Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Karelia Arauz.
The school year has ended and the summer job hunt for many teenagers is on, but with unemployment rates at about 16 percent for people ages 16-24 how can you make your resume stand out?
The job market might be tough, but it’s not hopeless.
We spoke with five employment experts who have advice for students in search of summer jobs.
Highlight classroom experience, especially STEM skills
“The problem is that with many people being out of work, a lot of experienced workers—people with degrees—are working in the jobs that the youth might have qualified for,” says Jacinta Straus, a youth coordinator with the Workforce Florida system.
Straus works with teens and young adults through the Workforce Investment Act, which uses federal funds for training and job placement.
Entry-level jobs in fast food, retail, hotels are tougher to get in this economy. Straus says high school students can give their resumes a competitive edge by playing up math, technology and other skills they’ve learned in class.
“They may get jobs in the retail area, working cash registers,” says Straus. “Maybe they’ve got some computer experience and they could do some general office work.“
Be proactive and focused
Farley Ashby, recruiter and account executive at ASAP Stafﬁng Services says that employers are looking for someone who is proactive.
“Employers want someone involved in extra-curricular activities and who volunteers to show that they take initiative and they don’t sit around and wait for stuff to happen,” says Ashby. “Internships are huge.”
Another important part is being able to highlight your experience. Your resume can’t be all over the place.
“You need to have good grammatical sentences and something that makes sense,” says Ashby. “If something has grammatical errors I automatically move on to the next resume.”
Translate your experience
Nick Alonso Jr., Vice President/COO at CAREERXCHANGE, says the information on your resume has to be relevant to the job you want.
“Having a well composed resume that is conclusive of all the facts and has a clear and deﬁned objective of what you’re looking for is very important,” says Alonso. “Even with professionals you see people who can’t convey their thoughts.”
Students who don’t have much of a job history can make up for that lack of professional experience in other ways.
“What you do to make up for what you don’t have is get involved,” says Alonso. “If you’re involved that means you care. You can do internship programs, educational interactions with the community or work for the family business.”
Six steps to a standout application
Ivan Rapin-Smith is the program director at the Venture Hive and has six useful and creative ways to make a resume stand out:
- Variety. Employers don’t only want to see that you’re smart academically. They want to see that you are involved in other sports and other things.
- Don’t have typos. “That’s deadly, it’s terrible to read a resume with a typo.”
- Include a personalized letter with the resume that describes why you would like to work with the company. Hand writing the cover letter is a bonus. “It’s all about being original—it would definitely stand out.”
- Have a picture and make the effort of having someone take the picture for you. “Not a picture taken from your cell phone, one that shows you went the extra mile.”
- Avoid email addresses with kinky or quirky names. “You have to show employers that you’re ready for a future career, your email address should have your ﬁrst name and last name.”
- Recommendation or testimonial. “I can say this about myself but this is what people are saying about me.”
Rapin-Smith believes that instead of looking for jobs on online classifieds site craigslist teenagers should walk inside a store or ofﬁce and make a presence. Hustle a bit.
“People coming in with a smile and an attitude are more likely to get a job,” says Rapin-Smith.
Be your own boss
Now, we know that the job market for teens is tough right now, but if they’re not getting a job then why not make their own?
“If they’re interested in something as simple as dog walking, baby-sitting, coaching kids in sports or have a creative skill or talent they can easily turn it into a job,” says Horn.
This could be a great way for teenagers to build their resume and in return get the experience.
“By making a job they are also demonstrating the soft skills that a lot of employers are looking for that they might not get at a fast food job, like critical thinking and collaboration,” says Horn.
Good luck and happy job-hunting.