I just turned 14 this past fall, which means I can legally work a job.

I've applied to several places, fluffing up my resume with everything I think could possibly help me, things showing i'm intelligent such as doing well in Math Competitions, scoring high on SAT subject tests, some experience in retail from volunteering at a community theatre etc. I still haven't gotten a call back from any of the places I applied to and i'm assuming it has to do with my age.

Now, I found an online application form for a nearby retail position that would be ideal to have, and am wondering What can I put on my application to make companies think I am old enough to work with them?

It's been brought to my attention that schedule might be a concern, but after reviewing this website, I found that the hours for 14-15 year olds are pretty lenient during the summer.

Generally, employment hours must not conflict with school hours or impair academic performance. For children younger than 16 years of age, labor must not begin before 7:00am or continue past 7:00pm, except between June 1st and Labor Day when employment hours may extend to 9:00pm. During school weeks, juveniles 14 and 15 years of age may not work more than 3 hours per day or 18 hours in one seven-day period. Non-school working hours must remain under eight per day and 40 per week.

The specific job I'm looking for is a ice-cream scooper, and I think that 40 hours a week would be more than enough time to work regulalry, a large part of why I'm looking at this job is that it's close enough to walk to 5 - 7 minute walk.

  • 6
    While you can work at 14, I believe there are significant limitations on jobs and hours that you can do. Maybe employers just don't want to deal with that
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 15:59
  • Do you think it would be relevant if I summarized what the application asked?
    – U.S. Teen
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 16:23
  • 3
    @U.S.Teen you may want to put your location in the question, as employment laws vary from state to state. The link you provided seems to be for Montana, but you don't actually say that you're in Montana.
    – barbecue
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 16:41
  • See also this question Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 18:12
  • 1
    Before this question, I was convinced you had to be 16 to work in the US (perhaps that varies state by state?) Maybe a lot of employers are misinformed the way I was. You haven't said anything about a "work permit", but that is (or at least was) a thing in Virginia. Perhaps double check the local labor laws and make sure you actually have everything you need to work at 14. After double checking, perhaps put a note somewhere saying, "Eligible to work under code/section/law/regulation number etc." or "work permit holder" or whatever makes sense for your local laws. Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 0:53

7 Answers 7


There is nothing you can do about your age.

It's true that many employers will be reluctant to hire a 14 year old. There are plenty of reasons for that. Not only is there the issue of maturity, but also of your legal capacity. There may be tasks that you are simply not allowed to do on your own. As you know, there are restrictions on working hours which make less flexible as an employee. It's better for the ice cream parlor that they be able to open after 9pm, and that any employee is able to take that shift if necessary.

That's the bad news. The good news is that this is a problem that will fix itself in a couple of years.

By the way there is no obligation to put your age on your resume (though pretty much everyone you apply to is going to make you fill in a form that asks for your age, and you mustn't lie on it.)

Also beware of over-fluffing your resume. Putting absolutely everything you have ever done on there is usually a bad sign. Make everything you say point to a skill that would be an advantage to your employer (and remember that ice cream parlors don't care about your math scores or SAT tests - if you can make change, that's all the math they need).

  • 1
    They don't even need you to make change any more, most of the time. So many card and contactless payments (at least where I live) - I feel like I never see cash anymore. Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 0:51

The specific job i'm looking for is a ice-cream scooper

One thing to note is that a lot of the questions (and answers) on this site concern themselves with folks in different phases of their life and career than you are at, and might not be helpful, and might be harmful, for the job you are looking to get.

What you should be doing, is going to every single ice-cream place in town, walking in a few minutes after they open, asking to speak with the manager, and letting him/her know that you are honest, reliable, hard-working, and people-focused and that you are looking for a job this summer! Jobs like this are mostly found by doing leg work, and leaving a really good first impression.

You resume (as you might need to leave something if the manager isn't there) should list things which reinforce the image of you as honest, reliable, hard-working, and people-focused, and you should be carefully to make sure you don't come across as a "know-it-all": leave off SAT scores and math competition scores - they aren't relevant to the job.

  • Yes. The most important aspects for these types of positions are that employees show up for their scheduled shifts, show up on time, don't steal from the company, and do the work while they are there.
    – John
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 14:32
  • I absolutelly agree with this opinion. At this point, trust, responsability, enthusiasm and willingness to work is the most important things you can put into the table. The resume, if you even need it (you probably don't) is of lesser importance. Also, take the chance to begin a "contacts network" even with people that for one reason or another don't hire you in the end
    – David
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:54

In general, your resume at any age should be clean, concise, and tailored for the job you are applying. Avoid "fluff" that isn't relevant to the job. A short resume that shows an employer exactly what they want to see is better than a long one that makes them dig for the details they care about. At your age, an employer won't be expecting a long resume (if any resume at all) anyway.

