I recently turned 16 and it is almost summer. I am new to the whole job hunting thing.

I understand that you are supposed to apply to multiple jobs. My questions are:

  • What if I get multiple job offers?
  • What if I accept one job but get a better job offer?

Again, I am not sure what is expected. I want to do what is acceptable in the work world.

  • When I was 16ish, I went in, filled out a job app, talked to the manager(usually right then) and was asked to start on Tuesday or told we'll call you (I wasn't getting hired). Being a 16 year old looking for a job is very different from looking for a "professional" job. So apply to the places you want to work at the most, FIRST. Most companies aren't going to spend a lot of time (which means money) to choose EXACTLY the right 16 year old. Their goal is to simply not hire the WRONG 16 year old. 5-10 minutes of talking to you is usually plenty to figure that out. Expect an offer immediately.
    – Dunk
    May 19, 2014 at 22:18
  • 1
    I don't understand the "on hold" for this question. The OP is a 16-year-old asking for advice about a fairly specific aspect (multiple offers) of applying for a first job. There are 6 very reasonable answers, none of which is overly long.
    – MJ6
    May 26, 2014 at 13:46

6 Answers 6


When a person is job-hunting, it is expected that he/she will be putting in applications at multiple places. Usually there is an interview process before you are hired - quite often a phone call to ask some preliminary questions, and then if they think you might be a good fit, they will ask you in to meet with them for an in-person interview.

When you get your first job offer, you need to be realistic about where you are in the hiring process of other companies you have applied to.

  • If no one else has called you for an interview, and you like the job offer that has been made, you should accept it.
  • If you have already been interviewed by another company and are expecting an offer from them very soon, you can tell the company this ("I interviewed with another company this week as well, and I am expecting an offer. Can I have 48 hours to think about this?") Be prepared that they might say, No, they need an immediate answer because they have other candidates. In this case, you have to make a decision. If you like the offer that's been made, generally speaking a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - take the job that's a sure thing instead of waiting for the possibility of a better one that you have yet to catch.
  • Once you have accepted a job offer, it is bad form to renege, however, you are young, and a company that hires 16-year-olds probably has this happen a lot. As you get older and into more professional positions, this should be avoided.

Welcome to the world of work! May you always have three job offers to choose from!

Seriously, in the 21st century (in the USA anyhow) it's really rare to hear back on a job application unless the employer wants to interview you or hire you. An old guy like me finds this quite disturbing: it's a small world and it's not smart to ignore people. But, it's still the reality.

So, apply for plenty of jobs. If you know somebody in the workplace ask their advice on how to apply. If you haven't heard back on an application, you can assume they aren't interested.

A job offer is a conversation, letter, or a phone call that informs you where and when to show up, what you'll be paid, who your supervisor is, and how to contact your supervisor. It also may say other things about the workplace. If you're in the USA it will probably tell you to bring along two kinds of identification so you can fill out an official form called an I-9.

My point is this; you'll know when you have a real job offer. If you're not sure whether it's real, ask. If there's nobody to ask, the offer's not real.

It's fine to have more than one job offer. As somebody else mentioned, it's fine to ask for a day or two to think about an offer before accepting. They aren't going to withdraw the offer if you ask for that, but they may say, "no, we need to know now." In that case, you need to decide.

If it's a summer job, stick with the first job you accepted unless you get offered another one that's solid and pays at least 20% more. Everybody understands moving up from minimum wage to something better.


It depends quite a lot on the situation, which you've left very vague. The following is grossly over-the-top for brick-laying, but towards the lower border of acceptable for, say, jobs in IT.

The most important thing (around here) would be to be honest and open about it.

If you "are supposed to" apply to multiple jobs, employers will be aware that you did this. Upon receiving an offer, reply with a courteous "thank you" and state clearly that you will "sleep over it" or "consult the family". If you're further along in your career, "waiting for other offers" might become viable, but usually not at 16 ...

So let them know that they will get your decision by some clearly defined date and then stick to it. If nothing better comes up, accept the job. If a more attractive option arrives, let the others know as soon as possible so that they can offer the job to somebody else.

As soon as you accept one job, you should notify the other potential employers that you've started work and that you retract your application, so that they can stop investing time in your application.

  • It was vague because I wanted answers before I got into any sort of situation like this. May 17, 2014 at 17:37
  • How do I contact them if you are supposed to apply online? May 17, 2014 at 17:38
  • I would have serious doubts about a potential employer not giving any usable contact information to potential employees. May 17, 2014 at 18:15
  • So I should just send an email to a random address on their website? May 17, 2014 at 18:19
  • No. If you applied and were taken seriously, I'd expect that you'd receive at least some kind of notice that your application has been received. This message should have contact details. Be flexible, adjust to the situation. Don't rely on what some unknown dude tells you on the internet. May 17, 2014 at 19:21

First, you should not be worried about applying for multiple jobs. As a teenager it might seem very imposing & potentially risky to tell one potential employer that you are applying for a job elsewhere, but you are 16. They do not expect you not to do that.

That said, since you will be new to the job market the chances of a potential employer vaguely pressuring you that their company/business is the only choice for you is quite high. You can defuse situations like that by playing it by ear and saying something like, “Let me get back to you tomorrow…”

What if I accept one job but get a better job offer?

If the other offer is better & it fits your needs better, take it. You are not legally bound by the first offer you take. But be sure to be professional and say something like, “Thanks for offering me the position. I really would have liked to work for your company, but I have received another offer that I believe is a better fit for me right now.”

The reality is the fact you “stood up” a job will most likely never come back to harm you in any way. But be professional about it. And if the company is professional as well they then will keep the door open & say, “Okay, that’s fine. We’ll find someone else.”

When I say “keep the door open” if they are polite to you during that response, chances are you can contact them again in the future if you somehow want to work for them & see if they will hire you then.

  • "You are not legally bound by the first offer you take" (assuming by "take" you mean "accept") ... unless you signed something to the contrary or the laws in your country do actually bind you (saying that it doesn't anywhere in the world, under any circumstances, would be a bit presumptuous), not to mention that pulling out after accepting is likely to damage your relationship with them. May 17, 2014 at 22:17

Applying to multiple jobs is fine but your job search and application needs to be tailored for the specific vacancy you are applying for. One thing an employer will dislike is somebody who has applied for multiple jobs and not demonstrated thought and passion in their application. At the end of the day you are trying to showcase your skills and suitability for a role.

When it comes to offers it is normal to have multiple offers. I would recommend that you take time to consider all factors when accepting. You need to consider factors such as role responsibilites, work place culture and team fit as well as salary. The most suitable job and one where you will be happiest is not necessarily the best paying.


At 16, you are applying for jobs that are either "unskilled" labor or pretty close to it. Those jobs tend to require an answer on whether you accept it or not pretty much immediately as they'll likely have a decent list of candidates to pick from. You can certainly ask for a day or two, just be prepared that they are likely not going to give it to you.

Hopefully when you applied you had the luxury to only apply for jobs that you would actually want. If so, then just go ahead and accept the first one that comes in. Honestly any work experience at this point is going to teach you a lot of things so I wouldn't shy away from anything.

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