Standing Out: Students On The Job Hunt

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Senior Abbey Johnson does research for her Careers class. The class is taught by Tina Gilbertson.

Senior Abbey Johnson  does research for her Careers class. The class is taught by Tina Gilbertson.
Senior Abbey Johnson does research for her Careers class. The class is taught by Tina Gilbertson.

An average cell phone bill is about $50 a month. It costs about $40, give or take, for a full tank of gas. An average cost of a prom dress is $350. All of this begins to add up.

But without a paycheck, how is a teen supposed to pay for all of this?

As students start looking for a job to pay for  necessities or activities, there are a few things to keep in mind. Regardless of where you start to apply, employers pay attention to detail.

Applying for the job

“When people fill out applications, they make common mistakes. It is really important not to make any mistakes on your cover letter or application. The employers will look for anything to screen you out because they get so many applications,“ said business teacher Mary Byrns.

You will be competing with many other people. The unemployment rate in Wisconsin is at 6.3%. This is down from the 9.2% it peaked at the end of 2010, but still isn’t as low as some people would like to see. Since the labor market is in a rut, many adults are settling for jobs that they normally would not apply for.

Resource Specialist Lisa Burnam helps job seekers connect with employers through her work at Workforce Connections.

“The labor market is pretty crappy for lack of better terms. There’s not a lot of jobs. So adults are going after other jobs and competing with the youth,” said Burnham.

An application is your first impression. There is a proper way to fill out an application, says Byrns.

“Their application should look nice. Make sure to have nice handwriting and no stains on the paper. An employer might not look twice at an application that looks messy and unprofessional.”

But with most applications available online, future employees have to find other ways to get the employer’s attention. Senior Abbey Johnson has been working at Coop Credit Union since her sophomore year. She has had experience with the process of getting a job.

“My mom suggested that I make a copy of the application and then fill out the copy first, so I would know exactly what I was going to write,” said Johnson.

Burnam advises to answer every question, even if it doesn’t pertain to you.

“Instead of leaving something blank just put “NA” or “not applicable.” Leaving something blank is a common mistake people make. Answer every question,” said Burnham.

If you have a job, don’t quit it before you find your next, says Burnham.

“It’s best to apply while you have a job. it looks better to the employer if you are already working.”

Interviewing

The interview could be your first face-to-face impression with the employer.

“I was really nervous. I didn’t know what to wear because you are supposed to dress professionally. I asked my mom, and she said that I should dress as professional as anyone else there dresses. I decided on dress pants and a blazer,” said Johnson.

The big worry is that this generation it too reliant on others, especially their parents. According to Adecco, a human-resources organization, one in 10 college grads say that their parents accompanied them to their interviews.

“The younger generation relies a lot on their mom and dad. I have heard stories about kids having cell phones with them and having their parents on speaker phone when they don’t know how to answer a question,” said Byrns.

There are easy ways to not be caught off guard with questions they might ask, without putting your parents on speakerphone.

“I had practiced doing interviews before this, so I knew a little bit of what they would ask and how to answer. I really didn’t want to practice because I felt stupid talking to my mom, but she was really helpful. She asked me questions, and made me shake her hand and act professional. I felt kind of stupid but I am glad she made me do that,“ said Johnson.

If you need some help finding a job, or need more information, Burnham recommends worknet.wisconsin.gov and onetonline.org.