its specific nine-digit code)
- Account type (savings or checking)
- Bank name and address (any branch will do)
- Name(s) of all account holders on the account
Interning is a great way to get your teen’s foot in the door. Your teen can learn a lot about the company while making valuable connections. Ask around your installation, community centers and local businesses about internship opportunities. Job websites, such as Indeed, also list internship opportunities for both high school and college students, and you can search MilitaryINSTALLATIONS for opportunities at your installation. The Defense Department offers internship opportunities through its STEM program, available to both high school and college students.
Finding and connecting with a mentor
The military community is full of role models from whom your youth can learn about their job experience. A strong network is key, and a mentor can unlock educational and professional connections. Better yet, mentors can provide the support, guidance and coaching that will help your son or daughter figure out the right path. Start by asking a future mentor for a 15-20 minute conversation. Have your teen explore your community arsenal for someone who can help:
- Neighbor, relative or family friend
- Trusted employer or manager
- Counselor, coach or teacher
- Camp counselor or youth group leader
- Religious leader
Building skills through volunteering.
You are part of a community committed to serving, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in and around your installation. It’s a great way for youth to build resume skills, make connections and stay busy during their job search. Your installation youth center or Military and Family Support Center can connect your youth to a volunteer coordinator who can provide a list of volunteer openings.