While the best time to snag an in-demand, rewarding, well-paying summer job was probably last November or December, the second-best time is right now!
If you haven’t locked down a way to replenish your bank account and learn some new skills after your school year ends, here are four actionable tips that might save you from your inner procrastinator.
1. Be willing to travel
Apply supply and demand principles to your specific job search. If you aren’t willing to leave an area that will soon be teeming with summer student labour, your job application is likely to be one of several dozen that lands on the desk of an HR rep.
Tilt the odds in your favour by expanding your job search to include rural towns, or even opportunities that are well off the beaten path at places like fly-in tourist destinations or secluded tree planting operations. If you’ve never considered leaving urban settings before, you might be shocked to learn how cheap accommodations can be and what sort of wages can be earned if you’re willing to take a bit of a leap outside of your traditional comfort zone.
2. Think outside of your common summer job box
There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking into restaurants or retail outlets and shaking hands until you secure a paycheque for the summer; however, if you want to boost your chance at summer employment, try brainstorming some unconventional alternatives.
There are thousands of government jobs across the country that need adventurous young people to do everything from manage summer camps to guiding museum tours. I even created my own government-funded position at my boxing gym as a summer youth programming coordinator.
If you want to really impress future power players, embrace your inner entrepreneur. Think about what summer-specific services might be missing from your area. There are often fences that need to be painted or houses that need to be watched while their owners are away. You can also take advantage of the global marketplace by going online and marketing your elite writing or digital graphic design skills. If you don’t have those skills yet, then see what freelance skills are in highest demand and learn them – after all you’re a student right?
3. Don’t spam applications with the same résumé and cover letter
When it comes to securing a summer job, quantity does not usually beat quality. With more and more businesses relying on software to shorten applicant lists, or a personal touch to set a candidate apart, simply emailing your generic résumé and template-created cover letter might not cut it. Instead, take a careful look at job applications and make sure to use the industry-specific buzzwords that are mentioned. Take the steps necessary to make sure you get short-listed by paying attention to details, doing a little research on specific companies & positions, and don’t be afraid to actually connect with employers in-person (you’d be surprised how rare that willingness is these days).
4. Beggars can’t be choosers
When embracing your time-limited job search challenge, try to keep in mind that you are competing with thousands of other young and eager post-secondary students. You can be a great candidate and still not get chosen for a particular position simply because someone else got their first, or there was simply such a massive pool to choose from.
If final exams are floating by and interviews still aren’t panning out, don’t be too proud to take a job that isn’t exactly at the top of your personal dream career list. You can always search for additional work opportunities that might be more fulfilling as the summer goes on, or trying to modify your position once you’ve established yourself as an elite employee that is worth listening to.
Panic won’t solve the summer job search problem
With the stress of finals sometimes dominating students’ worlds, trying to find a good summer job can be an unwelcome distraction. Instead of allowing procrastination to continue to control your decision-making process, set some measurable goals for yourself. Think about what real, pragmatic actions you can take tomorrow to increase your job chances. What can you accomplish by the weekend? Two weeks from now, how many applications are you going to commit to sending out? Is there an opportunity to take a study break and head down to a local business in the hopes of expanding your employment network?
Use your network and ask around. Talk to your family members and friends. Maybe they know someone, who knows someone. You can never be sure which opportunity will be the door that opens – or that leads to a path that wasn’t even visible yesterday. Be proactive in chasing down your summer employment and decide that you’re going to be an employee that employers can’t miss out on.