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Tips for teens on landing a job

With jobs so hard to find in Western New York, do teenagers even have a place in the local job market? The answer is yes.

There are numerous job openings for teens every summer at local businesses.

NeXt caught up with Darren Beaton, manager at a Tim Hortons in North Tonawanda, to ask what he looks for in potential employees.

“A potential employee is goal-oriented, enthusiastic, reliable, personable, is eager to learn and has a busy schedule with extracurricular activities,” Beaton said. “Teens with busy schedules are committed to their schedule and are well-organized, motivated people.”

Here are some tips for teens on the hunt for a job:

Apply early

The process begins when you decide when you are going to work – just for the summer or year-round. If they haven’t done so already, many teens are considering acquiring a job just for the season. Seasonal jobs are often more competitive than year-round jobs. This means that you need to get moving! You can get ahead by applying as early as possible. Employers tend to receive a large influx of applications for the summertime, so take the initiative to become a part of the earliest batch of applicants. For year-round employment, pay particular attention to “now hiring” signs.

Apply everywhere

Though you might have a specific place in mind, you may have to work at a second-choice job before you can move on to your desired job. It doesn’t hurt to apply for your dream job, but be realistic. Applying everywhere gives you options. Being offered a job at several different places is better than not having a job anywhere.

Mary O’Connor, a junior at Holy Angels Academy, said, “I never thought I’d end up working at Delta Sonic, but it’s a great job – and I like it, so it worked out.”

If you do have options to work at a few different places, think about which job you are more passionate about. This may keep you from hopping from job to job, which can deter future employers because it appears that you cannot hold a steady job. If you can get a job that you love, take it!

Some employers also provide opportunities to change the world in which we live through fundraisers or special fundraising containers located at cash registers. Though the work may be tough, working for a business that gives back will not only give you a paycheck, but it can bring self-satisfaction and peace.

Stand out

After applying at several places, you should just wait for a call – right? Wrong. If you are serious about getting a job, show it. Place a follow-up call to the manager at every place that you apply. This call shows your potential employer that you really want a job, and it will make you stand out.

“Follow-up calls are an indicator of someone who really wants the job, and if done in a friendly, professional manner can definitely move a person to the top of your list,” Beaton said. “They become memorable prospects and stand out from the rest of the pack.”

The interview

One of the biggest deal breakers for employers is when potential employees are late for the interview. If you are late, the employer sees this as an indication of what type of worker you will be. Show your reliability, and show up 15 minutes early.

The interview is your time to shine. Dress nicely. Nice pants and shirt are all that is necessary so you are not too overdressed. If you applied for a job in an office, it would be OK to dress up a little more. Things to bring: resumé, letters of reference, questions so that you sound interested and prepared, and a folder to put everything in. Always do a follow-up call after the interview to thank your interviewer for his or her time and consideration. Remember to shake the interviewer’s hand firmly, look them in the eyes and be relaxed.


Maybe some of you are not considering a typical job. If you are looking into work in the trades, there are opportunities to gain experience without acquiring a job in that trade. Internships are a great way to see what a person in a particular line of work does on a daily basis. These internships can be found through your school or by contacting individuals or businesses that you know in the field of work in which you are interested.

I had an opportunity for an internship at Dessert Deli in Amherst. My mentor, Dan Wickett, stressed how important experience was over schooling for most trades. Through this opportunity, I was able to learn a great deal about baking, business and my future. If you are more concerned about learning than making money at this point in your life, consider an internship.

After you have landed a job or internship, continue to work just as hard to keep the job. Be a standout employee, work hard consistently, and your boss will notice. Even if you do not plan on staying at that job, the work you do now will set the tone for your work ethic throughout life, and will help you gain references.

Rachel Ziarnowski is a senior at Holy Angels Academy.