I have two teenagers… both were gainfully employed last summer. Which meant I had a summer of bliss. You know what I mean if you have teenagers.
Both did great at their jobs, their bosses loved them, and they were asked to come back this year.
But there were some fails along the way that damaged their candidate experience.
What I’ve realized viewing the job search and employment from the teenagers’ point of view is that the process of getting hired is only a segment of the candidate experience. Sure, it’s important because you want your hires to say yes to the job and show up on Day 1, Day 2, Day 21, etc.
But in minimum wage student employment, you want them to come back. Once you train them, they can be your rockstars if they show up and do the job, well. You want them to have a great experience the whole way through so that they come back, year after year.
Things I’ve picked up from the kids? When you’re young and making minimum wage, any raise for good work is an amazing kick in the a$$. The one kid started as a gate guard at our local pool and then moved into a lifeguard position. You’d think the increase in responsibility would have warranted some kind of pay increase. But she didn’t get one—even though her boss loved her and wrote her a rave review and said she really wished she could give her one. As she looks at re-applying this year, she’s wondering why she should apply to lifeguard if she’s going to make the same as a gate guard? And I can’t really argue with that.
Now the other kid… she did the daycare aide thing. She loved it, had the best time working with the tiny tykes and she’s such a natural. What did she hate? The crap work she was handed. Guess what? In an office, the crap work is a cubicle full of filing. In a daycare? It’s literally crap. And a lot of it. The daycare could’ve saved her if, in the downtime when she would float from room to room, they had given her something constructive to do. Something that added real value to learning how to work there beyond running to the store for more milk.
These are lessons for any employer with teenage employees… pay them. The kick in the a$$ motivates. And, increase responsibility. They like adding value and feeling valued–two easy lessons to keep them happy, engaged and eager to return.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.