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Teen Unemployment Rate Remains Low — 4 Ways to Get a Job

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The unemployment rate among teens ages 16 to 19 was 10.4% in May, up from 10.2% in April. However, outside of last year, teen jobless rates haven’t been this low since the 1950s.

For teens on the fence about working this summer, it’s not too late to get a job. In fact, the current job market offers higher pay and more flexibility — even with more teens being employed. But some industries are significantly more teen-worker friendly than others, a recent LendingTree study shows.

Here are four ways for teens to get a job, whether for this summer or beyond.

4 ways to get a job as a teen

No. 1: Leverage your resources

Many resources are available to help teens find jobs. Schools may have lists of internships and jobs in the area, while local government organizations and community websites may track openings. And friends and family can be great resources, too.

There are also state programs designed to help teens get a job. For example, New York last month granted more than $46 million for summer jobs for disadvantaged youth through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The program targets young workers ages 14 to 20, which can help teens get a leg up in a tight job market.

No. 2: Job hunt strategically

One of the best options for teens can be to consider working at businesses where they’re already customers.

“Think movie theaters, restaurants, bookstores and places like that,” says Matt Schulz, LendingTree chief credit analyst. “I got my first job at a Wendy’s when I was 16 with my buddy because we wanted to eat for free. Things like that matter.”

It can also help to look at industries or job roles traditionally associated with a higher proportion of teen workers. Our roundup of best summer jobs for teens by industry found the highest rate of teen workers at bowling centers, shoe stores, car washes and hardware stores.

This isn’t meant to limit teens or keep them from pursuing other roles. It’s more about helping them understand their options as they start to think about a job for maybe the first time.

“Countless teens over the years have been a lifeguard, sold popcorn and nachos at the movie theater, cleaned dishes or manned the cash register at the local fast food place or hawked clothing for a retailer,” Schulz says.

No. 3: Get interview help

Interviewing is a skill. When you’re new to it — and you may not have any job history to help support your case — it’s especially important to prepare and get feedback.

“Parents can help kids prepare for a job interview,” Schulz says. “You don’t need to grill them or put too much pressure on them, but a little role-playing in which you ask them a few questions they might face in an interview can help make the whole process much less scary and intimidating.”

It’s also important to research your potential employer to see what skills they value most (like teamwork or customer service). That way, you can tailor your answers to showcase your abilities and increase your odds of landing the job.

No. 4: Consider non-traditional jobs

“If your kid leans more toward the entrepreneurial side of things, it’s great to encourage that, too, whether it’s in addition to or instead of working for someone else,” Schulz says.

In that case, it’s important to consider things like startup and maintenance costs and plan for those. (It may even make sense to get your teen a credit card so they can operate more independently.) This can provide a way to earn some extra cash over the summer and gain valuable experience running a business. Either way, mindset will be important for any teen looking to start work.

“It’s important for kids to understand that they have to start somewhere,” Schulz says. “That first job probably isn’t going to be glamorous, fun or lucrative, but it can be a great learning experience and a steppingstone to your next job.”

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