When you turn 14 years old in New York State, the window of opportunity opens up for you. You are now legally eligible to work. There are a lot of things that one can do to prepare for that first job. As a youth employment provider, there are three main things that we highly encourage young teens to do before they start filling out job applications. We call it the YES Trifecta. This consists of: a work permit, professional document (resume or skill sheet), and references.
First thing is first. Do you have a work permit? Why is this relevant? This is the first thing we ask teens before discussing where they want to work or what they want to do. The reason for this is, if you apply somewhere, get an interview, then get offered a job all in a short amount of time, you want to be able to accept the position and start as soon as you can. This is not possible if you don’t have your work permit.
Getting a work permit is very simple. Just go to your school nurse and ask for an application for a work permit. Once you get your application, bring it home, fill it out and get it signed by a parent or guardian. Once that is completed, bring the application back to school and submit it to the nurse. The only thing that would prohibit issuance of the work permit is if your physical is not up to date. If the physical is up to date, there should be no problems.
There are two types of work permits. One is (blue) for 14 and 15 year olds and the other (green, which you need to re-apply for when you turn 16) is for 16 and 17 year olds. The reason you need to re-apply is that once you turn 16, you have less work restrictions. Once you turn 18, you no longer need a work permit to be employed.
Do you have a professional document (a resume or a skill sheet)? What does that even mean? A resume is a document that contains your contact information, education, work and/or volunteer experience, clubs and/or activities, and awards and/or special recognitions. If you have not worked, you can make a skill sheet instead. A skill sheet showcases all of the same information but instead of work/volunteer experience, it focuses on the three strongest skills that you have developed up to this point in your life, and how you have developed them.
Why is this relevant? When applying for jobs at 14 and 15 years old, you want to do everything in your power to make yourself stand out more than the next applicant. Most, if not all applications will have an option to upload or attach a resume (or other professional document) to your job application. It is in your best interest to have that professional document prepared and ready to go before you even start applying. This way, you are able to provide one when asked. Also, there is a good chance that if you are up against other 14 and 15 year olds, they may not have one of these created.
The last thing we will touch on is references. What is a reference and who can be one? Why is this important? A reference can be any adult in your life that is not a family member. Teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, past employers, club leaders, etc. Most, if not all job applications will ask for anywhere between one to three references. Employers typically call references as one of the last steps before they decide whether or not they want to hire you. You want to have these prepared and ready to go before you start the application process. The reason for this is that when you get to that point in the application (typically towards the end) you don’t want to have to come up with references on the spot. It is way better to already have them figured out beforehand.
When deciding on your references, there are several things that you want to take into consideration. First thing is that you want to choose people that know you well and can speak highly of your skills and strengths. Next, make sure that you have at least two ways for the employer to contact your references. Typically a phone number and e-mail address are the two best methods of contact to list. Lastly and most importantly, be sure to contact your references before you list them and ask their permission to use them. If they say yes, that’s great! Be sure to let them know where you are applying so they have an idea of who might be reaching out to them.
Once you have checked off all three of these boxes, you are way more prepared to start applying for jobs!
Call or email the YES office for assistance with achieving the YES Trifecta.