Getting and Keeping a Job for Teens

Author: Jennie Withers
Lesson Plan:

Title - Helping Teens Find, Get and Keep a Job
By - Jennie Withers
Subjects:  Vocational Education, Technical Writing, Life Skills
Grade Level - 8-12


Hey, Get a Job!, available at
(optional, but it will greatly reduce your research time)
5 50-minute class periods
Day 1:
Students will know the labor laws for teens, where to look for job openings and how to pick up job applications. (Section 1 - Hey, Get a Job!)
    • Copy of the youth labor laws for your sake (If not using the text, pick these up from your local job service, or go to)
    • A collection of applications from businesses that hire teens
    • Handout labor law questions for the students to answer. (Each state differs, but here are some example questions I use.)
      • How much can you work per day during the summer according to labor laws?
      • Name three jobs that you could legally do that you are interested in.
      • You cannot work in a mine, but could you work in a mining company's office doing clerical work?
      • Can driving be a major part of the job for 16 or 17 year old worker?
      • What department do you need to call if you have questions about the legality of jobs for minors?
    • Discuss answers to questions
    • As a class, create a list of ways to find out about openings. Include the local job service if nobody brings it up. Discuss things like newspaper and internet being more for adults. My students usually do not know the job service can help them and they think they have to work in fast food or at grocery stores.
    • Last, talk about picking up applications and the need to be prepared for a computer application. GO ALONE!
    • Pass around the applications you collected so they can see what they ask. Try to include a couple that have questionnaires with them.
Day 2:
Students will know how to fill out a job application.
(Section 2 - Hey, Get a Job takes you through an application.)
    • A blank application
    • An application that is filled out properly on an overhead or computer with projector
    • Go through with the students the parts of an application.
      • Blue or black ink only
      • The difference between none and N/A
      • How to answer questions about military experience, health, questions that will set them apart like extracurricular activities, electives, positions of leadership
      • What constitutes employment history
      • References have to be adults who are able to speak about the student's work ethic. They need name, address, phone number, occupation and the number of years the adult has known them.
      • Application complete with valid references is due the next day.
Day 3:
Students will be prepared for a job interview.
(Section 3 - Hey, Get a Job!) has example questions and interview tips.
    • Sample interview questions
    • This can be done two ways depending on the maturity of the class.
    • Split students into employer and prospective employee and have them interview one another, then come together as a group and discuss the experience.
    • Or choose students and ask them interview questions and discuss the answers as a class.
    • You can also give them interview questions and have them write their answers for a grade. The point is, they know what are possible questions and the kind of answers expected.
All interview questions are really the same question:
Why Should We Hire You?
6.                  Tell me about yourself.
This is an open-ended question often asked to help "break the ice" in the interview.
The important thing to remember is to keep the answer job related.
7.                  Why are you interested in working for this company?
This will show the employer that you have done your "homework." State the positive things you have learned about the company and how they fit with your career goals. This shows the employer that you cared enough about the interview to prepare for it.
8.                  What is your major weakness?
Always turn this into a positive! State a weakness and turn it into a positive by showing how you overcame that weakness. "In the past, it has been difficult for me to accept criticism from my peers. However, I have learned to value and solicit this input and it has improved my job performance." -OR- Discuss a weakness that really isn't a weakness at all. "I tend to over-plan when it comes to large projects."
9.                  Give an example of how you have solved a problem in the past.
It is important to show the process you go through when presented with a problem. State the problem and the steps you followed to reach the solution.
10.              What are your strengths?
This is the time to describe the skills you have identified that will most effectively "market" you as an employee.
11.              How do others describe you?
Another way for the employer to ask this would be, "Tell me how you would fit into this work group?" If you are not comfortable with this question before the interview, call some friends and/or ask people you have worked with how they would describe you.
12.              How do you think you will fit into this operation?
This is the time to express in the job and knowledge of the company. The more you know about the operation the easier this question will be to answer.
13.              If you were hired, what ideas/talents could you contribute to the position or our company?
Another great opportunity for you to sell your skills. By giving examples of past accomplishments, the employer can visualize your contribution to his/her company.
14.              Give an example where you showed leadership and initiative.
Even if you haven't had the title of lead worker, supervisor, or manager, give examples of when you recognize a job needed to be done and you did it. Give an example of when you were able to contribute to a team project. Unless you have lived in a total void you have been part of a team. Teamwork is used in families, community activities, and schools all require teamwork.
15.              Do you have any questions for me?
By asking questions, you again show interest in the job.
Day 4:
Students will know what is expected of them on the job. (Hey, Get a job! Section 6)
    • PowerPoint presentation - comes with Hey, Get a Job! Or teacher’s education
      I can send you a copy or
      there is a publication available through the job service ( titled,
      Job Hunting for Young People, that provides similar information along with examples.
Presentation includes:
    • Technical Skills needed - math, science, technology, problem solving, critical thinking and logic
    • Communication Skills - reading, writing, interpersonal
    • Personal Traits/Attitudes - hard working, dependability, responsible, honesty and integrity, flexibility and willingness, respect - including the definition and examples of harassment, positive attitude, lifelong learner, focus
I make students take notes as we go through the PowerPoint, and then give an open note quiz.
Day 5:
Students will know what skills and attitudes employers want.
    • The local newspaper's want ads.
    • Find 30 words or phrases in the want ads that describe the job skills employers are looking for.
    • Find 30 adjectives describing the type of people employers are looking for.
I have never written a final test for this unit. I've found that this is important information (like Driver's Ed.) for the students, so they learn it. On the last day, I do an exit card. The students write three things they learned on one side, and one question they still have on the other. I take the last day to hand back applications with corrections, discuss common mistakes they made and answer their questions.

