Tips for Hiring Teenagers

Teenage clerk taking customers' orders at a tea and coffee shop.

There are many benefits to hiring teenagers. They bring a different perspective, make your team more diverse, and are likely to be motivated and hard-working because there are fewer job opportunities for those new to the job market.

You can also save money. Teenagers often work part-time during the school year or as seasonal employees, meaning you don’t need to pay an annual salary and benefits. If you’re hiring in the United States, the federal government and some state and local governments offer tax credits for companies that hire teenagers.

If you decide to hire teenagers, you can follow these steps to find and successfully hire dependable employees:

  1. Determine your hiring needs
  2. Write your job descriptions
  3. Reach motivated teenagers
  4. Evaluate candidates
  5. Onboard teenage employees

What are the Legal Considerations for Hiring Teenagers?

There are various federal and state child labor laws. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has several child labor laws to be aware of before you start the hiring process. For example, people:

  • 13 and younger: Can babysit, perform, deliver newspapers, and do other at-home work.
  • 14 and 15: Can do non-hazardous, non-manufacturing jobs that are approved by the DOL and can only work specific hours and a maximum number of hours per day.
  • 16 and 17: Can do any job that is deemed non-hazardous by the DOL and work any hours.
  • Under 20 years old: Can be paid less than minimum wage during the first 90 consecutive days of employment, unless your state has different rules, and then must be paid minimum wage in nearly all circumstances.

It can be helpful to have a lawyer review your plans before you kick off the hiring process.

How to Hire Teenagers

These best practices will make your hiring process more effective and efficient.

1. Determine Your Hiring Needs

Start by considering your hiring needs and whether you’re legally permitted to hire teenagers for the role. (When you’re hiring 15-year-olds and 14-year-olds, keep in mind that they can only work DOL-approved jobs.)

After making your list, determine your budget for each role using salary tools to find the market rate in your state. Teenagers may be willing to work for less than adult employees. However, you’ll be poised to attract top talent if you pay the same amount for workers doing the same job.

2. Write Your Job Descriptions

The next step to hiring teenagers is to write job descriptions for each role. Include a compelling introduction to your company, job responsibilities, qualifications, and logistics like the hours and pay. If you’re hiring for non-summer jobs, be sure to specify that you have reserved shifts before and after school and on weekends for students.

Include relevant terms like “teenage jobs,” “teen jobs,” “weekend jobs,” “seasonal work,” “morning shifts,” and “evening shifts” in the title and throughout the job description. You’ll increase the likelihood that teenagers will see your job description when they use job boards and search engines to find work.

3. Reach Motivated Teenagers

Promote your job descriptions by posting them on popular and teenager-specific job boards, as well as on your website. See if local high schools and middle schools have career fairs that you can attend.

It’s helpful to ask for recommendations from your professional network when you’re hiring teenagers because it’s likely people can vouch for smart, reliable, and responsible teenagers who are itching to make money. If you have room in the budget, offer an employee referral bonus to team members who recommend someone who ends up being hired.

You could also share your job postings on the social media platforms teenagers frequently use, like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

4. Evaluate Candidates

When you’re hiring teenagers, they are unlikely to have the exact skills and professional experience you think you need. However, keep in mind that hard-working and reliable teenagers will be able to learn new skills quickly.

As you’re reviewing resumes, consider the transferrable skills candidates gained from their classes, extracurricular activities, and other jobs or internships. For example, they may have strong written communication skills from working for the school newspaper, verbal communication skills from being on the debate team, and interpersonal skills from playing sports.

After narrowing it down to top candidates, schedule a short phone or video interview before or after school. You will get a chance to see their soft skills in action. Since teenagers might not have relevant experience to talk about, it’s helpful to ask behavioral interview questions that require them to talk about times they needed to use similar skills in the past.

For example, you may want to ask:

  • How do you prioritize and manage your time when you work on multiple projects or assignments at once?
  • Tell me about a time you worked with a team. What characteristics make you a good teammate?
  • What are the three most important skills you’ve learned from previous jobs, internships, or extracurriculars?

5. Onboard Teenage Employees

When you’re ready to make a hire, your lawyer may recommend that you send an offer letter for them to sign. Offer letters typically include relevant details like the job title, hours per week, manager, pay, pay schedule, and whether it is an at-will position.

After getting back the signed offer letter, you can plan your orientation program. Start by making introductions, showing them around the workplace, and giving them more context about your company. For example, you could discuss your company’s history, mission, values, team structure, and policies and procedures.

Managers should spend most of the orientation day giving new employees the tools, resources, and instructions they need to be successful. However, the training shouldn’t stop on day one.

Provide Continuous Training and Supervision

Hiring teenagers is not the same as hiring adults who are likely to have years of work experience. It’s beneficial to provide hard and soft skill trainings on everything from customer service best practices to workplace communication.

Encourage managers to have one-on-one meetings to give feedback, set goals, and answer questions. If your workplace has a shift schedule, you may want to make sure there is always a more-senior person on shift to oversee younger employees.

Hire Talented Teenagers Quickly

You can consider this “Hiring Teenagers 101.” We’ve covered legal considerations and best practices for the entire hiring process, from writing job descriptions to providing ample training. Ready to put it to the test? Create a free job posting on Monster to reach a large selection of motivated teenagers quickly.