You think grown-ups are having a hard time finding work? Try teens. The teen unemployment rate in this country is more than 25% - about two-and-a-half times the overall national rate, according to the Labor Department.
For teens desperate for a part-time job this summer (and for parents hoping to get them out and about and away from the Wii), here is some advice.
1. Play Up Your Teen-Specific Skills
Combat competition from the grown-ups by playing up your teen-specific skills. The best ways to compete against the older crowd are to:
- Note that your hours are completely flexible.
- Talk up your Web and computer skills.
Adults tend to have more responsibilities and may not be able to work any and all hours of the week like you. And if you're a pro at social networking, don't be shy about it. More companies are looking for young workers to help them market their brands online. Pizza Hut, for example, is looking for a "twintern" this summer, an intern to help run the social networking arm of the company. Offer to do the same at some local businesses. Word on the street is that they're open to the idea.
2. Look into Federal Jobs
Government jobs pay at least $10 an hour, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. And the government has teen-specific openings. The student job search on USAJobs.gov lets you look for federal jobs by city and state.
3. Be the First to Apply
Discover job postings before everyone else with a few online tricks. First, sign up for free daily email alerts from job search sites like snagajob.com and simplyhired.com - set your preferences to focus on the type of business and your location. Next, visit a site like TwitJobSearch.com, a new job search engine that tracks postings on Twitter. There you can search for small businesses and big brands like Nike, Domino's, The Gap, etc and possibly find official company tweets mentioning current job offers.
Finally, by becoming a "fan" of a company's Facebook page you can start receiving updates from the company, including job postings. If it's a national company Facebook suggests you become a "fan" of the local branch, when possible.
4. Ask Family to Get the Word Out
Ask your parents or older brothers and sisters to help you network through their LinkedIn profiles. On LinkedIn you can see all the people you know (and don't know) in your professional network. It's like six degrees of separation. With their help, hop onto their account, type in the company or business you want to work for and see who works there that may be connected to your family member in some way.
On Facebook, meanwhile, ask if your family can update their statuses to "My daughter or (younger sis) is looking for a part-time summer job. Would love your help!" (Incidentally, I just did this for my 19-year-old brother.)
5. Make a Repeat Performance
More than 60 percent of part-time summer employers last year rehired their employees, and the trend is expected to continue. So if you had a good time at your job last summer, chances are you might get your job back.
Meanwhile - rebound alert! - businesses like local banks, retail stores, amusement parks and vacation resorts, where jobs were scarce last summer, are showing a slight rise in hiring this year. So don't think that just because you got rejected last year you shouldn't try again. You may have better luck this summer.
6. Be Your Own Boss
The down economy offers a great life lesson: when there don't seem to be any opportunities out there, create your own. The recession has sparked a new wave of entrepreneurship, even among the teen set. As a student, there are lots of ways to make money on your own. The trick is to monetize your skills. (Translation: Make money with your talents.)
For example, if you aced algebra, are fluent in a language, or play a musical instrument really well, consider tutoring and teaching lessons to younger kids and fellow classmates in your neighborhood. For this you'll need to create a lesson plan and come up with an hourly rate before marketing yourself. Since parents are known to pay big bucks for professional tutors, you may want to make it more affordable for them, charging around $10 to $12 per hour.
Or if you're crafty and love to make jewelry, pottery or knitwear, showcase and sell your work on sites like Etsy.com or Shopify.com. (Note that if you're under 16, you will need to get the help of a parent to use these sites.)
Finally, for beauty and fashion lovers, check out meetmark.com. It's an online direct-selling company (owned by Avon) that gives you all the tools to sell their fashion accessories and makeup, even giving you your own "e-boutique." You can earn up to 30% commission. Again, you have to be at least 16 to register.
More on MoneyWatch:
- Teens: 6 Best Ways to Get a Good Summer Job
- 6 Things You Should Never Do on Twitter or Facebook
- Best Cars for a Teenager