Tips for Finding a Job
The competition for good jobs is fierce but that doesn’t mean you can’t find one! The more people you talk to, the more research you do, and the more you prepare yourself, the greater your chances of finding a great job. Youth Ready Chicago is just one of many places to pursue a summer job and gain valuable job skills. Here are some additional things to try…
- Personal Contacts
- School Planning and Placement Offices
- It's Your Call
- Local Newspapers
- Local job ads State Employment Offices
- Community Organizations
Use the network of people that you know like friends, family, teachers and former co-workers to get information about employment opportunities that may not be advertised. Making calls and hitting the pavement to meet people in your community is one of the best ways to connect with potential employers.
QUICK TIP: Face-to-face contact is essential when it comes to finding a job.
All you have to do is bring copies of your Resume, put on a nice shirt and pants, and start talking! Begin by asking for advice from people you know – family, friends, neighbors and fellow community and church members. Talk with them about your job search, interests and skills. You’ll be surprised how many adults will offer you excellent advice and assistance. Some may even you in touch with someone else who is hiring. These connections give you an “inside track” on job openings and may even land you the type of personal recommendation that advances your application to the top of the stack!
School Career Planning and Placement Offices
High school and college placement offices are great places for students and alumni to prepare for, and find jobs. These offices typically offer: job search tips and tools, testing to determine your interests and skills, hands-on assistance to help you search for jobs and assistance preparing your resume and other materials. They may know about local openings and job fairs, and help set up appointments so students and employers can meet. Placement offices also usually have a list of part-time, temporary and summer jobs available right on campus. They may have lists of jobs for regional, nonprofit and government organizations, too.
QUICK TIP: Career Resource Libraries also may offer information and workshops to help you prepare for, and find, a job.
Go straight to the source! Walk around your community, thumb through the Yellow Pages and conduct online searches using city and industry key words to develop a target list of potential employers of interest to you. You also may wish to include firms that provide temporary workers on your target lists.
QUICK TIP: Temporary, or staffing, firms serve many professions (secretarial, manufacturing, accounting, information technology, construction) and offer people with relevant skills part-time employment assignments. This is a great way to experience multiple companies from the inside and learn more about your preferences and interests.
Reach out to companies that offer jobs in your areas of interest. If you want to work at a local park, for example, visit the Chicago Park District’s Web site and walk over and introduce yourself to the staff who work at parks in your area. Talk to the owners of local stores and restaurants next time you visit, express how much your like their products/food, let them know how much you would like to work for them and ask if they have any openings.
It’s Your Call
Obtain phone numbers from Internet searches and the phone book, and call companies of interest directly. This isn’t as hard as it seems and can be a great way to make personal connections with potential employers. If the company has a Web site, begin by visiting the site and check out the “Career” or “Employment” and “About Us” sections of the site. You may see a job that interest you, which you can then reference during your call. If the company doesn’t have a Web site or any online job postings, feel free to call and ask to speak to their “HR” (Human Resources) or “Personnel” department about employment opportunities. You conversation with the appropriate person might go something like this.
“HI, my name is (fill in), and I’m a (grade) at (school). I love (fill in - your store/product/service/food) and would love to work for you. I am (highlight a few of your skills, training/classes or personality strengths relevant to the job) and was wondering if you have any current job openings? (Wait for response.) May I drop off or email you my resume so that I might be considered for current and future job openings?”
If you have a career goal in the same industry as the company you are calling, let them know this, too. Each call typically only takes a few minutes once you have prepared your list. If the employer is busy or not willing to talk, or says there are no jobs, don’t take it personally. Just be kind and always thank the person you are speaking with for their time and wish them a good day.
Remember, the more people you contact, the greater your chances of finding a job you will enjoy! We all win some and lose some in the search for jobs. The key is to be persistent and keep trying. You’ll find the more people you talk to the easier it is, whether they are or aren’t looking for new employees. This develops your future job and communication skills, which will come in handy whether you land that job or not.
If a company you are interested in doesn’t have any jobs available, ask if they offer internships. Just like volunteering, internships can give you great experience, contacts and marketable skills.
QUICK TIP: Another effective way to network with employers is to contact and request an “informational” meeting with someone who works in the same area where you wish to work. Let them know that you are a student interested in (their field). Ask if they would have time to talk with you about how they got started, what they enjoy or dislike about the work, what type of qualifications are necessary for the job, and what type of personality succeeds in that position. If they say yes, ask lots of questions!
Make sure to send contacts your resume and a thank-you note. Even if they don't have a position available, they may be able to put you in touch with other people who might hire you, and they can keep you in mind if a position opens up. Having mentors to counsel you in your areas of interest will benefit you throughout your entire career.
The Internet provides a variety of information, including job listings and job search resources and techniques. However, no single network or resource will contain all of the information available on employment or career opportunities. Be creative and be prepared to conduct multiple searches to find what you need. Remember that job listings may be posted by field or discipline so use a variety of keywords. When searching employment databases on the Internet, it is often possible to send your resume to an employer by e-mail or by posting it on-line. Some sources allow you to send e-mail free of charge, but be careful that you are not going to incur any additional charges for postings or updates. Most of the major job sites also offer lots of tips and samples to help you prepare your resume, write cover letters, and find and apply for jobs.
QUICK TIP: A few popular online job sites include:
Net-Temps (contract, temporary)
Many major cities and states also have localized job Web sites, such as www.ChicagoJobs.com. Always be careful and do your homework on the Web site you use and the company and person to whom you are releasing your contact information. The Chicago Public Library is a great resource to obtain assistance, www.chipublib.org.
LOOK OUT! Never pay to apply to a job. Be wary of Web sites with lots of advertising pop-up ads or banner ads and job postings that seem “to good to be true,” promising lots of money in exchange for little work or skills. Once you identify a job or company that interests you, you can usually go to that company’s Web site directly or the library and learn more about the potential employer before your contact them. This also will allow you to tailor your cover letter and resume to the skills required by that company/job. Asking adult family members, teachers, school counselors and professionals in your network about a company that interests you also can be beneficial. In addition to giving your helpful guidance, you never know just who might know someone at the company in which you are interested!
While more and more jobs today are posted online and far more than that are available through personal networking, local newspapers are good sources to check for local jobs. Chicago media outlets such as The Reader newspaper post job advertisements in the newspaper and on their Web site, and local neighborhood papers also often list jobs at local business. As always, do your homework and ask others such as librarians, teachers, counselors and family members for advice and assistance. Expect that some ads offer little or no description of the job, working conditions or pay – factors which may help you narrow down which leads you want to pursue.
State Employment Offices
The State employment service, sometimes called Job Service, operates in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Local offices, found nationwide, help job seekers find jobs at no cost. To find the office nearest you, look in the State government telephone listings under "Job Service" or "Employment."
Nonprofit organizations and community agencies are an excellent place to apply your energy and skills, gain professional experience, and start preparing for your future career. These organizations often need hardworking young people who believe in their mission and are willing to roll up their sleeves and be of service. In addition, if you are unable to immediately find a paying job, local service organizations can be the single best place to volunteer. You will gain connections and valuable experience while serving your community. It’s a wonderful feeling!
QUICK TIP: Some nonprofits, local agencies and churches also offer career development and job placement counseling and support services.
QUICK TIP: To identify nonprofit organizations in Chicago, try searching for directories of nonprofits and by location on Web sites such as:
You also can use major search engines and conduct focused searches on topics of interest by combining the word “nonprofit” or “not-for-profit,” “Chicago” and your areas of interest (health, children, seniors, animal rescue, dogs, cats), for example. More tips on Volunteering.