Pre-COVID your teen might have worked in hospitality or retail; if they are one of the lucky ones, they still do. Or they may be one of the 1000’s of young Australians who have lost their casual job altogether. As their parent, perhaps you thought losing their job was a blessing so they could exclusively focus on school. As a professional career coach, I beg to differ.
I see firsthand that students who juggle a casual job and school demonstrate more confidence when making decisions about their career, less angst about leaving school and are more competitive applicants for university, scholarships, internships and more.
Working improves wellbeing
Research demonstrates that teenagers who participate in a combination of work/school activities rate significantly higher on wellbeing dimensions including “optimism, self-esteem, positive emotions, emotional stability, resilience and self-acceptance”, compared to students who don’t hold a paying job.
For teens who have spent so long remote learning and isolated from their peers, a casual job could be just what the doctor ordered for their mental health and wellbeing.
Just as your child demonstrated resilience and adaptability to complete schooling remotely – these traits (along with flexibility and persistence) are going to be critical for them to successfully enter or re-enter the job market.
A jumpstart on experience
There are currently over 1 million people unemployed in Australia, the vast majority of them with years more work experience than any teen.
On paper, teenagers are most often the weak candidate due to a lack of experience. This is nothing new, however with unemployment levels rising fast, the competition for entry level jobs is only going to get harder.
A teen who starts their work life with a casual job while they are still at school will be better placed to enter the workforce full time than one who doesn’t.
They can start earlier than you think: Our working teens: Minimum working age in Australia by state
Tips to enhance your teen’s employability
Teens should expect automated rejection emails and the sound of crickets when they submit job applications. The good news is there are a few things they can do, with your support, to enhance their employability:
1. Focus on transferrable skills
Think beyond the job they did pre-COVID. Skills are transferable, so encourage your teen to focus on the industries that are hiring (here).
2. Spread the word
Your child should be able to articulate what they can and are prepared to do, and then they need to TELL EVERYONE THEY KNOW. Leverage your own network to help them tap into the “hidden job market“.
Try some of these: 50+ jobs for teens that will benefit them for life
3. Join LinkedIn
Once aged 16, all employable teens should be on LinkedIn. It might not be as cool as Instagram, but it is where the jobs are. Help them to complete their profile and show them how to follow the companies they would love to work for so they never miss an opportunity.
4. Practise interviews
Encourage “interview prep around the dinner table”. As a family, rehearse responses to common interview questions, such as “Tell me about yourself” and “What can you bring to our team?” Make sure your son or daughter has an interview outfit in their wardrobe. Then when they are contacted for an interview at short notice, they will be ready to go.
Finding employment could be the key to your teenagers “Covid-19 Recovery”. Not to mention the start of a gloriously successful career.
Bianca New is a qualified Career Practitioner and Coach who empowers young people to succeed. She is passionate about helping youth find purpose during the pandemic.