5 min read
21 September 2023

Ask Our Experts: How youth can find their first jobs

Celine Hong, Outreach Coordinator, Workforce Development

Finding your first job as a youth can be both challenging and rewarding. I remember how hard it was for me to look for my first part-time job during high school while also trying to balance my studies. I was unsure of how to properly highlight my qualifications on a resume to suit a position I was applying for, or how to prepare myself during job interviews.

As a student, learning how to find my first part-time job, or write a resume and cover letter seemed quite intimidating to me. However, it certainly taught me an important lesson – how to get out of your comfort zone and showcase the skills you have to offer to potential employers.

Whether it’s your first time learning how to write a resume and cover letter, or figuring out where you can find work, there are ways you can get ahead in your job search. We asked two of WoodGreen’s job coaches, Sheroni Christian and Hugh Weir, for their top tips to help young people find their first jobs.


1. Start networking


WoodGreen staff person reviews the resume of a young person

Networking can be one of the most effective ways to showcase your talents and skills that make you a valuable candidate in the workplace. Talk with your friends who are already working and ask how they got their first job, or where they found job opportunities. Reach out to family members, too. They may know people who are hiring or have internships and student placement positions available.

If you’re in school, you can also look for ways to get involved and build your professional network and profile. One way is by asking if there are any work-study positions open in your school.

Another great way that can help you get ahead of your job search is by attending job fairs. These events serve as hiring platforms where diverse companies and organizations convene at a single location to showcase their employment opportunities.

Job fairs provide students with an excellent chance to connect with different employers and gain insight into the qualities and skills employers prioritize in prospective candidates.

You can check out WoodGreen’s employment page where you can find more information on attending employment workshops and events, or visit Eventbrite and look for any upcoming job fairs happening near you.

2. Tailor every resume and cover letter to the specific job postings you’re applying for


Young black man holding his resume

Many job postings whether online or in-person require that you submit two documents to potential employers: a resume and, in some cases, a cover letter to complete your job application.

Make sure that you take the time to examine the job posting to determine whether you possess skills or relevant experience that aligns with the requirements of the position.

The key is to customize each resume and cover letter to match the particular job listings you are applying to. You can read more about this through Indeed’s website on “How to Tailor Your Resume To a Job Description,” and “How To Write a Personalized Cover Letter.”

For youth ages 15-29, WoodGreen offers free one-on-one employment counselling with job coaches who can help you with your job search and fine-tune your resume.

WoodGreen additionally provides a range of employment programs tailored for youth who may be facing multiple or complex barriers to education and employment.

3. Prepare for your interviews in advance


Young woman meets with a recruiter during a job interview

In addition to finding your first job, another suggestion is to learn how to prepare for job interviews in advance. Take the time to do research about the company or organization you’re applying for and look at their values, mission statement, and what they do.

Think about your skills and experience and how they set you apart from other candidates. Do mock interviews with friends or family members so you can practice responding to interview questions that are applicable to the position you’ve applied to.

Employers are inclined to be more impressed with individuals who exhibit preparation and confidence and have conducted research to familiarize themselves with the company.

First-time job interviews can be nerve-wracking! Another helpful tip is that after completing your job interview, make sure to evaluate how the interview went and make note of questions you may have had a hard time answering. This will be a good opportunity for you to think of other ways you can respond to tricky interview questions or work on improving your communication skills.

If you’re feeling nervous about preparing for a job interview, check out WoodGreen’s job readiness programs designed for youth, such as Foundations for Youth Success program and the Youth Job Connection program.

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