Become a Working Girl: It’s Not as Hard as it Seems!
Da'Naysha Jones, 15
Malisa Balgobin, 16
Have you ever wanted to get a job but not known how to go about it? No need to worry—all of your answers are here. Read on to learn some dos and don'ts of interviews, how to write your own resume, and more. You'll be prepared in no time!
Ever Wished You Had an Expert's Advice About Getting a Job? We Have It Here!
Rosette Martinez, Director of Human Resources for the South End Community Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts, started off ironing her mother's friends' clothes and cleaning their houses. She attended Roxbury Community College because she was undecided on what she wanted to do with her life. Never afraid to ask for help, she ended up with a master's degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University. Teen Voices interviewed Rosette because, as a Director of Human Resources, she interviews job seekers and oversees employees, so she knows a lot about the working environment.
Teen Voices: Are there any major parts that should be on the resume besides your name, phone number, etc.?
Rosette Martinez: It's important to put specialized skills on the resume. For instance, mentioning you're bilingual* is important because a lot of organizations need bilingual employees. In our organization, our front-line staff has to speak English and Spanish because 60 percent of our patients speak only Spanish.
TV: What are some common mistakes that people make on their resumes?
Rosette: Typos, incorrect grammar, not being clear. For example, sometimes there are no spaces in between each section, so it's difficult to read. Typos are a huge problem; people don't review their resumes before they send them out.
TV: How would someone build a strong resume when they don't have much work experience?
Rosette: Include what you have done in the community, any volunteer work, any work in your house or work that you've done for your neighbors or friends. Those are things you want to concentrate on if you don't have a lot of experience. A lot of us don't think of experience as helping other people, but that is experience; that's how you learn and grow, so that should be part of your professional development.
TV: What are some common mistakes that people make while being interviewed?
Rosette: Chewing gum, not making eye contact, swinging back and forth in the chair, tapping your pen: we call these "distracters." People get nervous and fidgety. It's very important for people to be poised.
TV: Do you have any tips for a successful job interview?
Rosette: No matter what job it is, you should dress professionally, smile, and never act like you expect to get the job. Be calm and gracious because you are taking people's time. It's really important to communicate well and present yourself well so that you will impress people; you have less than a second to make a good first impression. You should understand that everything is a process. The job is not given to you, so when people call you in, it's an opportunity.
TV: What do you recommend teens wear during an interview?
Rosette: No jeans; that doesn't show professionalism. Even if it's a job for daycare, you want to present yourself professionally. You don't have to wear a suit, but your outfit has to be professional enough to show people that you are clean-cut and that you care about your appearance. No low-cut shirts, because that doesn't make a good impression.
TV: What are some common questions that are asked during an interview?
Rosette: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are you proud of? What are your major accomplishments? If you're in school, what's your best subject? How do you interact with people? For example, if you have a background in retail, a lot of people focus on customer service. But customer service is not only retail. In my working environment, it is huge because being able to work with people is a big thing.
TV: Is it hard for teens to get jobs without any experience?
Rosette: It depends on what the teen wants. If a teen wants to be a lab tech, sometimes it may be difficult for them to get inside of a laboratory for experience because it's a critical area. But overall, I don't think it's difficult for teens to find jobs; I think the important thing is for teens to recognize that the opportunity is there and even if it's a volunteer job or a summer job, act professionally and take it seriously.
TV: Where should teens look for jobs? Are there any particular websites?
Rosette: Teens often don't notice the Department of Unemployment. Go to your local unemployment office; they have information on where to find jobs, and sometimes there are even jobs there. A lot of people miss out on that because they think of the unemployment office as "I don't have a job," but it's really a resource. But websites are one of the biggest ways to find a job.
TV: What makes a good employee and what doesn't?
Rosette: Someone who's responsible, who can come in and be a team player and not be isolated, makes a good employee. What doesn't make a good employee? A lot of things, such as behavior issues, attitude and attendance issues, gossiping, and having conflict with other people that you work with.
TV: How would an employee improve him or herself in order to move up to a higher position?
Rosette: It's key to demonstrate leadership. Being very responsible is a way that you can demonstrate your ability to move. Follow directions. Be willing to do what it takes to get the job done. You also need communication skills and the ability to help and interact with others. Networking with your colleagues and getting to know people in the organization is number one.
TV: What are your top three tips for teens looking for jobs?
Rosette: My first would be to identify your goal. If you're a teen and you're in high school and you want to be a teacher, then you have to figure out where you should work in order to gain experience. My second is to begin to work with guidance counselors or with resources in the community. Don't be afraid to go and ask a teacher, "How did you get here?" Don't be afraid to network because you're just learning; we all started there. My third is to have a positive attitude.
TV: What was your first job?
Rosette: When I was 14, I ironed clothes for my mother's friends and cleaned their houses. When I was 16 or 17, I worked at an after-school program in Roxbury. I was a receptionist after that, and then a social worker, and grew from there.
* Bilingual: speaking two languages.
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