In the late 1970s, more than 70 percent of teens had summer jobs. This summer, only about 40 percent will. Though the challenging economy is partly to blame, less than 10 percent of unemployed teens even wanted a job last summer. However, early jobs can teach critical skills like time management, professionalism and the value of a dollar.

Getting a job, even as early as the summer after a teen’s freshman year, can make them more attractive to colleges, too. Colleges want students to use their free time wisely and well. Besides earning money, they can learn other things as well, such as maturity and responsibility. The best summer experiences are the ones that allow teens to explore their academic and career passions through exciting, engaging experiences.

Here are 5 tips for helping any teen or young adult land a summer job:

Think about your best skills and interests

You’ll have a better chance of enjoying the position and doing well if you choose something you’re interested in and that utilizes the skills you like to use. Here are some ideas:

o   People/groups: retail, office temp.

o   Kids: YMCA

o   Outdoors: amusement, pool, lawn care, landscaping

o   Sports: umpiring, coaching

o   Animals: Humane Society, vet clinic

Have a simple resume and references document

You’ll come across as much more professional and serious if you have a one page resume listing all jobs even if they were volunteer positions or things like babysitting, lawn care, and dog walking. Create a professional Word document listing your full name and all contact information in the header. Remember to use a professional email address (as opposed to a “fun” address or nickname) for any job search activities. Also list your schooling even if you’re still high school. A neatly assembled references document is another way to convey your professionalism and increase the hiring manager’s confidence level.


More people are hired via word-of-mouth than any other methods. Tell everyone you know (literally) that you’re looking for a summer job. If you give people an idea as to what you’re looking for and what skills you like to use, you’ll get a better response rate. Utilize social media, friends, instructors, relatives, and neighbors.

Apply in person where possible

Hiring managers are quite impressed with a person’s fortitude and courage when they show up and convey their interest in working for a particular business. This strategy works particularly well for any retail-type business like food service, restaurants, retail, and outdoor facilities like golf courses, sporting venues, and amusement parks. Dress the part like you’re going to be interviewed and bring along resumes, references, notebook, and pen. Tell them why you want to work there and how you can help them out.

Consider starting your own business

I started my own lawn cutting business when I was 13 because I was too young to get a regular job. I made $300 that summer ($1100 in today’s dollars), enough to open my first savings account and buy a new bike in the fall. Similar to point #1, think about your best skills and interests and start a business around them. Lawn care, landscaping, web work, coaching, music lessons, babysitting, dog walking, and moving help are all good options. You can promote your business low-cost or no cost via social media, flyers, and even Craig’s List.