For young people finding a job is not easy these days. Whether looking for full time employment after high school or just trying to find something for the summer holidays, if you are a teenager with little or no work experience you will need a little help and guidance to successfully navigate your way through today’s competitive and limited job market. 

You will need a good resume and cover letter, you will need to know how to read and understand job ads, how to properly fill out an application and you will need to know how to handle yourself in interviews. 

Before you begin your job search consider the following:

What would you like to do?

What are your interests? What do you like to do? What do you want to do? What are your career aspirations?

Do you like working with children? Do you like cooking? Are you a strong swimmer and like the beach? Are you an avid reader? Are you interested in medicine?

Where would you like to work?

Based on your skill set, personal interests and experience do not just apply to those jobs that are advertised. Do not be afraid to contact places that you would ideally like to work - Museums, Hospitals, Book Stores, Libraries, working with Animals, Lawn and Yard work, Tutoring, Restaurants, Retail, Advertising & Marketing, and Television/Radio etc. If there is a location that you would like to work and you think you have something to offer, go for it.

Where to look?

Exhaust all of your possibilities and contacts – cast your net long and wide. Contact your high school guidance counsellor, the Government HR, check the news outlets, go to online job search web-sites, contact your friends and family and use your social networks as well.

Always have a resume

Regardless if you are planning to work full or part time, you should have a good resume. It does not have to be complicated. Most first time job seekers will not have a lot to put on a resume so keep it simple.

 Having a resume will also show a potential employer that you are serious about your job search and it is a written document with your information for future reference in case you are not initially employed. 

A lot of young people don’t have a resume so this will set you apart from the rest. With your resume you will also need a strong cover letter. 

Take the time to research both documents and put together a winning combination. And don’t forget to include any volunteer work you have done and activities you are involved in.

Look and act smart

Appearance matters and before you go to see a potential employer make sure you look employable.  Your clothes should be clean, ironed, neat and tidy. 

No baggy pants, short tight skirts, flip flops or sneakers. Your hair should be clean and neat. Be well groomed from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet and surely be on time or early for interviews.

When you meet with a potential employer:

Stand up straight

Keep eye contact

Be polite and smile

Don’t be afraid to talk and speak clearly (do not use slang)

Be confident, you can do this

Turn your cellphone off

 Have a plan

Make a list of the places where you would like to work. 

Do some research and find out everything you can about the business - what they do, how old the business is, who owns it, what is their mission statement — most businesses will have a web-site where all of this information can be found. 

Find out who you should speak to about employment within the business.

Do not be afraid to go to these businesses and seek employment, even if they have not advertised any jobs. This will show a potential employee that you are ambitious.

If you see a job advertisement and it requires more experience than you currently have, ask yourself, “Can I do this with a little training? Can I do most of what they are looking for?” 

Don’t be afraid to apply for the job you want even if the advertisement seems daunting. You may impress an employer enough to hire and train you.

Don’t forget to follow up — this is another way to demonstrate to a potential employer that you are serious, mature and responsible. Wait about a week and call the business — make sure you speak to the person who will be hiring (do not leave a message).

Lastly, before you start your job search, understand that you may not be successful right away. Do not be discouraged if when you hear ‘NO’. 

When a potential employer tells you that you are unsuccessful in your employment search, thank them for their time and ask them to keep your resume on file in case something comes up in the future.

Do not stop searching if you hear NO often. Be persistent and continue your job search. 

Honey Adams-Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.