Lou: How to get the best summer job

Jack Hernandez, 18, fills out a job application Jack Hernandez, 18, fills out a job application during The Summer Youth Jobs & Training Expo 2012 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. (May 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Bloomberg

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School is out in only a few weeks, so the time is now for those considering a summer job.

Everyone has a different reason to get a summer job. He or she might want spending money or may want to stash away some cash for the next school year. The applicant might be looking for an experience to build a skillset for the future. The summer job is a big step toward transitioning to adulthood. If any of these reasons resonate, then the student needs to get ready as many employers start recruiting well in advance of the summer.

First of all, he or she will have to decide on the type of summer job they want. Most summer jobs provide transferable skills that can come in handy down the line. Retail positions offer a great opportunity to learn universally needed sales techniques, if the applicant is sociable and able to interact with the public in a team setting.

Food-service jobs provide regular customer interaction. These jobs - servers, hosts and busboys - are often better paid than hourly workers thanks to tips. Babysitting, which requires responsibility and patience, could be another good experience. An internship in social media, marketing or finance might provide valuable business experience but often pays far less, if at all.

There are many other options as well. Whether you'd like to be a golf caddy or lifeguard at a country club, working at a sports stadium or amusement park, working outdoors on a farm or nursery or mowing lawns, or joining a hotel as a front desk clerk or housekeeper, choose quickly because hiring has already begun.

Finding the best summer job requires action. Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling before it's too late:

1. Look beyond the usual websites: Don't just look at a school's career site or a government job bank. There are many sites with job lists.

2. Network: Referrals and word of mouth are a great way to get a summer job. Many small businesses prefer to hire from referrals. Applicants should tell others they are looking for a job. Life is about who you know, so applicants should start with parents, parents' friends, teachers, counselors and coaches, and friends and their parents. Be professional and show enthusiasm and see if they know anyone hiring.

3. Stand Out: Six seconds. According to a 2012 study, that's how much time recruiters usually look at a resume. A stellar academic record and long list of accomplishments must all fit in those six seconds, so be sure to format a resume or online profile carefully. Find ways to stand out and show off personality and influence.

4. Clean up an online persona: An online presence speaks volumes to a potential employer. Google a name and see what comes up. Increase security settings on Facebook and Twitter profiles. Applicants should update a professional profile on LinkedIn if seeking a white-collar career, or create a work profile on Shiftgig.com if seeking shift work.

Summer can be an invaluable first work experience. Get a job that pays, but also learn a marketable skill. Get accustomed to a team environment. Improve ability to communicate with customers. The summer experience is a perfect way to demonstrate an understanding of the value of a hard-earned dollar, show ability to work as a team player, practice customer service and dealing with conflict resolution, and be responsible.

These are all important experiences that employers look for when hiring.

Eddie Lou is co-founder and CEO of www.shiftgig.com.

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