Summer Jobs: Get Started Now

Bob Rosner
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Posted: Apr 03, 2012 12:01 AM

Members of the Twitter and texting generation often seem to operate in a just-in-time universe. Wondering what you'll be doing this weekend? No need to plan ahead; just text your friends Saturday afternoon. But this approach won't work in one important area: summer jobs. They're already filling up fast. Which reminds me of Tim Tebow, recently traded to the New York Jets. He accomplished some amazing things for the Denver Broncos last year, but most of them were done at the last possible minute.

You can't afford to try to "Tebow" a job this summer by pulling a fourth-quarter miracle. No, this is a game that will be decided much, much earlier. That's why you need to start right now. Here are the numbers, according to a recent survey by Snagajob.com: By the end of April, 47 percent of summer jobs will be filled; by the end of May, 79 percent.

That's the bad news. The good news? There will be less competition from older, more experienced workers this summer. Salaries will stay about the same as last year, at just under $11 an hour. Here are four strategies to help you get your share of some of that summertime cash.

-- Apply now. More than half of summer jobs are still available, but you have no time to waste. Get your resume together and start filling out applications. If you're on spring break right now, it's understandable that you'd prefer to just enjoy yourself, but you need to start your job hunt immediately if you want to earn money this summer.

-- Be flexible. The survey found that 32 percent of employers value schedule flexibility as their top priority when considering candidates. This is great news for people who lack experience, but for you to get the full benefit out of your flexibility, you need to mention it in your cover letter, on applications and in interviews.

-- Be upbeat. Twenty-nine percent of employers say that a positive attitude is what they're looking for in potential hires. Crank up the smile and be the kind of person that people want to work with. OK, maybe your last job wasn't as positive an experience as you'd like. Put that out of your mind and go into this job search as positively as you can. No one wants to hire Debbie (or Donnie) Downer.

-- Show experience. This might surprise you: Experience was only the third-highest priority among managers hiring for summer jobs. Of course, you should highlight your work experience, but be wary of assuming that what you've done in the past will close the deal for you on a great job. But there is one place where your experience can really help: 65 percent of the hiring managers said that they'd give an edge to someone who has worked for them in the past.

Don't get me wrong -- Tebow proved many of his skeptics wrong as the wins piled up last year. I'd just like to help you to take some of the drama out of your job hunt.

SUMMER JOBS: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

-- Apply now.

-- Be flexible.

-- Be upbeat.

-- Show experience.

LIST OF THE WEEK

From theFIT.com

Workaholics: Does Gender Matter?

-- Most respondents (91 percent) confine their work to five days a week, though almost half (47 percent) claim to work more than eight hours each of those days.

-- 54 percent of women report working nine hours or more a day, compared to 41 percent of men.

-- On vacation, most workers (65 percent) do some amount of work.

-- Women (68 percent) are slightly more willing to work on their vacations than men (62 percent).

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

"I try to do the right thing with money. Save a dollar here and there, clip some coupons. Buy 10 gold chains instead of 20. Four summer homes instead of eight." -- LL Cool J

(Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal bestseller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.)