Q. I know I am a helicopter parent, and it may be too early, but I want my daughter to get a summer job. She is a college freshman, has completed school activities, but has never had a “real” job. So tell me what she needs to do and what I can do to help.
A. Everyone needs help to get a job, and amazingly, now is the time to start thinking about summer jobs as many employers are making plans and decisions for summer staffing early in the year.
There is a lot you can do to help. For starters, you can work with your daughter on her resume. It should be one page and to tell the story of who she is and what she has accomplished so far. If she doesn't have any work experience it should focus on her academic, extra-curricular and community service successes.
Many students have great choices on where they will be looking for summer work however they often forget to include a local address on their resume. If she knows where she will be this summer, whether it's at home with you or in a beach community, she should use the local address and include her cell phone number. Also, encourage her to create a professional outgoing message on her phone for any potential employers who may call.
Next is the summary statement. Rather than an objective, she needs to describe what she has to offer. “Smart, fast learner, friendly, and responsible. Strong writing skills, problem solver and hard worker willing to get the job done. ” Next add special interests, anything that relates to the kind of jobs of interest and technology skills.
Employers are interested In major and minor coursework and grade point average, and all extracurricular activities that can show leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and communication skills. For example, was your daughter on sports team? If yes, then show multiple years and any elected or appointed positions on the team. How about providing tours for students, or tutoring? Which other activities – drama, chorus, model UN, student leadership, newspaper? All volunteer experience should be listed as well.
Many towns have summer jobs programs. With the completed resume ready,she should call or drop in the city hall to ask about opportunities. The right employees may know who else typically hires among local employers. She can also go door-to-door to retail employers to ask about applications. And online applications for larger chains takes plenty of time to complete.
Encourage her to learn the value of a strong network. The resume can be sent to friends with requests to ask their parents to look at the resume. Former high school teachers and administrators make great resources as well. And parents' contacts can come in handy here. You can‘t get your daughter a job, but you can open doors. Through your LinkedIn profile or professional memberships, ask about opportunities for seasonal work and suggest a great potential candidate.
One additional piece of information that employers want to see is broad availability. Typically they look for potential staff that is available earlier in the season and as late as possible. Therefore it's prudent to include availability for jobs and paid internships during the summer. She will be making life easier for hiring managers and herself. Also, offering to train over spring break is a great way to show her willingness to go above and beyond for the position.
It's fabulous that you are eager to help your daughter find employment this summer. Just remember that you can help her develop her materials, and open some doors, but a prospective employer will expect to see her do the leg work to get the position.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.