Tips for Teens: Applying for that First Job

Landing a first job can be difficult for a teen since employers often look for experience when making a hire.

But Hope Keller, workforce consultant for the Idaho Department of Labor’s Orofino office, offered up these tips to make the job search easier for teens.

What resume tips do you have for teens?

Workforce consultant Hope Keller

Workforce consultant Hope Keller

Don’t sell yourself short.  Write down all the activities you are involved in (school, volunteer, sports), as well as “spot” jobs such as babysitting, housecleaning, yard work and family jobs like ranching.

Next, write down all your skills and separate them into two categories “technical” skills and “soft skills” and highlight both. Employers often look for a combination of both.

Don’t overlook your soft skills. For example, if you play sports you learned teamwork, communication, the ability to follow directions and the ability to prioritize and multitask. Sports also teach transferrable technical skills such as physical fitness and hand-eye coordination.


Music and art help develop skills such as a strong eye for detail, the ability to develop and complete projects and other valuable skills such as critical thinking, thinking “outside the box” and fine motor skills used in detailed projects.

Courses such as drafting, woodworking and metal shop demonstrate developed technical skills, an understanding of “processes” and how to follow directions to complete a project. These courses also build an understanding of safety, environmental awareness and teamwork.

Highlight any dual credit classes. Specify in the education section what courses were taken, especially if they are related to the job you seek. Taking these courses can indicate a fast learner, a desire to go above and beyond what may be required and that you are not afraid to challenge yourself. All are excellent qualities for any employee.

How should teens prep for their first interviews?

Think about these questions: What do you hate about job interviews? How do you think you’ll feel sitting in an interview? What’s the one question you just pray they won’t ask you because you never have figured out a good answer? Practice your answers during a mock interview with one of our workforce consultants at your local Labor office.

How do teens prepare for tough interview questions?

Many teens are unsure how to answer interview questions that relate to a.) lack of experience b.) how to address gaps in school/dropping out and working on a GED.

Possible answers for these tough questions include:

Lack of experience

  • “I may lack paid experience, but the skills I developed taught me how to listen carefully, pay attention and follow directions.”
  • “I may lack paid experience but I would like an opportunity to demonstrate I can do this job. If you show me (or tell me) how, I will do it. I am not afraid to take on any challenge.”

Gaps in school / working on GED

  • “I left high school early and came to realize I must complete my education to succeed at any future goals I may have. I am working on my GED now and plan to complete it…….(insert date).”
  • “I left high school early and realized I needed to complete my education before I can move forward with my other goals. I completed my GED and now I plan to…(work/college/training).”

How should teens prepare for their first day on the job?

DO NOT BE LATE! Do NOT take your phones to the workplace! These are biggies for teens. Listen a lot, and do not to be afraid to ask questions. It’s OK to not know everything because the employer knows / expects to do some training. Remember you would not have gotten the job if the employer didn’t think you could do it.