First-Time Tips for a Teenage Job Seeker


“I’m 15 years old and trying to find my first job. What’s your advice?” — Kiara from Omaha, NE


Finding a job can be tough at any age, but especially if it’s your first job and you’re a teenager.  The good news is that there are a lot of jobs teenagers can do!  You might work in an airport, babysit, stock bags at a grocery store, and be cashiers. You can also find work at places like Best Buy, Walmart, or McDonalds, or in movie theaters, amusement parks and offices.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

In your job application, you’ll want to highlight your past experience and current skills  that demonstrate your likelihood of being successful in your first job. Consider listing any school groups or church organizations you belong to, as well as work you may have done in your community such as babysitting, delivering newspapers or mowing lawns. If you have received any academic honors or awards, be sure to list those as well.

You should also know that it’s also never too early to start networking — a skill that’s become essential for adult job seekers. Let your family members, teachers, counselors and other adults know that you’re looking for employment. They may know someone who’s hiring, and having them vouch for your skills and abilities can convince an employer to give you a chance.

Legal Restrictions to Keep in Mind

By law, 14 and 15-year-olds are limited to the number of hours and the types of jobs they can work.  Keep in mind that if you are 15 you can only:

  • work during non-school hours
  • work 3 hours in a school day
  • work 18 hours in a school week
  • work 8 hours on a non-school day
  • work 40 hours on a non-school week
  • work hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.)

The types of jobs you can work may also be limited until you’re 16 years of age. As a rule, you’re prohibited from working in occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. You can find a full list of those positions here.

If you’re enrolled in a Work Experience and Career Exploration Program or meet other exemptions, some of the above requirements may be waived for you.  Additionally, in some states like New York and New Jersey, you have to have working papers if you’re under the age of 18.  Working papers are legal documents that tell employers it’s okay for you to work. Learn more about the laws in your state.

For more employment information, check out these resources: