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How to Cement Your Summer Job (And Career)

Written by Phaedra Corrente

Why is finding work so tough for young people? It’s because despite their lengthy education, budding scholars often feel like they have no assets or guidance when acquiring meaningful jobs.

Most schools aren’t teaching you how to compete with other applicants, how to ace interviews, or how to maintain a great work ethic post-hire. You might know the entire periodic table or how compound interest works, but nobody has ever guided you through the phases of job acquisition.

Chances are that you’ve been told to do the bare minimum when seeking a job, but the truth is that you need to do so much more to be the type of person that employers want — someone who’s self-starting, passionate, and dependable. Go that extra mile and you’ll be much better equipped to obtain a job both before and after you graduate from school.

About Your Resume 

Ever heard of JobScan? It’ll scan your resume and show you how well it matches up with a job description. You have to pay for unlimited scans, but there’s a free version as well that you should definitely take advantage of.

Why do you need that? Because resume scanners and databases are going to categorize you based on keywords, so in many cases, employers will only pick your resume out of the pile if you’re a good match with their description.

A resume isn’t the end-all be-all, but it is the important first step. Given the saturation of “good” resumes that employers see every day (and it’s hundreds), you really need to make yours stand out both content-wise and visually if you want a competitive edge.

Should you get an actual pair of human eyes looking over your resume, they’re going to be looking past your skills and trying to determine if you’re the right fit. If you’re short on work experience highlight your volunteer experience (if you don’t have any, get some).  If you held down a part time job during school, put that on your resume, it shows hard work and dedication. Even include if you were on a sports team — employers are looking for competitive candidates.

If you need inspiration for making your resume visually appealing, you can check out some templates here and here. You don’t need to be a professional graphic designer, but show that you care and take pride in what you put your name to.

Also consider bolstering your resume with an online portfolio. You don’t need to be a web designer these days to learn how to curate your work through WordPress or Squarespace. If you can set up a Facebook account, you can totally set up a WordPress site.

Get Competitive — Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

This is easier said than done, but you should also realize that your competition probably sucks.

Just sending out a bunch of resumes will not land you a job. Sure, you might get lucky, but the reality is as wonderful as your resume might be, it will only be one of hundreds, maybe thousands.

And even if it isn’t, an employer deciding to hire you solely based off your resume would be like deciding to marry somebody solely based off their Instagram account.

An employer deciding to hire you solely based off your resume would be like deciding to marry somebody solely based off their Instagram account.

You need to get out there and actually meet people who are already working for the companies you want to work at. Make them your mentors. Do work for them for free.

How do you meet them? Either get into networking events or track down people via the internet and offer to buy them a coffee. Seriously.

Yes, people are scarier than your computer screen and that’s why your competition will never talk to them. Look at it like conditioning. How much more comfortable would you be in an actual job interview with people you’ve met before and have developed a rapport with? Also look at it from the other side of the desk. Who would you hire? A faceless resume or the hungry go-getter who’s been knocking down your door to work for you?

Be More Interested Than Ever

You’d be surprised how few people follow up on job interviews — expressing their interest and thoughts on the conversation they just had. But more over, your interest in the position can’t stop once you get hired. You should be learning everything you can about your field and what’s going to keep you on the cutting edge.

Nothing makes you more of an asset to your employer than if you’re constantly learning new things, taking on new challenges, and pursuing new skills. You can’t do much of that, though, if you aren’t a curious person.

“Nothing makes you more of an asset to your employer than if you’re constantly learning new things.”

The next time you have a couple free hours on your hands, hit up sites like Khan Academy, No Excuse List, Class Central, and Open Culture to start leaning about whichever topics spark your interest (for free, of course). Apart from scouring the Internet, though, you can pore over books, try new hobbies, talk to new people, visit new places, try new foods, and a million other things to foster your curiosity; in doing so, you’ll improve your levels of intelligence, happiness, and many other things that’ll set you up to be an even more desirable job candidate.

The bottom line is that employers want candidates who will continue to be passionate about their position. If you’re not passionate about the job you’re applying for, then don’t waste your time.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.