Summer Jobs: Students in Demand Again, But They’d Better Start Now

For the first time in five years students will be competing more against other students than out-of-work adults for summer work, a poll says. Hiring is up, but you need to get started now.

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It’s not too late for kids to land a summer job. But they had better get moving. Unlike the past few years, hiring managers are confident they’ll need summer help and they are filling temporary positions earlier—as in right now, according to a new poll.

Snagajob, an hourly employment network, found that 13% of businesses filled their summer positions in February and another 11% will be finished hiring by the end of March. The real crunch will come in April and May; 79% of all summer jobs will be filled by Memorial Day.

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This is the fastest pace since the financial crisis—and while about the same number of hiring managers say they expect to increase summer payroll, fewer say they plan to cut summer payroll, which is a move in the right direction. The best news for students: After four years of tough competition for summer work from unemployed adults, teens will be competing more against other teens this year, according to the poll. Average pay will remain virtually unchanged at $10.90 an hour. Employers are looking for three key attributes in their summer help:

  • Flexibility This tops the list for the first time. One in three hiring managers say it is critical that summer help be able to work when and wherever they are needed.
  • Positive attitude This one is a staple. Can-do spirit is important in any job interview.
  • Job experience It’s always helpful to have experience but not always necessary. Still, returning employees will fill 65% of summer jobs.

Just because the summer employment picture is loosening up a bit doesn’t mean you can approach the job search casually. Here are some ideas for how to go about finding a summer position:

  • Tap into your network Teachers, friends, family and previous employers can all help. Let them know you are looking.
  • Consider multiple jobs One job is easier to manage than several. But if you can’t get the hours you need in one place cobble together two or three part-time jobs.
  • Be your own boss You don’t have to settle for grass cutting and dog walking, although those are perfectly good options to work for yourself. You can probably make a few bucks helping adults set up a website or their social media profiles.
  • Be professional Approach your search like it’s a full-time job you seek. Dress well. Fix any grammar mistakes. Be careful about what is public on your Facebook wall and don’t use a silly or distracting email address.
  • Have references ready You may not need them. But you should be ready with contact information for three people that will sing your praises, even if only about what a great babysitter you’ve been in the past.

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