Do you have a student in high school? If so, the conversation around the dinner table may likely be about your kid’s next steps – will they continue on and pursue further education, join the military, go on a mission, or jump straight into the workforce? As a Global Career Development Facilitator (aka career coach) I work with students daily to help them plan their next steps. One of the most important ways I do this is by encouraging students to start exploring all sorts of career options.
As a high school student and even as an early college student, I knew I liked to help people but wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Through the various jobs I had beginning from the time I was 16, I explored many “helping” careers. From my first job working in my local school district’s accounts payable office to serving as a concierge at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington, to being a Graduate Community Director for the University of Arizona’s Residence Hall for students who had not yet declared their majors, I had the ability to explore where my helping skills would fit best.
While working on my master’s degree in higher education I took a full-time job as a Management Trainee with a for-profit college. This job afforded me the opportunity to try out four different areas of student services to see what was the best fit for long term career growth. Through this program I learned a lot about myself, working in a corporate setting, and what I desired in my day to day job. At the end of the program, Career Services was the department I excelled in the most and felt my skill set was best suited for. Over the last seven years I’ve been able to provide help to hundreds of students completing career and technical education training and seeking positions in their fields of study — this work certainly fulfills my desire to help others.
If you’re having conversations with your student about job searching here are some tried and true tips I share with everyone I coach:
Job Searching is a Full Time Job
Plan to spend as many hours job searching as you plan to work. Typically, jobs will not just be arranged for you. You will seek them out, apply, interview, and then be hired – this takes time! If you’re planning to work 10 hours per week, put in those same hours searching and applying to jobs until you’ve obtained employment.
Utilize Your Network
Talk to friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and anyone you meet who works in a company that interest you or has a position that you’d like to see yourself in today or in the future. Take time to ask questions, listen how they got to where they are and then follow up to find out if there might be opportunities for them to assist you in learning about available positions related to your interest.
Pound the Pavement
Visit shops and businesses within a five mile radius of your home and school(s), especially those you frequent often. Be sure to dress as if you were going to an interview and bring copies of your resume. While many places will have you go fill out an application online, you may get the opportunity to meet the hiring manager and make your first impression. Looking near your home or school will ensure you don’t end up with a job that is hard to get to because of location.
Attendance is Everything
Don’t forget that future employers will be looking at your attendance both at your high school and any other activities you participate in. In addition, your part-time employer will expect you to be on-time and available during the hours you agree upon during your hiring. You can set yourself up for success by being upfront with potential employers about your school commitment, your commute time, and your availability due to homework, clubs, and other activities.
Beat the ATS Trap
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used by many companies in an effort to streamline human resources processes and reporting. These systems typically will scan resumes for the keywords that are listed in a job description. If you have not customized your resume to the employer’s job description you may find yourself with an automatic “declined” email upon submission. To improve your chances at success in having your resume make it past the computer system and into the hands of a hiring manager be sure to utilize the same verbiage that is listed in the job description – this is one time that it is okay to copy and paste without citing your source. By using the exact words found in the job description you’re more likely to have your resume moved on to a hiring manger. Remember though, if you list it on your resume be ready to speak to it at an interview!
I hope that these job searching tips can help you guide your student to finding a career that is right for them!