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Need a Summer Job, Students? Start Looking Now

03/18/2014 12:21 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

With persistent cold weather and snow still blanketing much of Canada and the United States, it's hard to even contemplate summer -- let alone a summer job. However, many college and university students are already actively seeking summer employment to help pay for the next year's tuition or add some experience to their resume. If you haven't started the summer job search yet, now is a good time to start.

With youth unemployment in Canada hovering around 14 per cent, competition in the job market is fierce. To land your ideal job, or in many cases any job, you will need to put in some time and effort.

Create a strong social media presence

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to be successful in your job search is to ensure you have a strong social media presence. Some 93 per cent of recruiters use social media to find candidates, so if you do not have a strong presence, you could be missing out. Social media helps you communicate your personal brand to recruiters and potential employers in a way that traditional resumes do not. In addition to creating a profile on LinkedIn, you have an opportunity to post endorsements and showcase your work on other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These sites create a brand for you, so make sure it's one you're proud to stand behind. Word to the wise: if you don't want your mother to see something, you don't want your potential employer to see it either.

Don't overlook traditional summer jobs

The ideal situation for many students is to land a job related to their field of study. However, to increase your chances of finding summer employment and securing a regular paycheque, you should also consider applying for more traditional summer jobs like landscaping, lifeguarding or working in a restaurant. While these "traditional" summer jobs may not provide you with exposure to the occupation you are aspiring to reach, they still provide tangible work experience and skills that are transferrable. They also help to build your resume. One of my first summer jobs was working as a cashier in a local grocery store. I gradually took on the role of part time bookkeeper for the store as well. That work experience, and a strong letter of recommendation from my manager, helped me land my first job in the financial services industry, one that I returned to each summer throughout university and became my first full time job

Consider starting your own business

If your summer job search isn't panning out, or if you really want to take control of your earning power, consider starting your own business. By utilizing your skills, and in some cases manpower, you can create an income and gain valuable work experience. If you are willing to put together a brief business plan, have strong organizational skills and are comfortable networking, starting a business could be your ticket to generating income in the summer months. Some things to consider are start-up costs, registering your business, potential clients and market research to establish a fair and competitive price for your services. From a career development perspective, future employers will be impressed with your entrepreneurial spirit, initiative and creativity.

Now that you have an income...

Regardless of what type of work you do this summer, don't lose sight of the end goal: to pay for another year of school. The best saving advice is to pay yourself first. If possible, have a set amount withdrawn from your account automatically, at the time your pay is deposited. Have a budget prepared for the next school year and know how much you need to last the year, and whether you require supplemental income from a bank or elsewhere. If you are running your own business, be sure to put a percentage aside in a separate savings or investment account. If you don't already have a budget, now is the time to prepare one. This will give you a clear picture of how much income is coming in and what you plan to spend each month, making saving that much easier.

Melissa Jarman is the Director of Student Banking at RBC. She is the mother of two children ages 10 and 14, and already helping them prepare for summer job searches. For budgeting tips and student planning, visit the website.

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