This is an essay I wrote on the current state of the teenage job market, and the consequences our country might face if we dont give the young people a fair shot at employment.
Teenage Job Market
A lot of things change when you become a teenager, your hormones start going crazy, you start seeing people in a different light, and you start thinking that the world is your oyster. People tell you that you can be whoever you want to be, and do whatever you want to do. At this time you also start to realize that one day you will have to get a job if you want to live your life the way you want, and get the things you want to have. You start to become a consumer. The Legos or Barbie dolls you once wanted are replaced by cars and expensive clothes. The people who used to buy you what you want no longer seem as generous. Finding a job starts to become the only option. But what if there was no chance for someone starting out on the job market?
Getting a job has changed a lot since the internet has become a household name. Gone are the days of walking into a business and asking for an application. Everything is automated and streamlined to the point where you do not actually have to talk to someone until you are hired. Online applications may save the businesses time, but as a result, finding a job is now based on numbers and not character. Teenagers really get overlooked with this system because most of them have no prior work experience and will never be asked in for a face to face interview. Talking to someone in person is how businesses should hire people, not by analyzing a personality test.
Apparently sixty questions is all it takes for someone to find out who you are and what you have done in your life. Personality tests are now a big part of the application process, and they are what will decide if you are a right fit for the job or not. Every job that I applied for made me take one of these tests, and they were almost all the same. They would ask questions about how you handle stressful situations, and if you thought you would work well with others. One of the tests even wanted me to find errors in a clothing display without telling me what an error would be. How are we supposed to answer these questions if they leave out important information or instructions? These personality tests are not and will not ever be a substitute for a interview with an actual person. These tests combined with little or no job experience leads to most teenagers being completely overlooked in the application process.
Teenagers without experience are being ignored because there are millions of other Americans trying to find jobs as well. Unlike teenagers, these Americans have had work experience and are much safer to hire. It just makes since to hire someone who has worked before, and knows what they are doing, instead of hiring an inexperienced teenager. If no one hires the teenagers though then they will never get work experience, and the cycle will continue until they are adults who cannot find a job because they have nothing on their resume.
Hiring teenagers can be risky for businesses. We are new to the job market, and some of us may not be as motivated as others. With a surplus of unemployed Americans out there, businesses don’t need to take chances. If businesses are not willing to give us a chance though, we will lose a great learning experience. A job for a teenager can be motivation or funding for a higher education, or could give them insight into what career they want to pursue. What I am seeing in this job market though is that teenagers are not getting the chance to be hired. We are losing a valuable learning experience that can have a serious effect on our future, and the future of our country. If we want to see this change, then businesses need to start realizing the long term effects of leaving America’s youth unemployed.
Anyone who is unemployed at this time is going to have a hard time finding a job with wages they can live off of. I understand that there are unemployed Americans that have families to support. When thinking about that, employing teenagers does not seem like that big of an issue. There just aren’t enough jobs out there for everyone right now, in fact more and more people are actually losing their jobs, so who cares if America’s youth are unemployed? You can go to school as much as you want, and you can study any subject you want, but none of it will really prepare you for actually working a job. The only thing that will give you experience working is having a job. In twenty years, who do you think will be the primary work force in America? Those teenagers will be, and they aren’t going to be very good at what they do if they have not had prior work experience. Employing teenagers is a way of getting them ready for the rest of their lives as employed Americans.
Teenage unemployment rates “last year [were] the lowest ever recorded since the end of World War II“ (2). I experienced this decline in teenage employment first hand when I tried to get a job last summer and could not find one. I looked for any openings on the internet, and I applied to every one I could. A few weeks went by and I heard nothing. I tried to apply to businesses in my neighborhood in person, but they all told me to apply online, and if they had openings then I would hear from them. After trying for most of the summer to get a job, I gave up. A teenager can go online and apply to as many places as they want, but if they want a real chance of finding a job then they need to know someone who is willing to take a chance on them. I have found that the best way for a teenager to find a job is to ask the people they know, that is the only way I was able to find one.
During my sophomore year of high school I decided I wanted a summer job. Lucky for me, my grandpa needed someone to paint his house, and I was inexpensive labor. He paid me eight hundred dollars when it would have cost him thousands to hire a professional. I knew I was being ripped off, but I would have the money to get the things I wanted, and I figured the experience might help me get a real job someday. As the summer of my junior year approached I realized I wanted another summer job. I lucked out again because the company my mother worked for at the time was looking to hire some part time help. My mom mentioned me at work and before I knew it I had an interview, and I got the job. I ended up doing all of the work no one else wanted to do, but I loved having disposable income. I considered this my first real job, and it was pretty easy when you think of other “first jobs”. The work I did was tedious; staring at a computer the whole time, typing in numbers, but at least it was not manual labor, or working in fast food. That summer was filled with long days, but the satisfaction I felt from earning my own money made up for the loss of free time. Last summer after my attempts to find a job on my own failed, my girlfriend’s brother asked me to work at his catering service. The rest of the summer I worked for him, catering events across Portland. The only way that I was able to find all of these jobs was because of the people I knew, not the experience that I had.
America’s unemployment rate is increasing exponentially year by year. As this is happening, online applications are favoring work experience over someone’s personality. A teenager cannot find a job when numbers are overshadowing who that person really is. If the teenage unemployment rate keeps increasing then America’s future work force is going to be inexperienced and unprepared for the rest of their lives. Businesses need to start hiring people in person instead of making them take an online personality test.
Mclaughlin, Joseph, and Andrew Sum. ”The Steep Decline in Teen Summer Employment
in the U.S., 2000-2010 and the Bleak Outlook for the 2011 Summer Teen Job Market.” National Youth Employment Coalition. Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University., April 2011. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.