"Nothing sets up a young person for success in life better than low-wage employment," said Andrew D. Wittman, founder of Get Warrior Tough, a performance training, coaching and consulting company in Greenville, S.C. "Those jobs provide a controlled and low-risk environment to practice problem-solving, conflict resolution, working within a budget and time management."
In addition, said Cohen, such work may show that candidates "understand and appreciate the meaning of customer service and its impact on the bottom line. That they are accountable. It is easy to slide when there is no money involved, [but when you're paid to do a job] you learn an important lesson about how to make the best of a tough situation."
Asking for details about a young applicant's very first jobs can be "an excellent fact-based indicator of their willingness to work, attitude, ability to be a team player and approach to dealing with customers in a stressful environment," Wittman said.
"A job interview is akin to speed dating," he said. "The HR person needs to assess whether or not to enter into a committed relationship with the applicant based on a resume and what the applicant's references say about them."