Tips for Teen Summer Job Seekers

As summer break gets underway for most of the nation’s high school and college students, many have already started summer jobs at the mall, day camps, amusement parks and movie theaters.  Those who were unable to secure a job offer may assume it is too late, but nothing could be further from the truth, according to one employment authority.

“We expect summer hiring to improve from last year’s pace, which could mean steady hiring through at least July.  Many employers filling summer positions may have already completed the initial process of interviewing and hiring.  However, some employers may need more workers than expected.  Others may find that the workers they hired were not a good fit.  In any case, summer job seekers should not give up,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which provides job-search training to people who were laid off by their employers.

In April, Challenger forecast that teen employment gains this summer would increase from 2012 levels due to steady improvement throughout the economy, but particularly in lower-skilled, lower-paying hourly wage categories.

Last year, the number of working 16- to 19-year-olds grew by nearly 1.4 million (1,397,000) in May, June and July, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That marked a 29 percent improvement over 2011, when 1,087,000 teens found summer jobs.  In 2010, only 960,000 teenagers were added to payrolls; the fewest since 1949, government data show.

“Last year’s teen summer job market was the strongest since 2007, when a pre-recession economy added nearly 1.7 million 16- to 19-year-olds to employer payrolls.  There is a chance we could reach that level again in 2013; not necessarily because the economy is booming, but because the types of employers that typically seek out teens are doing better,” said Challenger.

“However, even with an improving economy and more teen hiring, competition for jobs will remain fierce.  Right now, there are more than 1.2 million unemployed 16- to 19-year-olds who are looking for work.  There are probably an additional 1.1 to 1.2 million who have stopped looking for work, but still want a job,” said Challenger.

“Of course, then you have the competition from older, more experienced applicants, including retirees who are seeking low-skilled, low-pressure jobs to supplement their retirement income.  It is equally important that they take an active approach as opposed to a passive one that relies mostly on internet job boards,” said Challenger.

“By getting out from behind the computer, young job seekers are likely to uncover opportunities that don’t exist in the digital realm.  Many mom-and-pop stores do not advertise job openings on the Internet.  Nor do most families looking for babysitters, lawnmowers or housecleaners.  Some of the best opportunities for summer work may be for the odd-jobs entrepreneur.

“Use your parents, friends and your friends’ parents as sources for job leads.  Try to meet with hiring managers face-to-face, as opposed to simply dropping off a completed application form with a random clerk at the sales counter,” he added. 

“Furthermore, those who devote a couple of hours a day to the job search will be at a severe disadvantage compared to those who devote eight to 10 hours a day to finding a job.  Some of that time can be spent on Internet job sites, but that should be done primarily at night.  During the day, the majority of one’s time should be spent going from employer to employer and meeting with hiring managers.  This face-to-face contact is critical to a successful job search,” he added.


Search where others are not.  Outdoor jobs involving heavy labor or behind-the-scenes jobs are often not as sought-after by teen job seekers.

Look for odd jobs at odd hours.  ­Offer to work evening and night shifts and to fill in for vacationing employees.  As a job-search strategy, conduct a search for these types of positions during the hours they operate.

Become a door-to-door salesman when selling your skills. ­Do what good salesmen do — start on one block and go from business to business, door to door.  Don’t simply ask for an application.  Take the time to introduce yourself and build some rapport with the hiring manager.

Call relatives.  Young people have not built much of a network; at least, the type of network needed to find a job.  Relatives are often the best source for information on job leads.

Be a job-search ninja.  Wait outside the store or offices of a prospective employer to attempt to intercept a hiring manager upon his or her arrival.

Dress for the part.  Even if you are applying to work on a road crew, show up to all interviews in nice clothes.  You want the interviewer to focus on you and your skills, not on your ripped jeans and paint-splattered t-shirt. 


Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.


About CGC Coaches

The latest workplace news/trends/issues from global outplacement and business coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
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