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Hunting for a summer job

by Paula Rivas April 3, 2012
Hunting for a summer job

Graphic by Sean Kershaw

School is coming to an end, and the days of tanning and sipping on Long Island iced tea are approaching. For many university students, the end of final exams is the beginning of working full-time to get some money in the bank. But just how accessible is the summer job market for students these days? Which way is the best way to find employment?

TD Bank recruitment manager Anh-Tu Nguyen gave some useful tips on what he looks for in a candidate. First, let’s start with the cover letter and resume. Nguyen said it is best to keep it short and sweet.

“So basically up to two to three paragraphs maximum [for the cover letter], and normally what we like is when it is personalized to the role,” he said. “The company wants to know who you are, but stay away from a generic cover letter.” Nguyen said resumes should be kept to a maximum of two or three pages.

He indicated that using social media to find a job is a great tool, especially since a growing number of jobs are not advertised in newspapers.

“I would recommend LinkedIn, an incredible tool to allow you to connect with businesses and recruiters and by using social media, you let people know you are looking for a job, and reduce the time it takes to find a job,” he said.

A question that pops into many students’ minds is if employers check up on the applicants on Facebook or Twitter. Scared that your potential boss might see your tequila body shots in Cancun and cross you off the list immediately?

“In TD, because of privacy issues, we cannot check any credit or security check on the applicants or check their Facebook or Twitter accounts without authorization. We respect people’s privacy completely,” said Nguyen.

However, this is not always the case, so don’t go making your racy profile pictures public yet. A 2010 Microsoft Research survey found that 70 per cent of recruiters had rejected applicants based on what they had found online.

Madeleine Hajek, a Concordia communications student, said that she has her summer job lined up, which she found on the Service Canada website.

“I applied in March and I got a call back the next week,” she said.

Another Concordia student, Kevin Goodall, studying political science, got his job last summer at the BeaverTails shop at La Ronde through a posting on craigslist. After his summer job ended and he started university, he got hired for the position of operations manager at a BeaverTail location in Westmount, working part-time.

“My summer job helped me get the job I have now since they trust that I gained experience and they know that I am a hard worker and reliable. All in all I think that finding a summer job is pretty easy,” he said.

Just like Goodall’s summer experience proved to be helpful for finding a later job, Nguyen said that summer jobs “are a great opportunity for students to get some training.”

However, not all students were lucky enough to find fast and easy summer employment.

Business management student Jessica Weatherall said that last summer she had a job, but this summer she is not so lucky.

“I have been trying to get into banks because I know that there you get a higher pay, but it feels like banks are only looking for full-time. I applied online around February and still no response,” she said.

The stampede of summer job applications can be quite intimidating. So, what makes a needle in a haystack noticeable?

“For me, it is important in an interview, phone or face-to-face, to be yourself, and to think about the values of the company that you are applying to. Do your research,” said Nguyen.

He said the earlier you start applying, the better chances you have at landing a good summer job.

“If you are looking for a summer job, I would recommend starting no later than January or February because a lot of the good summer jobs would have already been filled by March or April,” said Nguyen.

According to statistics, 35 per cent of working students in Quebec found it easier to find a summer job in 2011 than in 2010, while only 19 per cent found it to be harder. Therefore, it doesn’t seem that the student summer job market is doomed after all.

Nguyen even said that at TD Bank, they are still searching for some spots in the summer job section.

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