If you are a student or the parent of a student, now is the time to start thinking about summer employment.
Summer employment is about more than just earning a paycheque – it can also present an opportunity to test the waters in your field of interest, gain valuable work experience, network and improve the opportunity to land a job once you’re finished school.
Finding a job takes work but it can pay off now and in the future. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Stay Positive
Many young people express concern about the shortage of available positions and their lack of experience in the workforce. Remember that mindset can influence your outcome. Try to re-frame negative perceptions and turn them into positives. There may be untapped opportunities that you are not aware of, and although you may not have paid work experience, you likely have some kind of experience that would impress an employer, e.g. volunteer, student council, specialized course/s, etc.
2. Think Strategically
The type of job you get this summer can influence the type of job you get in the future. Avoid the outlook that any job will suffice. If you’re not sure where you would like to work, start by thinking about the things that interest you – your favourite subject at school, what you like to do in your spare time and what you are good at. Take a look at summer employment opportunities that might be a good match or try to determine what employers might need help with. Be proactive by approaching an employer who does not have employment opportunities posted. S/he may be impressed with your motivation and critical thinking skills.
3. Set Goals
Determine your objective for gaining summer employment and develop a plan to ensure that your actions match your goals. Structure your job search by developing a weekly agenda to help keep your job search on track. For example, in one week, you may plan to respond to job postings by sending out a minimum of three application packages. During the same week, you might research three companies that you are interested in working for. Don’t forget to balance work with play by setting aside time to enjoy yourself and relax.
4. Seek Out Seasonal Work
Retail, shipping, restaurants, and recreation centres are common sources of seasonal employment. Look for a common thread with your field of interest and make the connection in your application package. If you are interested in working where you shop, you will already be familiar with the company and its products and may benefit from employee discounts. When applying for a position in person, project confidence, dress well and be prepared for an interview. Don’t forget your cover letter and résumé, as well as a pen for filling out application forms.
5. Dig Deeper
Go beyond the traditional sources for finding summer employment. Visit the Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre’s Resource Centre for a list of job search websites or attend the new “Walk on the Webby Side” workshop for an inside scoop on which websites can benefit your job search. Maclean’s Magazine recently offered a list of websites that post new student jobs every week. Check it out here.
6. Do Your Research
Research employers who are hiring and/or employers that you would like to work for. To find out what a company is all about and whether it’s a good fit for you, check out the company website and social media channels associated with it. This kind of research can help you deliver a tailored application package and gain a competitive edge.
7. Customize Your Package
A tailored application package is your opportunity to stand out! It is better to send out ten targeted application packages rather than hundreds of generic résumés. Your package should include a cover letter, résumé and, if applicable, a link to an on-line portfolio. Customize your package by including key words that are referenced in the job posting and tailor your content to emphasize your experience and skills related to the position. Check out the Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre’s new Classified Workshop for more information.
8. Details, Details
Recruiters and HR Managers alike express dissatisfaction when a cover letter is addressed “to whom it may concern”. Do your research and address the cover letter to the correct individual. Have someone reliable review your résumé for feedback and don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar. Be sure to include all relevant and accurate contact information. If you don’t have work references, ask a teacher, coach or other adult in your community.
9. Be Your Own Boss?
If you’re having difficulty finding a job and have thoughts of starting your own business, consider checking in with the Business Advisory Centre of Durham (BACD). The BACD accepts applications for Ontario’s “Summer Company” which can offer up to $3000 start-up funding for successful applicants. Starting your own summer company is a good opportunity to test the waters and find out if entrepreneurship is for you.
10. Clean Yourself Up On-line
Before selecting potential candidates, employers are looking at social media profiles. Red flags may include inappropriate or provocative images; poor communication skills; negative remarks about a previous employer or teacher; or discriminatory comments related to race or gender. Remove anything that might be considered compromising – if anyone has tagged you with posts of this nature, untag yourself.