Teen Volunteer Sally: Tips & Tricks When Applying For Your First Job

Written by Sally, Teen Volunteer
Halifax Public Libraries' Teen Blog is written by and for teens. Discover more posts here.

I know how daunting getting your first job can be. From having the perfect resume to acing an interview, there are so many factors to consider. I just started my first job in retail a few months ago and now have some tips that I think could help anyone going through this process. 

Before you think about getting a job

  • Find out how old you have to be in the particular place that you live. In Nova Scotia, it varies, but there are rules for those under age 14 and separate rules for those between 14 and 16 years of age. 
  • Ask for advice from family members or close friends about their experiences while working. 
  • Figure out what type of job suits you best and the times/days of the week that you are comfortable working, especially if you have to balance school, sports or other activities. 

Resume & cover letter 

When you are building your resume, be sure to include any information regarding your education, skills and volunteer or leadership experience. Clubs or other events that you may have done in school can also be included. Interests, languages spoken and any awards or achievements can also be beneficial to add. Small descriptions of any volunteering or activities listed can be a useful way to discuss how you effectively participated in them. 

Writing a cover letter for a particular job can also be beneficial, usually they are short and to the point. They could state your availability but most importantly, why you want the job and what you will bring to the workplace. 


Be prepared to provide references as it will often be asked of you once you apply for a job. They can sometimes be personal or related to volunteering (or another activity you participated in). Be sure that there is an easy way to contact these references, both for you and for your possible employer. 


Each job or workplace environment will differ but I recommend going in-person to drop off your resume and cover letter if you have one. There may be an application form that they will give you to fill out and bring back to them which could include basic information about you and your availability. When you go to apply, make sure that you are respectful and it is good to ask by yourself (if you want a support person with you, they can always step away while you apply). 


Congratulations you got an interview! Now what’s next? 

Prepare for your interview by doing some research. Sometimes, you will be able to find information that directly pertains to the store or company to which you want to apply. There are many websites with sample interview questions and it is always good to prepare an answer for those and to know some basic information regarding the particular establishment.

It’s also a great idea to have your own questions in mind to ask, such as, “what would I be expected to do during each shift?” Good posture and a clean and professional outfit is also a good idea. Remember to remain calm, the interviewer will understand that this is your first time applying for the job.

General job advice 

  • Make sure to ALWAYS arrive on time and follow the rules of your workplace. 
  • Try your best but know that you can ask for help if you need it. 
  • Be kind and respectful with anyone that you interact with, including your coworkers and the general public. 
  • You can discover more resources and reading lists, frequently updated, on the Library's Business & Careers page.

In conclusion

Any job can be a great learning experience and an excellent way to add to your resume.

Good luck to anyone who is thinking about applying for their first job!

About the writer

My name is Sally, I'm 17 years old and in grade 12. I'm focused on preparing for university and my current favourite hobbies are reading and writing, especially short stories.