Dear Working Wise: I have been looking for a summer job for the past four weeks with no luck.
Last summer, I felt lucky to find a job as an administrative assistant at a construction company, but they’re not hiring students this summer and it seems like no one else is either. What can I do? — Hire This Student
Dear Hire This Student: Yes, the job market has changed significantly over the past two years. The unemployment rate for young Albertans (15-24) has doubled over the past two years to 15 per cent. Don’t lose hope though, there are still jobs out there — you just have to work a little harder and try a few new techniques.
Write a resume
Get a resume if you don’t already have one. I’m hearing more and more employers, even fast-food restaurants, expect resumes. If you’re not sure how to write a resume, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at www.alis.alberta.ca and check out their tip sheets and sample resumes.
If you’d like more help with your resume, visit your nearest Youth Connections office. They provide year-round employment services, including resume consultations, career workshops, and help with your job search. To find the Youth Connections office nearest you, visit http://employment.alberta.ca/youthconnections.
Improve your resume
Show your future boss that you mean business by ensuring your resume looks professional and is free of errors. Ask a parent or someone else you trust to review your resume and make suggestions. You can also use the free e-Resume Review Service on the ALIS website.
Use your network of friends and family to get the message out that you are looking for work. Most jobs are not advertised — networking is a great way to tap into that hidden job market.
Focus on your transferable skills
Most students don’t have that much work experience, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer. Highlight the transferable skills that you’ve gained through school, hobbies, volunteering and life experience. Transferable skills include things like interpersonal, organizational, computer, time management and money-management skills. For more ideas on transferable skills, visit the ALIS website and check out the tip sheets on skills.
Target your search
Don’t just look at job postings. Decide what you want to do and who you want to work for and then go after that job.
Consider your interests, your strengths, and careers you might want to “try out.” Find out who does the hiring and customize your cover letter and resume to that specific person, company and your target job.
Who knows, instead of a summer job, you just might land yourself a stepping stone into your future career. The experience and connections you make will be invaluable once you graduate. And, trying a career first may help you avoid investing a lot of time and money in training for a career you actually don’t enjoy.
Use government services
Visit your nearest Service Canada Centre for Youth (formerly Hire-a-Student) office. There you can get free job-search assistance, including job postings, interview advice, resume building and connections to employers who typically hire summer students.
Job postings are available online at www.jobbank.gc.ca. Service Canada Centres for Youth are open every summer, May through August. For more information and locations, visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca.
Year-round career services for youth are available at 40 Youth Connections sites located throughout the province. To find the Youth Connections office neareast you, visit www.employment.alberta.ca/youthconnections.
Working Wise is compiled by Charles Strachey of Alberta Employment and Immigration (firstname.lastname@example.org) for general information.