02/17/2015 03:37 EST | Updated 04/20/2015 05:59 EDT

Wave Of Retail Closures Is Bad News For Summer Job-Seekers

TORONTO - Students and new graduates on the hunt for summer jobs may find the search even more daunting given the recent grim news on the homegrown retail front.

With Target shuttering its 133 Canadian locations and Jacob, Mexx, Sony, Parasuco and Jones New York closing up shop, will short-term job opportunities be tougher to come by with so many workers getting pink-slipped?

Hershi Rubinoff, president of career site CPG Connect, said she's seen a huge influx of visits from Target employees since the Minneapolis-based retailer announced its exit from the Canadian marketplace.

"I think that's the biggest problem that students and new grads are going to run into this summer because as they're applying for those part-time retail positions, there's going to be a plethora of candidates in the market from Target and ... other retailers," Rubinoff said.

"Because there's going to be so many of them looking for work, they're going to have the experience, and they're likely going to be willing to accept a lower wage."

But Lauren Friese, founder of TalentEgg, a Canadian job site and career resource for students and recent graduates, said it's still unknown how many of the eliminated jobs would have been available to young people.

The job market for teens and young adults remains a tough one.

Statistics Canada data revealed the youth unemployment rate declined by 0.7 percentage points in January to 12.8 per cent, with 30,300 more young people working compared to the year prior. Still, the youth unemployment rate far exceeds the national figure of 6.6. per cent.

Rubinoff said young people should be diversifying their job searches and looking to different sectors for potential opportunities.

"I know that event marketing is always something that is very big and definitely picks up in the summertime as the different consumer packaged goods companies look at grassroots ways to reach their target audience," she said.

Friese recently gave an hour-long presentation in which she stressed three main points on pursuing summer and post-graduate work: being resourceful, creative and taking action.

"Being resourceful starts with being very organized and figuring out all the different types of resources that are out there to help you, whether they're in the online world or the offline world," said Friese, whose website features "Bright Ideas," an online initiative aimed at crowd-sourcing solutions to improve Canada's youth employment.

Friese said she thinks the exciting part of summer employment is that students get the chance to gain experience in an area they may be uncertain they like or want to pursue for the long haul.

"Once you graduate and enter into 'the real world' you don't get those opportunities to take career sabbaticals. You don't get those opportunities to just try something new," she said.

"You commit to something and you're expected to stay there long-term. And if you do jump around a lot, you're thought of as a job-hopper that's not sure of what they want to do.

"If you do it while you're still in school it's a completely different impression," she added.

"You're seen as someone with a lot of varied experience that likes to try new things and is investing in their own personal development so that they can make the best decision for their career in the future. I think it's an incredible opportunity and I don't think a lot of students see it that way."

— Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter


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