Although individuals of all ages and experience are seeking jobs these days, this post is specifically targeted to high school and college students who are seeking summer employment (or their parents who would like them to find a job). If you're under 15, here's a great post on creating job opportunities for yourself and on do's and don't's for running your own business as a teenager.
If you don't have a summer job yet, you're not alone. Labor department statistics indicate that the teen unemployment rate is 25%. One of the challenges to teen employment is the increasing number of recent college graduates and older workers who are taking jobs in the sectors traditionally left to teenagers. But just because you haven't found a job yet, doesn't mean that it's too late. And the internet could be the start of a successful job search. (Be sure to read the warnings about internet job sites at the end of this post.)
An alert reader recently sent me a link to an interesting website which focuses on easy access to employment applications. While it does contain links which could lead to full-time permanent professional employment, the first area which came to my mind was summer jobs. The site has links to opportunities at amusement parks, fast food restaurants, and temp agencies, common job locations for students on summer breaks.
CoolWorks is one of the best sites for finding interesting seasonal jobs worldwide. In fact, their "help wanted now" section posts opportunities still available at Yellowstone National Park, at a Buddhist center in Sonoma County, and as a sous chef in Mt. Rainier National Park just to name a few.
If you are limited to a specific geographic area because you don't have access to a car or you can't afford to spend a lot of money on gas, be sure to use that location's zip code as the "location" when using a job searching site.
So how do you take advantage of an opportunity you find online? Here are some tips:
1. Consider creating a separate email account for your membership on job boards, etc. This will help you manage any correspondence and ensure that your primary email box doesn't get overwhelmed with advertising or other correspondence which might come from registering at an online site. Read the warning about online job sites below.
2. Most job opportunities start with an application. In some cases you can fill out the application online, but in other cases you will need to fill it out at the physical location of the site where you hope to work. You can make the process much easier if you create a fact sheet that lists all the pertinent information you will likely be asked. You can refer to it for your online applications and carry a hard copy with you to the physical location. That way you'll be able to fill in the specific application form for the company quickly. Here's an example of a typical job application so you'll know what information you need to have available.
3. Follow up quickly. Most online advertisements receive a lot of attention, so make sure your application is received quickly.
4. Resumes are usually optional for most summer jobs (the application substitutes), but if you have one you will appear more professional to the potential employer.
5. Research the basics of finding a job and interviewing. Even if you're just planning to drop off an application, you never know if one of human resources staff might want to speak with you. Investigate and prepare for some basic interview questions. Here's a helpful video and to-do list from The Today Show.
Finally, in addition to your online search, pound the pavement. Go directly to the sites where you would like to work. Find out where the human resources office is and ask if you can complete an application. You can also ask if they are taking applications for any positions. Dress professionally, in line with the position you're seeking. Bear in mind that the more professional the setting, the more formal your clothes need to be. If you're hoping to interview at a bank, a suit is appropriate; even if you're interviewing for a lifeguard position you should still dress nicely.
So give it a try. Even if you searched a few weeks ago, it's worth searching again. Jobs open up all the time, but you can't take advantage of opportunities if you don't know about them.
A warning about online job sites:
In general, a job seeker should never have to pay to access job openings because employment sites generally receive their revenue from advertising and from the employers. Beware of any site which charges you a fee for accessing jobs or employment opportunities. Thoroughly check out the site through the Better Business Bureau or do a Google search using the site's name and the word "scam" or "problem."
That said, just because there is a fee doesn't mean that the organization or company isn't legitimate. Fees may be their primary source of income. Make sure you have a full understanding of what you will receive for your money. Avoid signing agreements that give the site the right to automatically bill your credit card each month. In fact, consider using a prepaid credit card with a preset limit for such purposes. That way if an organization tries to charge your card beyond what you have agreed to pay, the funds simply won't be there.