How to Snag a Summer Job, and Why (It’s More than Money)

Seven tips for landing a summer job, which can provide cash in the short run and important advantages over the long haul.


The summer job outlook is looking up. More employers this year say they plan to hire – many at higher wages than they previously paid.

However, if you want a summer job and haven’t started applying, you’d better get moving.

Three out of four summer jobs will be filled by the end of May, says a hiring report by Snagajob.com, an online job search site specializing in hourly workers. Snagajob interviewed 1,000 people who will hire hourly employees in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries.

Summer employers expect to pay an average of $11.52 an hour, up from last year’s predicted average pay of $10.39, Snagajob job-search coach Kim Costa blogged about the survey results. Seasonal hires will work an average of 27 hours a week.

“It may make sense to apply to multiple jobs if you are looking to log 40 hours per week this summer,” Costa said.

Also, expect stiff competition, she warned, as 85 percent of employers predict they will receive the same or more total job applications than last year.

A 3.4 million summer job deficit is expected this year, says banking giant JP Morgan Chase, which is working on summer youth employment initiatives in 14 cities from Jersey City, New Jersey, to Seattle as part of a broader $250 million program focusing on workforce readiness.

“The importance of early work experience extends well beyond the three months of employment during the summer – these experiences are directly linked to positive short- and long-term outcomes for teens such as higher graduation rates, better future employment prospects and increased earnings later in life,” JP Morgan Chase said.

It’s more difficult to find a job as an adult if you didn’t work during your teen years, studies show.

Last summer, the youth labor force grew by 3 million, or 14.5 percent, to a total of 23.4 million in July, typically the annual summertime peak in youth employment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The number of employed young people increased by 2.1 million to 20.1 million.

More than 1 in 4 were employed in the hospitality industry, the single largest sector for youth employment. Rounding out the top five sectors in order were retail trade, education and health services, professional and business services, and manufacturing.

Paid jobs allow you to earn money, which can help you learn how to budget and save for future goals or expenses BLS adds.

Tips for landing a job

  • Social media manners: 56 percent of employers say they might peek at candidates’ social media activity before offering jobs, up from 42 percent a year ago, Costa said. “We recommend the ‘mom’ rule – if you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, don’t put it up there.” Michael Carter, director of college counseling, said in a BLS blog, “Make sure that what you put out there for the world to see is how you want to be seen.”
  • What matters most: Employers rated a positive attitude as the top characteristic they seek in a summer worker, followed by schedule flexibility, commitment to work the whole summer, and previous experience. “Make sure you show the employer how enthusiastic you are about their company and that you have an open schedule they can work around,” Costa said.
  • Summer reruns: Employers expect to fill 35 percent of their summer staff positions with workers they hired last summer. While that leaves plenty of opportunities for new workers, where you worked last summer is a good place to start your search.
  • Career centers calling: Employers looking for interns post job openings at college career centers and work closely with career counselors, Michelle Perry Higgins, financial planner and principal at California Financial Advisors, said in a Houston Chronicle post. Career counselors can also tell you when employers are coming to campus or when workshops are scheduled on job interviews, résumés or workplace etiquette.
  • Job fairs: Many government agencies and private employers who regularly hire summer workers hold job fairs, especially during spring breaks. Some are still ahead. For example, Water Country Water Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, touts a flexible work schedule, great pay and the opportunity to make tons of new friends through positions it will offer at a job fair on April 18. Search online for summer job fairs in your area.
  • It’s not too late: While job fairs are over for some seasonal attractions, many are still looking for workers. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for example, employs 2,500 workers, some as young as 14, to run games, operate rides, sell merchandise and feed guests. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, posts openings for seasonal workers for attractions, custodial, merchandise and quick foods jobs starting at $9 an hour.
  • Youth works: States and cities often have summer youth-employment programs targeting disadvantaged kids. For example, YouthWorks is a state-funded employment program for young people 14 to 21 living in low-income communities across Massachusetts. Pittsburgh’s workforce development program, Learn and Earn, expanded this year to offer internships to 2,000 youths in the city and in Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

What’s your experience with summer jobs? Share in our comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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