When you don’t have work experience, it’s hard to know how to get a job. In part 2, Stever gives several more tips on how to pursue and land a real job.
Listener Andrew is a high school student who's thinking ahead. He Tweeted, asking about finding a part-time job, which spurred a 2-part series from your Get-It-Done Guy. Check out part 1 of my tips for getting a part-time job.>
Today, we’re going to learn 5 more ways to boost your resume, if you’re still in school:
Tip #5: Make a Personal Connection
You'll notice that the tactic I described in Tip #4 didn't involve a resume. In a crowded job market, everyone in the world is sending out resumes. Resumes do not help you. Resumes never get a candidate hired; they do, however, disqualify some candidates. When I suggested you pound the pavement earlier, I meant it. Get out there and meet small businesspeople in person. Get out a phone book—yes, a paper phone book—and turn to a job you're interested in. Then go through the listings and go visit each business after doing your research, and ask to speak to the owner. If one owner won't hire you, ask if they have any advice for getting hired at the next one you visit. Keep going until one of them hires you.
This is called "showing initiative." It's very impressive to potential employers, and even if they don't hire you, they'll probably remember you. There are worse things than having a reputation as someone who shows initiative. (There are also better things, like having a pony, but that's a different podcast.)
Tip #6: Have a Professional-Looking, Skill-Based Resume
If you're a high school student or just starting out, no one is going to expect you to have a resume to show amazing work experience. If they ask for a resume, they want to see that you've made the most of what you have done, and that you can put it together to look professional.
Organize your resume into sections around skills and work qualities. Have each section list a skill set you have, and then beneath the skill set have supporting examples. One section could be "Takes initiative in overseeing complex tasks." As supporting evidence, you could list: "Organized 10-people to plan, sell tickets, and run Halloween dance at my high school."
Talk with your parents, teachers who know you, and friends to get their outside perspective on what qualities you can highlight.
Tip #7: Have Good Personal and Work References
If you have little work experience, references will carry a lot of weight in your job search. Find people willing to serve as personal and professional references. Ask each to write a nicely formatted, professional-looking letter that you can print and give to a prospective employer along with your resume.
Personal references are statements about you as a person. They should highlight the qualities that would make you a good employee. Ask people to be specific and provide examples with their references. "Andrew is extremely civic minded. Whenever a little old lady crosses the street by the high school, he jumps up, yells 'I'm coming, Granny!' and runs out to help her." (My heart swells, just thinking about it!)
A good professional reference talks about things someone has seen you do. Actual accomplishments. "Andrew is good with animals. Last spring, he taught sign language to a dolphin." If you're applying to work at a pet store or at Sea World, this is a great reference. You don't need to mention that you taught the dolphin a limerick that started, "There once was a man from Nantucket…"