Landing Your First Job

You’ve babysat. Maybe you have mowed the lawns or shovelled snow to make some extra cash. But now, you are sixteen and want to find your first entry-level job.

I figured I’d shed some light on how I got my first job and where I made my mistakes looking for one. I would like to start off by saying I have never worked as a waitress, so I have no experience in getting a job as one. I only have worked retail, so I can only give tips on how to get a job in that area.

I was eighteen when I got my first job, so that helps a lot. Some companies only hire people who are legal adults. Sometimes this is because there are labour laws for children that limit how many hours they can work. These restrictions can just cause annoying limits when it comes to scheduling their staff; something managers would rather avoid altogether, hence they would rather choose an adult over a minor. Other times, it is simply because of the law. For example, 7-11 sells cigarettes and lottery tickets; a minor cannot sell as well as purchase these items.

So, if you are under 18 and looking for your first job, I highly recommend you search out the minimum age to work at companies before handing in your resumes to them. This will save you a lot of time and you can minimize which companies you should even bother turning your resume in to.

The main thing I want teenagers to understand when it comes to getting their first job is you must be willing to understand that your first job is not going to be your first choice. Or your second. Maybe not even your third. The majority of people start off at McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King or another typical fast food chain.

When I was handing out resumes looking for my first job, I made the mistake by turning in my resume to clothing stores that I liked to shop at. The amount of teenage girls who hand in resumes at stores such as Forever 21, American Eagle and Garage must be endless. Most of these stores also prefer to have people with prior customer service experience. So, the chance of you landing for your first job at your favourite clothing store is slim to none. (Unless of course, you personally know the manager of the store or if you have a friend who works there already that could refer you. Connections are after all, everything.)

The best places for teens to look to for their first jobs should be fast food joints or chain companies with cashier positions. My first job was as a cashier at Superstore. This was not a fun job. Actually, it sucked a ton. Having to stand in the exact same spot for 5 hours; dealing with grumpy old people complaining about the prices of cherries….I don’t have any fond memories to look back on at that place. However, this job taught me the basic ropes of being a cashier, and it gave me a solid year of customer service experience; something most stores considers essential before even looking at the rest of your resume.

TL;DR? Your first job will not be your first choice, and you probably won’t like it, but you need to start off somewhere so you can get that work reference to put on your resume as well as customer service experience. That way, you can move up to more ideal customer service positions.

If you have any tips of your own for getting your first job, be sure to leave them in the comments below!