I also briefly discuss the hiring packet (Hey, Get a Job! sections 4 and 6). I use one I picked up at Radio Shack.

From a hiring packet, show students the following materials:
    • W-4 forms - Your social security number has to be on the W-4. You need to have it, or you can't be hired.
    • Emergency Contact Sheet
    • Employment Eligibility Form
    • Company Policies
    • Training Materials
    • Rules to be followed, including dress code
    • Harassment Policy
For the most part:
Most employers are admirable when working with teens. These are the bosses who aim to make working a positive, maybe even fun experience for a teen. These are also the employers who schedule and pay their teen-aged employees fairly.
How you can avoid bad employers:
    • Ask questions about scheduling and requirements for promotion during your interview. Ask specifically about school nights, weekends and holidays. Find out specifics about how the employer works around a full-time student's schedule.
    • Ask somebody in the know. If you know anyone who works, or has worked, for the business, ask them about work conditions and how the boss treated them. Places that have a high turn over rate may have it for a reason.
    • Know the labor laws for minors. Employers who will take advantage of teens are notorious for breaking these laws. Most employers will work hard to keep their employees happy because they know happy employees work harder, and they stay.
Don't take advantage of yourself:
    • The point is, don't get wrapped up in the money. You're young and you need to have time for fun. There is plenty of time in your future to be tied down by work.
How to deal with your money smartly:
    • Open a savings account
    • Don't spend money you don't have
    • Take time for you
    • Think in terms of experiences instead of things
Title - Resume Writing for Teens
By - Jennie Withers
Primary subject - other
Secondary subject - Language Arts
Grade Level - 8-12
Hey, Get a Job!, available at    (optional, but helpful)
free resume templates for teens at
2 50- minute class periods
Day 1: 
Objective: Students will know the purpose of a resume, basic rules for writing a resume and begin to create resume of their own. (Section 3 - Hey, Get a Job!)
Language Arts teachers may choose to have students write a resume for a character in a novel or story instead or as a warm-up for students writing their own. For example, what if Beowulf had to apply for a job? What would his resume look like?
·         Examples (both good and bad)
·         A worksheet or questionnaire to get them started on their own resumes
·         List what a resume is used for: getting a job, college applications, scholarship applications, to give to those you would like to write letter of recommendations for you
·         Hand out or project resume examples - discuss which are good and which are not. There are some good ones from teens on on the resume templates link. This should lead into a discussion of the basics of resume writing.
o       Resumes must be typed
o       Print resumes on high quality paper - office supply stores call it resume paper
o       Keep your resume to one page
o       Use a proper format - use a template
o       Write in the active voice - No- I have written..., Yes - I wrote...
o       Focus on these three skills - communication skills, problem solving skills and technical skills - point out to students that even if they have no work experience, they should have skills to put in a resume
o       Pay attention to words - brainstorm a list of words with students to use on resumes. Some examples: assisted, implemented, contributed, organized, planned, trained, supervised, selected, earned, presented, mediated, taught, represented  - they should come up with 25-50 to get the idea of work oriented action words.
o       Tell the truth - that includes exaggeration
o       References - this is often times not on a resume, but they need to understand they will need to have contact information for the standard three references
o       Customize the resume for the purpose - a job resume is going to be different than a resume for a college application.
o       Check, check and double check and then have someone else proof it
·         Create a worksheet or some questions that include things teens can put on a resume. It's a way to get them writing and it is a lot less intimidating than giving them a template and telling them to plug it in. Things to be included:
o       Objective - one sentence that sates why you're sending the resume to them and it's a worthwhile place to plug some positive characteristics.
o       Challenging or workplace oriented classes they've taken in school. Their GPA if it's good.
o       Work experience if they have any. Most recent job, what they did and for whom, list of duties (remind them of the words you brainstormed earlier).
o       Volunteer or community service. Stress the importance of this, particularly if they have little to no work experience. List their title or roll, what they did and for whom, list of duties.
o       Talents or skills they have that would be relevant.
o       Honors and awards (academic, athletic, community)
o       Extra-curricular activities - clubs, associations, activities outside of school, hobbies and interests.
Day 2:
Objective: Students will create professional resume using a template. (free templates that were designed for teens with little to no work experience are at
·         computer and printer
·         resume template
·         Show students the templates available to them. They need to choose the template that works best for them. For example, if they don't have any work experience, they don't want to choose one the highlights work experience. 
·         Students need to copy and paste the chose template into a word document. They can make changes on a web template, but they can't save it.
·         Input the information the wrote in the previous class, print and turn it in.
Note: I go through my students resumes and then they revise and turn back in. The second time I have volunteers from the business community look at them and write on the resume whether they would interview the teen or not. My students love this because it makes the experience more real and more meaningful to them.
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