A summer spent flipping burgers or perched in a lifeguard chair has been a teenage rite of passage -- but not for the current young generation.
This year, teen joblessness promises to peak yet again, topping the record of the summer of 2008, when roughly two-thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds were not working, says Joseph McLaughlin, senior research associate of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
The toughest job for millions of young, inexperienced workers will be finding a job.
It's worthwhile to start a summer job hunt using the tactics outlined below even as spring flowers are just starting to bloom, especially because the payoff for finding work stretches beyond August.
Although a stint bagging groceries or busing tables may not seem like a resume enhancer, early work experience correlates with better employment prospects in young adulthood because employers like to hire workers with some experience, says McLaughlin.
"We will have millions of teens who will have never had a job by the time they are age 20," says Renee Ward, founder of Teens4Hire.org, a Huntington Beach, Calif., Web site specializing in teen postings. "I believe if they never have the fulfillment of a job, they'll be frustrated and that becomes perpetuating."
In the nearer term, a lack of summer earnings will cause many students to scramble to cover their share of college expenses. Lots of students will be visiting their college financial aid offices asking for loans, grants or other ways to plug the gap they expected their summer paychecks to fill, says Phil Shreves, director of student financial assistance at the University of Central Missouri.
While millions of job slots are needed, each individual teen needs to find only one opening -- and that's not an impossible task, say experts. Here are tips to help in the search:
1. Start early
"Job searching is all about contacts," says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions, Northampton, Mass. And sufficient lead time is necessary to connect with job possibilities. Parents might ask their own employers about summer positions. Neighbors, friends, and relatives may also provide leads.