Each province has its own rules, called employment standards, about when teens can start working. Before you start applying for jobs, check the rules for the province you live in. This way, you know ahead of time if you are allowed to do the job you want, and whether you must follow any specific rules that do not apply to adults.
Know your rights. Wages, overtime, holidays, and many other conditions of work are subject to provincial laws. Using ‘employment standards’ as a keyword, check your provincial government’s website (see sidebar) to find this information.
If you think you would like to have a job, find out what work is available. After researching many types of jobs, you will have a better idea about what you would really enjoy. People you know, your school guidance counsellor, your local newspaper, career fairs, and local youth centres are all good sources of information.
If you know you want a certain position, research it well. Find out whether you meet the requirements and learn about the employer. Displaying interest is one of the best ways to show employers that you are a good candidate.
To apply for most jobs you need a resume, a written outline of your accomplishments and experience. Many guides to resume writing exist. The Government of Canada’s youth site (see sidebar) offers a good one.
If you have the chance, ask someone experienced in evaluating resumes to look yours over. School guidance counsellors can be a great resource.
Always double-check your resume before sending it out to potential employers. Spelling mistakes and punctuation errors are big red flags to employers.
They suggest that you are careless about details and do not care about first impressions. Such mistakes are easy to correct.
Always include the following on your resume.
Other sections can be added to your resume depending on your background, experiences, and the job you want.
Ideally, limit your resume to one page, although it can be longer if you need extra space. It is better to have two clear, well-laid-out pages than one cramped page. However, do not make your resume longer than two pages.
Work can be dangerous. Young workers have a higher risk of on-the-job injuries than more experienced adult workers. Always ask if there are any specific dangers related to your job. If you are uncomfortable, you have the right to ask for instructions on how to protect yourself.
Many things can harm you on the job, and some are not obvious. Even the work environment itself can be harmful. Loud noises can cause hearing problems. Dangerous chemicals can affect health. Working in dusty or dirty places can cause breathing problems. Wherever you work, your employer should tell you about parts of your job that may be dangerous. If not, ask.
Work can be very rewarding. You can make both money and new friends, develop your skills and enjoy new experiences. However, don’t get so involved in your job that you forget about the rest of your life.
School is very important. No matter what you decide to do in your life, education will help. For some, work is much more fun than school. Compared to a job, school may seem boring or difficult. However, this is no reason to give up on your education.
Your education and work experiences will work together to make you a better employee in the future. Your skills will combine what you learn at school and at work. Make sure that the amount of time you devote to work does not affect your studies or work assignments. If you cannot maintain your school marks while you are working, you may need to cut down on work hours.
Family and friends are another big part of life. The relationships you develop with your peers and with members of your family will be among the most important you ever have. Relationships need time and effort to remain strong. Although it can be hard to spend time together when you are busy working, make the effort. Try to set aside part of each day, or even each week, to spend quality time with the important people in your life. They will appreciate it, and the support and encouragement you receive will always be welcome.
Balance in life is essential to staying happy and healthy. Although it can be hard to achieve, it is always worth a try.
Work can be fun and fulfilling. It can enrich your life both now and in the future. Still, remember that working is not always easy. Finding a job can be difficult, and doing one dangerous. Balancing the rest of your life with work is challenging.
Whatever you do, remember that guidance is available. Your parents, your school, and your local community can be great sources of information and support. Do not hesitate to ask. Your first job has the potential to be one of the most exciting and interesting experiences of your entire life.
Have fun and stay safe!
www.gov.mb.ca (search for ‘young workers factsheet’)
www.readyforwork.sk.ca (click on ‘fast facts’ and ‘Are you Ready for Work - Fast Facts About Young Workers’)
British Columbia www.labour.gov.bc.ca/esb/facshts/
www.youth.gc.ca - search ‘resume builder’ or follow the links from the Jobs section.