Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Still Time to Hunt Summer Job

IT SEEMS AS IF EVERYONE THAT'S GOING to get a summer job already has one. But that doesn't mean you should quit looking if you don't.

Absolutely not, say the experts. Especially if you're a high school or college student. They expect summer hiring to be better than last year and to continue through July. 

Many employers filling summer positions may have already completed the initial process of interviewing and hiring.  However, some employers may need more workers than expected.  Others may find that the workers they hired were not a good fit.  In any case, summer job seekers should not give up," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which provides job-search training to people who were laid off by their employers.

In April, Challenger forecast that teen employment gains this summer would increase from 2012 levels due to steady improvement throughout the economy, but particularly in lower-skilled, lower-paying hourly wage categories.

Last year, the number of working 16- to 19-year-olds grew by nearly 1.4 million (1,397,000) in May, June and July, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That marked a 29 percent improvement over 2011, when 1,087,000 teens found summer jobs.  In 2010, only 960,000 teenagers were added to payrolls; the fewest since 1949, government data show.

"Last year's teen summer job market was the strongest since 2007, when a pre-recession economy added nearly 1.7 million 16- to 19-year-olds to employer payrolls.  There is a chance we could reach that level again in 2013; not necessarily because the economy is booming, but because the types of employers that typically seek out teens are doing better," said Challenger.

"However, even with an improving economy and more teen hiring, competition for jobs will remain fierce.  Right now, there are more than 1.2 million unemployed 16- to 19-year-olds who are looking for work.  There are probably an additional 1.1 to 1.2 million who have stopped looking for work, but still want a job," said Challenger.

"Of course, then you have the competition from older, more experienced applicants, including retirees who are seeking low-skilled, low-pressure jobs to supplement their retirement income.  It is equally important that they take an active approach as opposed to a passive one that relies mostly on Internet job boards," said Challenger.

"By getting out from behind the computer, young job seekers are likely to uncover opportunities that don't exist in the digital realm.  Many mom-and-pop stores do not advertise job openings on the Internet.  Nor do most families looking for babysitters, lawnmowers or housecleaners.  Some of the best opportunities for summer work may be for the odd-jobs entrepreneur.

"Use your parents, friends and your friends' parents as sources for job leads.  Try to meet with hiring managers face-to-face, as opposed to simply dropping off a completed application form with a random clerk at the sales counter," he added. 

"Furthermore, those who devote a couple of hours a day to the job search will be at a severe disadvantage compared to those who devote eight to 10 hours a day to finding a job.  Some of that time can be spent on Internet job sites, but that should be done primarily at night.  During the day, the majority of one's time should be spent going from employer to employer and meeting with hiring managers.  This face-to-face contact is critical to a successful job search," he added.
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