Monday, 1 November 2010

How to Get a Great Job

by Sherry Obenauer, M.A., M.Ed.

Job Vacancies, Employment, Employment Jobs

Recent statistics suggest an employment rate of over 60% for high school students and this number is increasing. With way too many things that need to be bought and fun things to do, the weekly parental allowance just doesn't cut it anymore. So, in order to keep up with the yearly changing fashions, musical genre, and movie tickets, teens have to get a job.

Unfortunately, because of work inexperience and lack of self-marketing knowledge, most teens end up working at any number of retail outlets or fast food restaurants. Some even have paper routes or babysit. A rare few students get a decent job working in Mom's or Dad's company, but the majority of teens work hard for minimum wages and often on weekends or evenings. This really sucks for dating.

You can get a great job! All you have to do is learn how to market yourself. This means making a resume employers will actually want to read, knowing how to answer interview questions and present yourself, and where to look for employment.

The majority of adults don't have any clue how to market themselves and so do work they don't enjoy or bounce from job to job. After reading this article, you'll be able to teach your parents something for a change! Plus, you'll be able to use these skills now and after you complete post-secondary education if you choose to do so later on.


  1. always use high quality white 8.5 x 11 paper with typed black 12-point lettering. avoid using colored paper or type and pictures or drawings. type on one side only and no longer than 3 pages.
  2. place your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the first page. make you name several fonts larger and bold so it stands out.
  3. use headers in bold to separate resume sections (e.g., education, accomplishments, work history, etc.).
  4. if you have more education than experience, list your education first and vice versa.
  5. given your lack of work experience, list your accomplishments. accomplishments can be personal, educational, physical, or occupational. state such accomplishments in terms of the skill used (developed, wrote, created), the audience (students, agency, clients), and the result (improved learning, increased sales, enhanced team performance). for example, "wrote and edited articles for high school newsletter which informed students of upcoming events." "counseled adolescents which improved their emotional health." "promoted to captain on community basketball team and enhanced team cohesion."
  6. list any awards, certificates, trophies, and medals received in a separate section (e.g., award for english excellence, trophy for best player, certificate for highest grade in gr. 11).
  7. list any volunteer experience as well as work experience in terms of position held, agency name, and time period you were there.
  8. ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  9. hand deliver your resume to the employer if possible.

Cover letter

  1. Enclose a cover letter with each resume.
  2. Your name, address, and phone number; the employer's name, address, and phone number; and the current date should be on it. Never address cover letters, "to whom it may concern". If you don't know the addressee's name, phone and find out or don't address it to anyone. Use the term, "dear" when addressing the employer (e.g., Dear Mr. Simmons,).
  3. In the opening paragraph, state where you found out about the job opening, the job title, and your eagerness to secure the position.
  4. List 3-4 of your accomplishments in point form beginning with an asterisk. Double space between accomplishments.
  5. In the final paragraph, restate your interest in the position, your confidence that you can do the job, and your availability for an interview along with your phone number.
  6. End the letter with, "Yours truly", "Sincerely", or something to that effect. Leave about five spaces for you to sign your name and the type your name underneath your signature.


  1. Dress professionally! Men should wear a suit and tie with dress shoes or, at the very least, a dress shirt and slacks and be clean-shaven. Women should wear a dress, blouse and skirt, or pants suit. Dresses and skirts should fall below the knees. Wear mild colors (black, gray, brown, white). Keep the amount of make-up worn and jewelry to minimum and don't wear perfume or cologne.
  2. Shake hands with the interviewer and introduce yourself and why you are there.
  3. Maintain eye contact at all times when the interviewer is speaking, but only occasionally when you are speaking.
  4. Sit up straight with hands folded on your lap and try to keep fidgeting to a minimum.
  5. Come prepared with 3-4 questions to ask of the interviewer (e.g., what methods are in place for measuring job performance, what might my first project be).
  6. Be honest and take your time answering.
  7. If you don't understand what is being asked, ask for clarification.
  8. State your willingness to learn, your interest in the position, and the skills you can bring to the job (list your accomplishments).
  9. Thank the interviewer for the interview, shake hands, and ask when you can expect to get an answer.
  10. . Send a thank-you letter immediately following the interview. Indicate your name, address, and phone number; the employer's name, address, and phone number; and the current date. Thank the person for the interview, list the job, list the date of the interview, and reiterate your interest and ability to do the job. If you have any concerns about how you answered a question, restate it here.

Where to Find Jobs

Most people tend to restrict their job search to newspapers, the internet, and facility job postings; however, only about ten percent of jobs are actually advertised. So as to include this ten percent in your job search, the following is a list of various internet sites that list job vacancies.

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