February 28, 2008

Starting your summer job search off on the right foot!

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from a student in Toronto asking about summer jobs. He wanted to know how to search for a job and if right now is a good time to search for a position. This post was inspired by the e-mail I sent to him, and therefore, this post was written specifically for the Toronto/Ontario crowd, but many of these tips are applicable to job searches across Canada!

We all have our own reasons for wanting to work during the summer – some do it because it gives them something to do and a chance to earn some money, while others are forced to do find a job to please their parents, and you can't forget those who need a summer job in order to survive and pay for school.

Whatever your reason is, right now is a great time to start looking for a summer job. And just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean that summer hiring isn’t on the minds of hiring managers – in fact, for large corporations and much of the public sector, the bulk of their hiring is done between February and the end of March. This way, staff levels are in place for the May to August period.

With that in mind, here is how I would approach a summer job search:

- As with all other job searches, make a list of the organizations or businesses you would like to work for. At this stage, put down every single place that interest you – do not worry that you don’t have the skills or experiences to work there. After all, this list is just a preliminary one of places you’d like to work at.

- Create an Excel spreadsheet with the list of companies you would like to work for. Use the following headings:
- Organization name, address and phone number
- Hiring manager’s name, position, and direct phone number
- Are they hiring? Yes or No
- Date a resume and cover letter was submitted
- Follow-up notes

- While the spreadsheet idea may seem weird, when I’m looking for a job, I always do this, as I find it helps me stay organized. And it makes me prioritize the jobs I am most interested in and stand the greatest chance of being offered an interview.

- Make sure you have a top-notch resume and cover letter that highlights your best skills and qualifications. See my posts on resumes and cover letter for templates if you are unsure on how to create one.

- Stay positive! It is still relatively early in the job search season, and it is important to remember that not every place is hiring right now, but they might be in a few months. So take down their information in the ‘Follow-up’ section of your spreadsheet. Before long, you’ll have that ideal summer job!

Now if you aren’t sure where to start looking, here are some websites that will have listings of jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities:

- Job Bank (www.jobbank.gc.ca) - Service Canada’s job bank has two parts, a regular side that lists all jobs, and a separate database of student positions. The student job bank is updated beginning in May, once the Service Canada Centres for Youth (SCCY) open. For more information, check out the website, or visit the Youth website (www.youth.gc.ca) for a listing of where the SCCY will be in your area – they are free to use and well worth a visit!

- Job Loft (www.jobloft.com) – My favourite website for retail positions is always listing jobs. If you decide that retail or a restaurant job is what you would like for the summer, periodically check their website as some stores conduct massive hiring fairs or blitzes and you’ll be the first to find out about these on Job Loft.

- FSWEP (Federal Student Work Experience Program) - This website houses the application form that students can fill out if they are interested in working for an agency or department with the Government of Canada. You fill out one form, and it is forwarded to the appropriate hiring manager should your skills and experiences match the ones required for a job opening.

- Summer Job Program (Ontario Government) - This website contains all the information about the Government of Ontario’s Summer Job Program. The Summer Job Program is an excellent initiative that offers youth a chance to work in a wide range of settings, from offices in downtown Toronto to rural campsites in Northern Ontario.

- City of Toronto - This website contains a listing of all the summer employment opportunities with the City of Toronto – again, check the website of your local city, town, or district government. If you are looking for jobs with Parks & Recreation, make sure you select the appropriate link; otherwise, the job board will display more office-type jobs.

- Variety Village (Volunteer, non-profit, NGO) - This is, in my opinion, one of the best websites out there if you are looking for a volunteer or internship position with a variety of non-governmental organizations. They even list paid positions in the non-profit and voluntary sector.

- Plus, check out the websites of businesses that are open just for the summer, like Canada’s Wonderland (www.canadaswonderland.com), Ontario Place (www.ontarioplace.com), and Centre Island (www.centreisland.ca). They typically have online application forms that you can fill out and right now is the start of their main hiring blitz.

Good luck!

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