Job seeking skills are some of the most important concepts to teach high school students.
Whether they’re a freshman looking for their first part-time job or a senior getting ready to join the workforce, every high school student needs to know how to find, apply to, and land a job.
In general, there are 10 job seeking skills that every high school student needs to know:
You can find all of these skills summed up in the infographic below!
So first thing’s first — your students have to know how to find a job before they can earn one.
Finding career opportunities is the first step in getting a new job.
In days past, you used to have to know someone who wanted to hire or comb through a newspaper to hopefully find something that fit your expertise.
Fortunately, today’s students can find job opportunities with a quick Google search.
Showing students how to use search engines like Google and Indeed can give them a big leg-up over other job seekers both now and 30 years in the future.
The biggest job-related search engines students should know include:
You can also discuss networking as a way for students to make and leverage professional connections. That can apply to in-person interactions, professional organizations, online networking (like LinkedIn), and more.
All in all, students have dozens of job seeking resources available to them.
They just need to know what they are!
Once they find a search engine or method that they like, the next step is to research job openings themselves.
Now that your students know how to find jobs, they need to know how to find ones that they want.
Researching different job openings takes time, patience, and a little bit of online finesse.
First, you can start by teaching students about different names for different jobs. After all, jargon and specialized vocabularies can create major hurdles to understanding a job description.
With that in mind, you can define a few of the common words found in today’s job titles to ensure students know what an opportunity actually entails.
A manager is someone who makes decisions for a group of people with a similar skill set, like salespeople, web designers, financial, and more.
Depending on the size of the company, a manager may not perform any duties associated with the people they manage. Instead, they focus on bringing out the best in their department or team.
In general, a manager’s responsibilities often require a mix of interpreting ideas from company executives, figuring out how to make them work, and creating corresponding goals for their team.
An assistant is often someone who performs the non-specialized duties of someone’s specific role.
For example, an architect who is the only licensed individual at her firm may need an assistant to handle scheduling meetings, screening phone calls, or performing a variety of tasks for the office.
Contrary to how assistants are portrayed in film and television, their responsibilities form the bedrock of an organization.
They do the little things that keep a company running every day, whether that’s picking up coffee on the way to the office or ordering lunch for a big client meeting.
An intern is someone who may or may not be paid to perform tasks that frequently aren’t desired by other individuals at a company.
This can still provide an excellent learning experience, though, as interns get to make networking connections, ask individuals about their jobs, and learn about what they want from a career.
In that regard, internships are similar to apprenticeships in that they encourage your students to get their hands dirty and learn something by doing it.
In fact, both interns and apprentices belong to the growing number of American students who express interests in learn-by-doing style education.
Interns will wind up working under a variety of people at a company, essentially “proving their worth” to earn a job at the company with a salary.
Analysts are individuals who know a lot about a certain topic, gather data about it, and make predictions based on that data.
For example, a financial analyst at a company may look at the total amount of expenses a company paid in a year compared to the gross revenue that the company earned.
If the final number of that comparison is positive, then the analyst can report that the company is moving in the right direction.
If the final number is negative, then the analyst can recommend changes for the coming year.
Analysts often have years of experience in a certain field to the point where they probably have a reputation for their work. They may even be considered local experts.
Analysts typically work under a manager in larger companies. They may work directly for an executive in smaller businesses on a local level.
Remote employees are those who perform their job duties from a location separate from the company’s main office.
Sometimes, this could mean individuals work for a company that’s one or two towns away.
Other times, it could mean someone in New York is working for a company in California.
Regardless, these types of jobs require workers to have an Internet connection and a decent understanding of modern technology.
With that said, remote positions can give students an excellent chance to get their foot in the door with a company or job experience in general.
Remote workers may be considered employees of the company, but they may also work as independent contractors. Understanding the differences between those types of employment is key to fulfilling the duties of a remote employee.
These are just five terms that you’ll find in modern job descriptions. But if a student actually wants one of these jobs, they’re going to need a resume.
That means they have to write one first!
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a resume. It's an essential part of every classroom that focuses on career exploration to any degree.
A resume is a showcase of everything your students have done, whether that activity is relevant to the job they want or not.
In high school, students may list extra curriculars or relevant classes. Other students may discuss volunteer positions they filled.
While these may not have much to do with a job they want, they’re outstanding indications of work ethic, drive, and attitude – three qualities in high demand in today’s workforce.
Some students also choose to write an objective statement, or a brief sentence about what they hope their resume accomplishes.
It’s up to you whether you encourage this in the classroom. Some business owners have stated they prefer objective statements, and others don’t place any emphasis on them.
Regardless, students can use a general template to create their first resume.
For some jobs, students may not need a resume. They may only need to fill out an application.
But even if that’s the case, everyone should know how to write a good resume.
By teaching this to high school students, they take a solid step forward in their professional development.
Also, if a student is going to learn to write a resume, they may as well learn to write another key part of job hunting.
A cover letter.
Cover letters are one-page summaries of who a student is, what position they want, and why they think they’re qualified.
Much like an objective statement, not every employer requires (or cares about) a cover letter.
Still, it’s a standard practice for almost all jobs to write one when applying to a position.
Cover letters cause problems for students because they’re counter-intuitive.
