There’s a lot of things that I want to do in life. I want to travel, buy the things I want, not to worry as much about spending money. Obviously I cannot do them all at this point because I have limited time and resources, mostly that being money. Luckily, there’s a solution to that particular problem: working. Some of you may be in need or want of a job but have no idea where to begin. I’m no expert but I can tell you what I do know. And first things first — in my experience, it does you well to start with a solid resume. Regardless of the job you apply for, more often than not, you will require a resume in order to nail it down. (Need resume help? Check out this post and this post.)
Once you have your resume lined up, think up a list of places to apply to. If you’re struggling with this, consider checking into places you frequent or places you enjoy spending time in. If you already have a place that you have a connection to, it can be easier to score a job you really care about. When possible, try to create a personal connection with the management or someone who has worked there at some point who is still in good standing. Try thinking of jobs that your friends have had or maybe even have currently. Be careful here though, because it may sound fun to work with friends but it can put a strain on your relationship if they vouch for you to their boss and then you start slacking or if you end up butting heads at work — it can be difficult to remove yourselves from that when you hang out outside of work. Another thing to consider when looking at places is proximity. It can be helpful to either think up places that are nearby or even looking at the surrounding area for businesses near your house. The logic here is that you want something nearby, if possible, in order to save money on gas and also save you time driving to and from work.
Now that you’ve got a list going that is hopefully somewhat lengthy, it’s time to start researching and applying. Start with looking up the website for each place with the keywords “job application” or dig through the website looking for an “application” or “careers” tab. Be prepared that some places are far more open about applications than others and some websites are more updated than others. If there’s an application online, it can make your life easier but this won’t always be the case. In the situation that there is not, you have a few options: choose to not apply there or consider walking in and speaking to the people who work there directly about job openings and applications. This might end up as a better move in the long run in some cases because you showing your face shows true interest. You pursued the job even though the process is outside of the ease of online applications. There’s more of a chance to make a good impression on the management if you show your face and your social skills first hand.
Many applications will ask you questions along the lines of: What is the minimum pay you are looking to receive? What is your availability? List three references we can contact about your experience and character. Make sure you have good references lined up (and ask if it’s okay to use them in advance + give them a heads up before giving their information to anyone). I’d also recommend leaving your availability as open as possible. Do not lie on your application and say you’ll be available when you know you won’t be, though there’s no harm in saying you are available most days and then giving them your calendar with that appointment you have and asking for that night off when your friend is having a going-away party. Also, it might be good to slip in that you are willing to work longer than just the summer, if you will be available longer. If you are away at college and could work over longer breaks, let them know you can work breaks when you are home (which could be helpful to them because if they hire you and then bring you back, they’ll be saving themselves some money in training new people, since you’d already know the basics, so this option could be appealing to them and help you stand out as a candidate).
If they like your application, usually the next step is an interview. (More on interviews here.) This is usually a move to get to know you face to face and make sure you are a good fit for the job. If you nail this interview, the job could be yours. Some jobs are more laid back about their interviews and some are more uptight, so prepare for the worst and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if the interview environment is more relaxed.
As someone in the depths of this process myself, I understand how tiring it can be to apply to a long list of places and wait around for them to respond to you. You have to remember: nothing is personal. If you don’t get that job that you really wanted, that does not mean you have anything less to offer. It simply means that they didn’t see a fit from your application or resume, and perhaps it’s a nudge to work a little harder on your resume, learn a new skill, or spend some time doing mock interviews to help you be more prepared to answer questions on the fly. Sometimes you can follow up if you really want a job. Calculated persistence has the potential to reflect positively on your drive if done well (make sure to be polite when you follow back up and if you can demonstrate additional skills/knowledge/research that would help you succeed in the role, that might be the difference that pushes your candidacy over the top). Though even if you still don’t get the job, that additional effort to follow up might help you the next time with how to better interview and share what you bring to the table.
Yes, the job hunting market is crazy during the summer — there may be many people going for the same jobs so it doesn’t hurt to use your connections or get out of the box a little bit. You just might be surprised by the jobs you come across, and the more obscure you go, the less likely you are to have competition. With that, I’m going to leave you with a good luck and I hope you find a job that is a good fit for you for the summer.