How to help your kids get a part-time job


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I'm expecting my kids to work this summer during their school and university holidays.

Working teaches them much more than just the value of money. When it is their own money, they are much more careful about how they spend it and hopefully save part of it.

Summer is an ideal time to land a job. School students have about six weeks off while university students can have three months. But there's plenty of competition for good jobs and it's best to start searching early so they will have more choices.

Ideally you want kids to organise their own work, but if it is their first job parents can play an important role by helping with resumes, organising references and applying for a tax file number (TFN).

A TFN takes a few weeks. Pick up an application form from some newsagents, photocopy identification documents such as a passport, birth certificate or student ID and take the copies and originals to a justice of the peace or police station for certification before sending them to the tax office.

Where to look for work? Word of mouth is often the best place to start, so ask relatives, neighbours, other parents and teachers. My kids' first jobs were babysitting friends' and neighbours' children. Check at the local shops. For teenagers, it is best to find a job close to home, particularly since the part-time work rule changes that now allow shifts for a minimum of 1 and a half hours. Next try the online career sections of retailers and fast food chains. There are plenty of good online job sites.

Kids under 14 can't get a "real job", but there are ways to earn money. Start with extra work around the house, such as washing the car or mowing the lawn. When the neighbours go on holidays, offer to water the garden or feed the pets.

Your kids will find out that working is no bed of roses. Demanding employers can cancel regular shifts, add extra shifts and be unsympathetic about taking time off for study. Often kids are laid off for no reason. If your child finds a reasonable employer who trains them well and takes into account their commitments, make sure he or she values them.

Explain why it is important for kids to be clear with employers about how much they can work and give advance notice about time off for exams. As well as telling employers verbally, send them a text or email outlining problem dates.

If your child has any special talents, go for a job that uses them. For example, a friend's creative daughter who loved flowers approached florists and found a job she loved and kept for a couple of years.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.