How to Land a Good Summer Job
By Margaret Steen
Summer jobs aren't just for students anymore. Teachers on break, retirees looking for some extra cash and workers considering a career change are all examples of people who can benefit from trying a new job during the summer.
Whether for students or established workers, summer job opportunities are more varied than life-guarding at the local pool. Here's a sampling of the industries that typically hire for the summer, and what types of workers they need:
- Construction: Summer is prime time for building, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, where harsh winters prevent outdoor work. And although the housing market's slump may have slowed home construction, road repairs will still go forward. Not all construction jobs involve heavy lifting or standing in the sun all day holding a stop sign. Project managers and engineers are in demand for these summer gigs as well, says Jocelyn Lincoln, senior director of Americas marketing for Kelly Services.
- Tourism: Resorts, national parks and travel companies all see an increase in business during the summer. They'll hire people to work onsite but may also need help behind the scenes. Jobs may be available working the phones for customer service, for example, Lincoln said.
- Agriculture and Landscaping: Like construction, agriculture and landscaping industries need a lot more workers in the summer than in the winter. And again, although some jobs will involve working on the landscape crew, landscaping companies may also hire extra people to answer customers' questions and schedule jobs.
- Other Fields: Even in industries where there's no particular uptick in work to be done over the summer, there may be opportunities. Workers go on vacation, after all, and in some cases companies have to fill their positions for a few weeks.
The Hiring Process
"Summer jobs can be like auditions," said John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Some of the jobs may turn into full-time employment for the right worker.
For those interested, the time to start looking is now. Lincoln said recruiting is likely to start in March or April, which is when companies start planning their summer projects and looking at their staffing needs.
Companies may well be filling some jobs, especially lower-level ones, later in the spring and even into the summer. But "the higher skilled the job, the harder it is for the company to find people with those skills, and the more the hiring process moves back," Challenger says
As for the skills workers need to land a summer job, they're similar to what any job requires: technical know-how, communication skills, reliability. But since summer jobs don't last long, companies are especially reluctant to hire anyone who needs extensive training. Flexibility and a willingness to just get the job done are critical.