Learning about job openings
High school students can be hired for jobs in a variety of ways. But first, you need to find out what opportunities are available. To make this happen, keep your eyes and ears open. For example, you may see a “Help Wanted” sign in a store window. You may find a posting on a company’s website or on social media. You may hear about a job through word of mouth.
Another way to discover opportunities is by asking people in your network if they know of any jobs that might be a good fit for you. To learn more about networking, read Networking Basics for High School Students.
Applying for a job
There are two main ways to let an employer know you’re interested in a job:
- Application: Some jobs may ask you to fill out an online or paper form. These applications typically ask for your level of education, work experience, and contact information.
- Résumé: Some employers may ask you to send in your résumé. Think of a résumé as an introduction, helping people get to know you. In a page or two, a résumé summarizes your knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, education, and accomplishments. To learn more about how to create a résumé, read Anatomy of a High School résumé.
Note: Many processes will require both items and ask you to repeat information you provide in a résumé in an application and have it formatted the way they like for review.
Most employers will want to meet you in person, or at least speak with you over the phone or via video chat, before hiring you. This is their chance to learn more about you and decide if you’d be a good addition to their organization. Depending on the job, an interview could include a test (e.g., to assess your skill level with a specific computer program) or audition.
Be careful to make a positive first impression at an interview. No matter what job you’re interviewing for, you’d do well to follow these basic rules of professionalism:
- Be on time. That way they’ll know they can trust you to show up to work when they need you.
- Dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to dress up. If the job position is camp counselor, for example, shorts or jeans may be fine.
- Be polite. This may seem obvious, but a well-placed “please” or “thank you” can go a long way. Other ways to be polite include listening, asking relevant questions, and not looking at your phone during the interview.
Keep in mind that interviews are two-way conversations, meaning you’re interviewing the employer as well. This is a chance to ask your own questions. Before you have this meeting, think about what you’d like to know about the job. Questions can cover many topics, including your specific responsibilities, hours and pay, and opportunities for advancement.
Getting the offer
If an employer is interested in hiring you, they’ll give you an offer. This might happen at the end of the interview or at some point after that meeting. The offer should include information like pay, hours, start date, and any other instructions (e.g., dress code or uniform). If you choose to accept the offer, make sure to confirm the offer information to ensure it matches what you were told in the interview process.
Will this process be the same when I’m older?
As you age, hiring can follow this same process, but there can also be differences. For example, if you’ve gained prominence in your field, you may have people reach out with job opportunities you haven’t applied for. They may have simply learned about you from your reputation, from mutual contacts, or from having worked with you in the past. Because you’ll have a larger professional network at that point, you may be able to rely more on your network for news about openings. You may eventually choose to go down a different career path, in which case your hiring process may include questions about your old occupation and what you’re hoping to get out of this change.
Finally, one day you might be in a position to hire other people. This is both exciting and a good way to see this process from another angle.