Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at www.news-sentinel.com.
Q.: Karen, I employ a lot of teen summer help in my business, but I am often taken aback and frustrated when the teens come with a list of requests for time off before they even get started in the job. If teens want a job for the summer, they may have to make a few sacrifices. What advice would you give teens so they can have a good job experience and make themselves a value to the employer?
A.: Having a summer of fun and working can be a balance for teens. However, if they want a job, they should make themselves available. The teens and their parents may have to be willing and ready to make some sacrifices. Those sacrifices may mean that a family vacation may need to be postponed until the end of summer just before going back to school. Or it may mean that the teen will have to work odd hours and weekends, foregoing weekends at the lake.
The summer job experience for teens can be a real asset in learning all sorts of life skills. It is also an appealing thing to have on a college resume.
But it is not the employer's job to work around the teen. It is the other way around.
My advice to teens looking and securing a summer job:
•Have a one-sheet resume typed with your contact information and your references. Be sure to ask the person before you list someone to be a reference. List any other job or volunteer experience on the resume. This includes regular baby-sitting.
•Show up well dressed and groomed for a job interview, alone. This is not a group activity with friends.
Boys can wear pressed khaki pants and a clean, pressed shirt, if a coat and tie is not required for the job. If you are applying in a traditional office work environment, I would suggest a shirt and tie and a blazer if you have one. Be sure to check your shoes.
Girls can wear a clean pressed skirt and blouse or top, with a small flat shoe — no flip-flops! Make sure your outfit is not too skimpy or too tight. No cleavage in any direction. Less is more in jewelry.
•Be prepared to offer a good, firm handshake and make eye contact with the people to whom you are speaking.
•No gum chewing.
•Cover visible tattoos and remove body piercing jewelry except for earrings, and be prepared for a no visible tattoo policy.
•Be willing to work odd hours and weekends.
•Let the employer know when you can start and when you need to finish at the end of summer. Be willing to make yourself available until your end date.
•Review employee manuals and follow the guidelines carefully.
•Be early, do more than your share in every direction, and be polite and respectful to co-workers and the public you may encounter.
Many summer jobs can turn into a lot more for teens if they are willing to do the work and learn all they can. Learning something at the entry level and moving up is not a bad thing. It gives one an appreciation of everyone's job. There are no small jobs in any organization.
Karen Hickman is a certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy LLC. Do you have a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll forward it to her.