Looking for a summer jobHang on to this column!

Straight Talk: Teens 'n' Twenties
By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: My 16-year-old son has started looking for a summer job and is having a tough time. I have a feeling he is not presenting himself well throughout the process. I re-member an article you wrote a few years ago with tips from hiring managers. Could you please run that again? ~ Redding Dad

Dear Dad: With pleasure. These are tips from two general managers of two different popular fast-food chains that hire many teens. I was not allowed to use the names of the chains, but I am grateful for the no-nonsense advice. Notice how neither manager is worried about skills. Instead, they are paying close attention to how you present yourself, how enthusiastic you are and whether you have passion for, in this case, their food (or substitute whatever the company’s product or service is).

The other key is to keep showing your face (as opposed to phone calls or emails). The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so don’t think you are being annoying by stopping back in over and over.

Here is what one manager had to say:

• First impressions are everything. No pants sagging to the knees, no ripped clothes. Present a look I want behind my counter. 

• Don’t make the application look like a 2-year-old filled it out. A lot of you obviously aren’t reading the questions before filling in the answers.

• If this is your first job, don’t leave your past employment blank! Most of you have done babysitting or yard work. Write it down! These are real jobs, too.

• Lots of kids hand me the application and walk off. This will not get you hired. You have to act like you want this job. Get over your embarrassment and say, “Hi, my name is Sonya. I come here as often as I can and such-and-such is my favorite thing to order. I really want to work here!” Your enthusiasm is what I am hiring.

• What bugs me most is when you check back by phone about your application. I get 50 applications a week, so you need to show your face in here once a week and keep telling me, in person, that you want this job. 

And from the other manager:

•  Do you make eye-contact with me? Do you have a positive attitude and up-beat energy? If so, you are one of the people I want to surround myself with.

• We’re tolerant of body jewelry and tattoos, but if they are obtrusive or make people uncomfortable, don’t wear them here.

• I have a 6-inch deep pile of applications on my desk right now. Give it directly to me so I have a face associated with it, otherwise it’s lost in space.

• What do I ask during the interview? I ask, “Do you eat here?” I figure if you are passionate about your favorite item, you will probably be passionate about working here. I also pay close attention when I tell you we wash our own dishes and clean our own toilets. What’s the look on your face now? 

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More from Lauren Forcella

Another column we wrote during the first part of the recession was about earning money if you are under 16 and too young to apply for a regular job. The ideas presented were useful and varied, including babysitting, pet sitting, yard work, tutoring and more. I highly recommend it to anyone at any age who is unable to find regular work. The column is in our website archives of June 24, 2009. You can also find it in our alphabetized “Search by Topic” list under “Work.”