It’s that time of year when teens will set out to find that perfect summer job. If you are one of them get your plan in place now. There’s likely to be some competition and you’ll want to be prepared. Consider these tips to kick-start your job search.
Assess your goals
If you have long-term goals, target them. Summer jobs that build on special interests are ideal and provide an insider’s peek into your preferred line of work. They can help to determine if a particular field is right for you. Not everyone knows his or her calling, in fact most teens don’t. But many have been inspired by a summer job. General skills have value too. For example, customer service, cash handling, computer savvy and telephone etiquette all have applications in a variety of work settings. They look good on your résumé and provide talking points in an interview.
If you don’t have a résumé, a simple list with your skills, abilities and accomplishments is a place to start. Not all summer jobs require a résumé but many do. Having one will show initiative and demonstrate you came prepared. It also provides the interviewer with a handy reference. . If you have a limited work history or have never held a paying job, volunteer work and/or extra curricular school activities are fine to list. Were you a member of student council? Did you participate in school sports? Maybe you tutored another student or received a special award. These and other similar activities demonstrate leadership, responsibility and commitment.
If you do have a résumé review it for spelling errors, grammatical correctness and organization. Make sure contact information is updated. Add recent jobs and/or newly acquired skills and accomplishments. Provide specific examples.
Start building a network now. If you have a connection at your desired workplace, ask for a referral. Be sure the person who is speaking on your behalf has a good reputation. If you are hired, live up to their recommendation. If you are in a position to do so down the road, return the favor by helping others.
Read job description details
Study job descriptions carefully to determine how specific skills apply to you. Identify skill matches and provide examples of where and how you’ve demonstrated proficiency in the desired areas.
Apply in person
Go in person to meet the manager but be respectful of their time. Some may be available to talk to you while others may be very busy. Bring your résumé and be prepared to interview, just in case. This means to be neat and clean and dressed appropriately. Do not bring friends. Show enthusiasm, make eye contact and shake hands. Never chew gum. Always thank employers for their time.
Be prepared for the application
Take a fully complete sample application so you will have important information at your fingertips. Names of former employers, dates, telephone numbers and addresses as well as references and contact information are examples of what you’ll need. Keep your “cheat sheet” handy in a pocket or purse. If filling out paper applications, do it neatly and check your spelling.
Bring neatly typed or a hand written list of two or three references. These can include former employers, neighbors and/or friends for whom you’ve performed paid or non-paid work. Babysitting, yard work or pet-sitting are examples. Teachers, scout leaders or coaches can vouch for you as well. Never use Mom or Dad as a reference. Your list should include a first and last name, their relationship to you and contact information.
Anticipate interview questions beforehand and practice your answers with an adult. Ask for feedback. Target your answers to the specific job for which you are applying. Don’t undersell yourself. Boast about your skills and accomplishments but do so with grace and conviction.
Visit a school counselor
Take advantage of school resources. Visit the career center at your school and speak to a counselor about your goals. They can be an advocate as well as a great support.
Every workplace has a culture, some are formal, others not. Tattoos and piercings for example might be acceptable at one establishment but frowned upon at another. Be observant and determine the workplace culture at various job sites. What is standard procedure here? Then remember, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.