In winter, summer means a couple of things: days spent quietly drinking (by which I mean inhaling bottle after bottle of Pimms) and 'catching the sun' (by which I mean turning a painful shade of burnt), yet now we're in July, all thoughts revolve around money – or the lack thereof. It's time to finally 'get a job'. Easier said than done!
Your summer should be a time to relax, and you should cherish these long holidays as there will not be many like them again. That said, over half of top employers recently announced graduates without experience, irrespective of academic achievement, would have little or no chance of landing a place on their graduate schemes – meaning it is vital to get even a little work where you can.
Three, two, one … GO
The market is too tough to bear weak candidates: relinquish your world champion status as a procrastinator and start applying now. Not after you get back from holiday, now. HR staff are notoriously slow, so get things rolling or your first interview will end up in Freshers' week.
Consider what you want your job to be: is it spare cash to minimize your risk of starvation or are you looking for relevant experience for a future career? Ideally it will be both but your approach will differ according to your aims. If it's 'just a job' you're after, do not be fussy. Approach it as you would speed dating after a few pints – take what you can.
"Dear <insert name here>" just will not cut it
Finding a job is tough enough, but you're probably, but you're probably competitive against every other uni student back in town, so even securing an interview will be a challenge. There is not time to apply for one job and then wait to see the output – you'll need to apply for a few at a time but do your best to tailor each application as every hiring manager is sick of generic cover letters-they 're a real turn off.
Look for forgotten options
The usual suspects are a terrifying starting point – supermarkers, pubs and high-street stores always take on summer staff- but think a little further afield. Try the cinema, be a theater usher, work shifts at a theme park. There are all sorts of small jobs which need filling (I mean, who puts the little plastic bits on the ends of shoe-laces ?!) and the trick is to think of who might possibly hire you. The less competition, the better.
It goes without saying that if you're keen on relevant experience, you should try to work with the company you'd like to end up with – take anything, as it's too late now to apply to their dedicated schemes- but it shows tremendously willing if you're happy to make the tea or be photocopier-in-chief.
Agencies work to get you a job
Agencies are well worth signing up to – pop your details on the job board and you'll probably be picked up by a recruiter (the summer can be slow for recruitment consultants so they pounce on fresh candidates with vigour). They'll do the hard work for you and are likely to secure some more fundamental experience, like office work. Recruiters scour the job boards every day, all day, so if you've signed up to somewhere like Total Jobs or Monster, they'll find you. It's less creepy than it sounds.
Remember, an agency should always be completely and utterly free – they charge companies, not candidates. Never, ever hand over a penny.
Make like you're a socialite
Work any and every contact you may have – friends and family go a long way. If someone can personally put forward your details, it acts as precious endorsement. Frustratingly, many jobs require you to fill out a dastardly online application form, which can somehow negate the effect but if the manager recognizes your name, it may still help.
I've heard these online application forms are used in foreign prisons to extract information from enemy spies, such is the madness and pain they can inspire and inflammation. Have all your details in a Word document so you can simply copy and paste the required information – far better than reliving your embargoing GCSE French over and over. Going to shops asking door-to-door has fallen out of vogue and in all likelihood, you'll probably be directed to a website anyway. You'll get a decent walk out of it but it's a great waste of scant time – however, if you live in an area of small, independent shops, it may well be worthwhile. Keep an eye out for job adverts in windows.
Do not treat it like 'a summer job'
The biggest block to a successful summer job hunt is the flippancy it's often treated with. Even if you're not looking for the kind of experience which could lead to a long term role, the application process should not be disregarded blithely. While you may see this as an unskilled summer job which simply does not much matter, a company categorically will not see things the same way – even if they are hiring for only a couple of months, they still want the best people. This means tailoring your CV and cover letter to each job is vital, and a general tidying up of your CV is required too –you have one page to grab them, so do not let it go to waste. Be brief and for God's sake, spell everything correctly. Smarten up when you interview; the candidate in trainers is never going to land the job – well, except it's an interview with Footlocker.
Got skills? Sell 'em
If none of these works, consider being a freelancer. Google and a million results will return – build your profile and clearly self-promote. It's difficult but it may work. If you've a skill, and could tutor or teach, consider posting a few adverts online. Remember summer is a time parents desperately try and distract their devil offspring: little Hugo may be in dire need of piano lessons (before mummy's hearing is shot) so this could be your time to start a budding career as a piano tutor. This sort of work is excellent too for those headed away or with many arrangements which can not be broken – high alert potential, flexible hours. It's a win-win.