In your case, you are applying for a job as an ice cream scooper. Think about what skills that entails and what experience you have that highlights that. An ice cream scooper probably doesn't need a lot of math skill or mastery of academia. That employer just wants someone who will be reliable, work hard, and provide good customer service.

So I would leave out the stuff about math competitions and test scores. That employer won't care. Do include stuff about prior retail and volunteer experience, along with anything else where you had to follow a schedule or work with other people (do you have a good attendance record in school? That would count). That demonstrates you can be depended on and won't cause trouble serving customers. That's what this employer will care about.

Edit: On second thought, the math competition stuff might be relevant if the position also entails handling customer money. The employer will want assurance you can be trusted to make change. If you include that, be sure to word it in a way that makes it clear it mens you are good at basic arithmetic. They don't need someone someone who can do trigonometry, they want to know that you can count accurately.

  • My bachelor's degree was in mathematics, but I am not good at mental arithmetic. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 17:48
  • @PatriciaShanahan, I had math professors in college that were the same way. Brilliant people, could not do addition without a calculator. That's why I qualified including the math competitions only if you can spin it the right way. Being good at math doesn't mean you can easily make change on a $20 for a $5.62 purchase.
    – Seth R
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 18:29

Most employers would know that a resume from somebody of your age may not have too much content.

One thing that perhaps you could do it to write a cover letter to the resume, explaining your qualities and why you should be hired, what the advantages they would have from hiring you.

For example, you can say that you are reliable, attentive to details, committed, etc.

Wish you the best!


Submit your resume online in the morning and then visit the actual storefront the same day (during their off-peak hours).

When they tell you that you need to submit your resume online. Tell them that's what you did in the morning, but that you came by because you wanted them to associate a face with the resume, and then drop off a paper copy of your resume.

If the manager is there and if it's not too busy, you may be interviewed on the spot. Be ready for that. But do not skip any of those steps. For instance, be sure that you submit your resume online first.

And whatever you do, do not bring your parents with you. Don't even have them wait across the street. You'll need their permission, and that's great. But business owners do not want to hire kids with worried parents. So make sure they stay away during your interview phase.

At the same time, don't let a new employer take advantage of you. So in that respect, trust the advice of your parents on that front. They'll be on your side, while your new employer may not necessarily be.

The specific job i'm looking for is a ice-cream scooper

I know someone who did that job and it was one of the toughest job she ever had physically. She had to lift very large containers of ice cream on her own and sometimes, that ice cream was as hard as rock.

On a side-note, even as adults, we rarely get the jobs we want, so be sure to apply to as many places as you can (not just ice cream shops). Amusement parks can be very good too since most of the work available is seasonal and they hire many-many teenagers during the summer.

  • Actually, they don't have an option for an online resume submission, it has to be in person.
    – U.S. Teen
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 23:24
  • And that's fine for that one place and any other place that doesn't have a web site, but hopefully, you're going to follow my advice and apply to as many places as you can (and not just ice cream shops). If you limit yourself to applying to just one or two businesses, then you're likely to get disappointed. Seeking a job is partly a game of chance, you really do have to apply to as many places as you can. Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 19:11

What can I put on my application to make companies think I am old enough to work with them?

Considering they have already mentioned employment clause for 14 or 15 years old on their website, it does not look like they need to be convinced that you are old enough to work with them. They already know it!

Instead you can write about other things which will make you stand out irrespective of age. Some of things can be:

  1. What you love about the job and why you want to do it? I can imagine you can say lot of things on why you would love to scoop ice cream!
  2. What makes you qualify to do this? Something like your sincerity, ability to work hard, etc.
  3. What do you intend to get out of it? Other than cash, experience, fun, etc!
  • Re: "they have already mentioned employment clause for 14 or 15 years old on their website": No, the OP is not looking to work for the owners of that site.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 7:21

Convince them you want the job.

A lot of younger people apply for jobs because their parents made them. Demonstrate, in your application and in person, that you are motivated to get and do the job.

Capitalize the word "I"

I noticed a lot of lower-case "i" words in your question. If you don't want folks to think you are “little” then use the big letter when referring to yourself.

And make sure all your other grammar is proper and formal as well.

Have mature reasons ready you want to work at an ice cream store

Lots of young children love the idea of working at an ice cream store — who wouldn’t? Make sure your stated reasons you want the job make you seem like a sensible, mature young person.

Let them see your face and hear your voice

Almost every chain store these days requires you use their online application app. Do that, but also show up at the store, ask for the manager, and introduce yourself. Try to do this at a time the store will not be busy.

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