6 things to look for in seasonal youth employment this summer

Build your dream team

If you need to hire some extra hands this summer to help run your seasonal business, here’s good news: there are plenty of hard-working high school and college students ready to come on board to be part of your youth employment team.

Each year, between April and July, around two million youth ages 16 to 24 flood the summer employment market, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, meeting your youth employment needs can be a chore, and it can be stressful — especially if you need to bring on lots of workers fast.

6 things to look for in seasonal youth employment

Teens and young adults vary in maturity, work ethic and judgment. Some can look the part, but may not be ready for the tasks at hand or the physical demands of a lengthy workday. How can you hire the right young people so your business can thrive? These six tips will help you assemble your summer youth employment dream team.

  1. Look for candidates with experience in your industry.

  2. Be creative when seeking applicants.

  3. Ask targeted interview questions.

  4. Ask for a resume.

  5. Check references.

  6. Offer an end-of-season bonus.

Summer is here — are you ready to up your youth employment for the season? Keep reading for more in-depth advice.

1. Look for candidates with experience in your industry

Young people with experience in your business often make the best job candidates, because they already have the skills you need — and chances are, the commitment to your industry.

To create a winning list of candidates, write a clear job description that focuses on the experience and skills you’re looking for, outlining as much as possible about the job so candidates will know what to expect.

If you’re hiring lifeguards, for example, being certified is a must. Be as specific as possible in your posting, such as: “Seeking Red Cross-certified lifeguards for parties and beach patrol this summer. Applicants must be 16 or older, and be willing to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week, including weekends and holidays. Must be able to lift up to 50 pounds and stand for extended periods of time.”

Be specific about compensation, too. Let potential employees know if they will be paid weekly or biweekly, what else is included (such as meals and tips), and how many hours they can expect to work each week, so they can estimate how much they will make. That information can be motivating!

2. Be creative when seeking applicants

Large online job boards, such as Indeed, are great places to scout for youth employment. Most towns and cities also have closed Facebook groups where local employers can advertise jobs specifically for teens and college-age students in their area who are seeking seasonal work.

But consider local venues, too. Look to recruit youth employment from local high school or college swim teams and other sports teams by contacting the coach or asking the school guidance office if you can post on the school’s job board.

Youth Employment Teenagers

Similarly, if you’re seeking to staff up your plant nursery, contact the guidance office at a local high school about posting positions on the school’s job board, with specifics, such as “agriculture students or gardening enthusiasts welcome.” You can also seek referrals from your current and former employees who might know just the perfect person to bring on board.

Pro tip: If it’s a job that could look good on a resume or potentially lead to something more long term, mention it in your job description!

3. Ask targeted interview questions

To meet your summer youth employment needs, asking specific interview questions can help you create a list of solid job applicants and weed out those who aren’t good candidates.

When meeting with candidates in person, start off by asking: Why do you want to work here? It’s a simple question, but one that many young candidates might not expect. Those who can produce a thoughtful answer, such as: “I’m a good swimmer and I like to help people,” can rise to the top.

Then, dig deeper with problem-solving scenarios.


Ask candidates: What would you do in this situation? Providing specific scenarios related to your business can help you anticipate how candidates might behave in real-life situations and assess their ability to think on their feet. Try asking questions like:

  • What would you do if a customer asked you to carry bags out to her car at closing time?
  • What would you do if a child began screaming for help?
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult situation at home or at school.

Listen for how the situation was resolved. Even with short summer gigs, problems can arise. To meet your seasonal youth employment needs, you want to hire young people who are mature and savvy enough to think on their feet.

4. Ask for a resume

In addition to having youth employment candidates complete a job application, a resume can provide more pertinent information. Bonus points for candidates who bring one to the interview!

Resumes can make your job easier by outlining whatever job experience young candidates have had (if any), as well as their grade point average, their academic and extracurricular activities, their interests, and any relevant work experience they have had, such as babysitting their younger siblings.

That information can say a lot about their potential as an employee. And, just the act of putting together a resume demonstrates organization and professionalism.

Youth Employment Interview

5. Check references

Requiring job applicants to supply two or three references — teachers, former employers, or a family friend — is another important way to vet youth employment candidates. Calling references can verify your hunch about each candidate, and provide new information that may be helpful in the final stages of the selection process.

When checking references, be sure to ask how they know the applicant.


Be positive. State that the applicant seems like an ideal candidate for the job. But, of course, nobody’s perfect and that you’re trying to choose the best people. Then, describe the job and ask open-ended questions, such as: What can you tell me about Sam? We sometimes have difficult customers. How do you think Sam would handle them?

6. Offer an end-of-season bonus

As the season winds down, even the most responsible high school and college students can begin to lose enthusiasm for the job. Warning: They might become more interested in getting organized for going back to school than earning money, especially if they feel they’ve already earned enough to meet their goals.

Pro tip: To keep everyone on task until the end and prevent frustrating gaps in your employee roster, advertise a motivating end-of-season bonus or a discount for those who stick it out.

In conclusion

Hiring youth employment for the summer is a big job. But following these six tips can help you hire the right young people to help the season run smoothly.