by Wendy Brandt, OTR

The progression from teenager into adulthood includes many transitions. One of these new experiences includes having a first job, and a job search begins with the application process. While large corporations tend to offer online applications or job kiosks, many companies still rely on paper applications. For teens transitioning into the workforce, it is critical to know how to properly complete written applications, as well as other paper documents. Being able to complete legible, handwritten information is a necessary skill for some job opportunities.

So, how can help teenagers who are just learning how to fill out a job application and other employment related forms?

1. Preparing basic information: provide your teen a copy of the basic information they will need including personal data, references, work experience, and education history. This information can be stored in a notebook and taken along when applying for jobs. Having easy access to addresses, phone numbers, and email contact information will help with organization and completing the application.

2. Practice the task: There are many sample forms online which can be printed. Job applications along with other practical forms can be collected throughout the community in places such as the library, grocery store’s discount programs, and at the post office for practice. Becoming familiar with these forms can help teens get used to knowing which boxes to check, abbreviations to consider, and how to write in the small spaces provided. For some teens these aspects could be confusing or overwhelming. They can start with simple forms and work up to more complex ones. By practicing and becoming familiar with the required elements of the job application process, the individual can become more proficient, improve their skills and gain confidence when seeking their first job.

3. Applying for the Job: When a teen feels ready to finally apply for a job, he or she may want to ask a potential employer for an application to take with them and complete at home rather than trying to complete the task on-site. Make a few extra copies of the application when they get home in case an error occurs. Have a family member or trusted peer proofread the information and identify any necessary areas of improvement.

Websites that include additional information along with practice forms:

Reference: Life Skills Activities for Students with Special Needs, 2nd Edition, Darlene Mannix, 2009, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.