We spend years teaching our children how to ride bikes, play nice with others, save their money, even establish credit early on. Preparing them for their transition into the working world is something we need to add to our list. Teenagers are legally able to get a job at age 15 or 16 but employers don’t have a separate process for screening new employees based on age. Roughly 90% of employers will conduct a background check. Helping your child organize his/her life a little can go a long way.

Social media is forever.
That party they went to last year, and the pictures they loaded to Snapchat? Yep, they exist, and now their public domain. Remind them to pay attention to what they are doing, and the pics they and their friends are posting online. Encourage your children to think ahead. Teach them proper internet etiquette. What seems like a little mistake can snowball into years of headaches. Social media and online content are quickly becoming a standard part of background checks.

Driving records do matter.
Does your teen want to earn extra cash with a side hustle while away at college? That DUI they got when they were 16 is on their motor vehicle driving record and could remain there for seven or more years. Even a few minor moving violations can prevent them from working with Uber, Lyft, Prime, DoorDash, etc.

A schoolyard dispute (especially on video) can become a criminal assault or battery, becoming a long-standing conviction in some cases. Get caught using drugs or alcohol at a party? Even minor possession charges can follow them for years. We teach our children the dangers of drugs and alcohol on their health but often forget to educate them on the repercussions of their choices after they graduate. Warn your teens that these mistakes can trickle into so many aspects of their lives. Getting the job they want is a major one.

Keep simple but consistent employment records.
Companies close. Supervisors leave. Employers go out of business. Background checks still want to verify employment for that time period. Teach your teenager to keep a running file of companies they’ve worked for: dates, addresses, supervisor names, phone numbers. This will go a LONG way when employers ask for employment history. It will even help when they have to fill out those lengthy applications!

File and copy tax documents.
Teach your children about maintaining tax filings and W2’s from every job, no matter how short. While the IRS recommends holding onto tax filings for 7 years, future employers may want to verify employment history back ten years. If an old employer happens to have closed, or kept bad records, a W2 or tax filing from nine years ago will be a lifesaver. Teach your children to keep the first and last paystub from each year, along with the W-2. Often times employers change payroll companies and records are difficult to obtain years later. Also, many payroll services have gone digital now. Saving a quick screenshot or PDF can speed up future background checks tremendously.

Teach your teenagers how to help themselves and they’ll thank you (someday) as their often-bumpy paths will be just a bit easier. As a matter of fact, these suggestions aren’t too bad for adults to follow either!



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