Only half of students get summer jobs. Be one of them. - Macleans.ca

Only half of students get summer jobs. Be one of them.

Six tips for students hunting for work in 2014

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The average employment rate for Canadian students aged 15 to 24 from May to August this year was just 48.6 per cent, reports Statistics Canada. That’s the same rate as during the 2009 recession and actually slightly higher than in the summer of 2012. So, if you plan to work this summer, you better start looking now. Here are six tips for boosting your chances of earning cash and building skills in summer 2014.

1. Start bugging your friends and family

Many of the best jobs are never advertised. Instead, they go to the boss’ nephew, the young woman who was such a hard worker on his daughter’s soccer team or the client’s go-getter son. So, begin your job hunt by asking friends, family and friends of family if they know anyone who might hire a student like you. See if they’ll forward a job application on your behalf.

2. Head west or north

There’s a lot of competition for summer jobs in university towns so your chances are much better if you’re willing to work somewhere far away from the city. I spent one summer working in the tourism industry in Jasper, Alta. and it was a great place to be. Other options include summer camps, fly-in mining operations and, for those who don’t mind skipping showers for days on end, tree planting.

3. Clean up after yourself online

Young people are wising up to the fact that sexist status updates and Facebook photos of them passed-out drunk can hurt their futures but you might still have some old posts out there that could cause a potential employer to worry. It’s better if you find them first and hit delete. A search engine that works well for finding these forgotten references is Pipl.com.

4. With applications, less is more

Many students don’t realize that they need to target each cover letter to the specific job they’re applying for in order to highlight the skills and experiences most relevant to that job. This takes time, but just remember that it’s smarter to put many hours into a few applications than to blanket mailboxes with generic applications that will be instantly tossed in the garbage can. Here are a few more cover letter tips.

5. Look beyond the same old websites

LinkedIn and Workopolis aren’t the only job websites. There are also many niche sites you’ve probably never heard of like Charity Village and Media Job Search Canada. Here’s a list of 10 such sites. You might also try making a list of companies to target and follow their HR departments on Twitter where they’re likely to announce any open positions and might also be impressed by your social media savvy.

6. Use your high school job as a backup

Consider your high school job flipping burgers or folding clothes as a backup plan because while it’s not going to teach you many new skills it can be a good way to earn money while picking up new skills at a volunteer gig or internship, and future employers may be impressed that you were willing to flip burgers rather than sit at home and play PS4.