No hiring manager wants to receive a cover letter that’s 10 pages long, but no student wants to undersell their accomplishments.
That means they have to strike a balance by hitting the key points that qualify for them a job without listing every little thing they’ve done.
The best advice a student can get is to keep their cover letter to a single page. That’ll force them to write concisely while sticking to the subject at hand.
It’s also worth mentioning that cover letters should be unique for every job. Otherwise, they won’t resonate with the company that’s hiring.
Students should write about how their skills and experiences relate to a company specifically, even if they’re applying to multiple companies in the same industry.
This shows that they’ve researched a company, which hiring managers always like to see.
Once they’re done with a cover letter, they can now apply for the job they want!
The process of applying to a job is pretty uniform from company to company.
Individual companies may have differences or nuances that students have to follow, but on the whole, the application process is simple.
All of these are fairly straight-forward except for #5.
Waiting for someone to reply to your application can feel like an eternity. It’s especially stressful since some hiring managers choose to simply not respond to applications they feel are unqualified.
In other words, students can apply to a job they want and never hear back.
But most of the time, some representative of the company will have the time and decency to reply about moving forward.
If the answer is no, then the student has no choice but to shake off the rejection and try again somewhere else.
It’s easy to become discouraged at this point. In some competitive industries, it can take weeks to hear back from a company, and even then, it could just be a rejection notice.
This is also true for unskilled labor. Because anyone can apply, a position could very well be filled before a student even submits their application.
But when a student gets a positive reply from a company, then it’s time for the next big step.
Accepting a job interview may sound minor, but it’s actually a significant point in the journey of earning a job.
An acceptance message — whether it’s written, typed, or verbal — conveys a student’s attitude and level of professionalism right away.
Formal verbiage, structured responses, and politeness are all key to a strong first impression.
In addition, promptly responding to an interview offer reflects well on a student. It also lets students set a date and time in stone for the actual interview.
In fact, some hiring managers place responsiveness on par with someone’s ability to be on time!
Both of these contribute to an essential part of job seeking skills — succeeding in the interview itself!
Succeeding in an interview is a different challenge for every single person.
For some, interviews are the best parts of the job seeking process. The more friendly, open, and gregarious students may actually enjoy their interviews!
On the other hand, interviews can be a nightmare scenario for other students. Introverts and other quiet types could be terrified of the idea of meeting a room full of strangers and trying to figure out what they want to hear, rather than answering questions honestly.
Regardless of where a student falls on that spectrum, they’ll need some basic skills to really nail an interview.
You can start with a few simple ideas:
These five concepts are all vital to successfully completing a job interview.
Do they have anything to do with a job itself?
But they show attitude, passion, pride, dignity, and kindness, all of which are positive qualities for an employee in any field.
You can take this concept a step further and talk about bad interviews, too.
If a student goes to an interview and it just doesn’t work out (it happens to the best of us), not all is lost!
In fact, students who live through bad interviews have an opportunity to learn great life lessons. They know what they did poorly in that interview. They may even know if a job in the same field is a good or bad choice later.
In other words, they didn’t “fail” the interview. They learned something from it that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.
Enough of those experiences will prime a student to have a successful interview at some point in their lives.
Then, they get to the next step of earning a job.
There are two ways a student can start a job — as a minor or as an adult. We’ll talk about both!
Unless you teach a class of high school seniors, most of your students will start their first jobs as minors.
This has a huge range of implications. Most of these implications are designed to keep minors safe, paid honestly, and treated well while away from their parents.
Minors often need special papers — sometimes called “working papers” — and even doctors’ signatures on documents that say they’re cleared to work.
In that respect, minors have a lot of work to do before their first day of work in order to actually work.
Bank accounts, medical documentation, legal documentation, and sometimes parental consent could all play into a minor’s ability to start working.
Students under the age of 18 need to know that so that they can properly prepare for their first job.
Then, when they’re no longer children in the eyes of the law, they can breathe sighs of relief when they start working as an adult.
Working as an adult still requires legal documentation, but it has fewer regulations pertaining to whether someone can or cannot work.
In general, students just need an available bank account and proof of their ability to work in the United States to get started.
Depending on the company, they may need to jump through some hoops for the company to get all of their paperwork in order.
As long as they get it all together before they get to their first day, they’ve performed one of the last skills they have to master when seeking a job.
The last one sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s just as important as every other job seeking skill on this list.
Leaving a position is a conflicting experience for most people, regardless of where they work.
No employer is perfect, but no employer is all bad either.
That means when someone chooses to leave a job, they’re simultaneously excited about their new opportunity and remorseful that they’re leaving some element of where they currently work.
Even employees who think “it’s just a job” may feel strange about leaving coworkers with whom they forged meaningful connections.
Most importantly, leaving an employer has to be done in a professional, polite, and courteous way.
After all, former employers are the best references for future career opportunities. Former employees make great recommendations for future hires at a company, too.
So what do students need to do to leave a job the right way?
These five steps work tremendously well whenever someone needs to move on from one career opportunity to the next.
Whether that’s in a retail environment, nine-to-five office job, or temporary employment gig, these five actions smooth the transitional phase for the best results for both employer and employee.
So with that in mind, how can you actually teach these skills to high school students?
Do you want to teach these job seeking skills (and then some) to your students?
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