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Helping your teenager to get a job

Parents all hope that their teenagers will leave high school, go to college and maybe go on to university, the end result being a well paid, prestigious career. Some teenagers struggle academically and cannot wait to leave school, they may be truants and hate studying, staying only at school because the law requires them to attend. Other teenagers, happily contemplating college, have negotiated with their parents a certain amount of freedom which they need money to enjoy.

At some stage a parent will utter the immortal words, “if you want that, you will have to pay for it yourself”, and the teens allowance or pocket money simply is not enough to purchase the desired item. Whether the teenager needs a part time job or a full time paid occupation, the job market can seem like alien territory to the average teen. This is the opportunity for parents to show their worth, and at the same time, help a teenager to understand the rules of the world.

Few employers would be impressed by an employee unable to follow rules, or who is rude and answers back. A defiant teenager looking for a job, gives the parents the golden opportunity to demonstrate that defiant behavior is not going to help the teen progress in the world. Teenagers may have received some guidance at high school regarding appropriate interview techniques and how to write a resume, but the teen will still need support in these areas.

It is not a good idea, to simply find the teenager a job, through friends or family, there is no learning curve for the teenager in that approach. Although the parents may see this as helpful, the teen may well see it as interference! If the teenager rejects the offer to work for family, or friends, they are asserting their independence and should be allowed to get on with finding their own job. If their own search fails, the family job could be suggested, but not as a done deal, simply as an opportunity to be investigated by the teen.

Any job with family or friends should follow correct recruitment processes, this way the teen gains proper exposure to the real world, and does not feel they are getting priority treatment. The opposite should also hold true; a teenager that expects their parents to find them a job should be given a reality check!

If a teenager gets a job that the parents disapprove of, the reasons for disapproval need to be compelling to question the teenagers’ decision. Just because the parents would rather the teen has a white collar job does not mean the teens job choice is unsuitable. Part time jobs are a chance for teenagers to practice their social and communication skills. If the teenager has secured a full time job instead of college, the parents need to discuss this choice without criticism; it should be a proper talk, weighing up the pro and cons, not an argument.

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