Attempting to land your first job and earn yourself a little extra money during high school can seem like a daunting task, especially when everyone around you is also trying. So, this article will run through some questions you may have, and help you to prepare the best resume and interview skills to shine through from other candidates.
Popular Jobs for High School Students
Some jobs are more open to hiring high school students with limited/no work experience than others! These jobs are also flexible and more of a suitable match for your school commitments. Some of these include:
- Retail sales assistant
- Supermarket worker (could be a cashier or a shelf filler)
- Fast food worker
- Cafe waiter
These sorts of jobs are very popular, and often have benefits included. For example, you will often be given a staff discount or free food - so apply to places that you like! Moreover, places such as McDonalds have recognised training programs, which will look good to include on your resume when applying for other jobs later on.
In saying this, you should pursue any job that interests you and you feel capable of doing! There are a lot of ‘random’ jobs that are out there, and it could be a great experience and an opportunity to learn something new or meet people you might not have otherwise. Some of the jobs that I have taken have not been conventional in the slightest, but I’ve appreciated them just as much.
Where and When Should You be Looking for a Job?
Employers will be hiring at all times of the year, however there is certainly an increase in demand around the holiday season. If applying to be a Christmas casual, definitely get in early and send your resume as early as September to give yourself the best chance to be considered. Try not to wait until it’s already December!
There are many places to look for a job. First and foremost, ask around! Ask your family and friends if they know anywhere that is hiring, or have any opportunities for you to do some work. Another option is to walk around your local shopping centre handing out your resumes to stores. I would recommend bringing a friend along if you’re going to do this, and make sure to give your resume to the manager of the store wherever possible.
Alternatively, there are many options online. There are a variety of employment websites such as Seek and Indeed. You can use filters such as ‘casual’, ‘student’ and ‘no experience’ to tailor your searches. Jora Local is also a great option as it matches applicants to small businesses in the area looking for staff. A majority of jobs that can be found on their service include waiters, delivery drivers and cleaners.
Lastly, social media can be a really helpful tool. Facebook has a ‘Jobs’ section that can be filtered by location, industry and job type. A wide variety of businesses post their ads on there, and it can potentially mean you have less competition than ads posted on employment websites as there is a smaller audience.
Essential Sections of Your Resume
A good resume should include:
Put your full name, phone number and email address at the top of your document.
Education, awards and skills
Put your high school and any academic achievements that you have! These could include ICAS results, a school award or certificate, or an impressive final grade. Don’t forget to add the year that you received it. In this section you can also include any technical skills that you have such as being proficient in Excel/Microsoft Office applications, knowing how to code, or the ability to use a POS system.
Activities and experiences
If you have any work experience, include this here. Other activities that would be great to mention would be things such as volunteering experience, participation in a sporting activity or a band/musical activity. The Duke of Edinburgh’s award is also a great thing to add here. When writing about this, it is best to have a short (10 words or less) summary of the activity and the years you did it as a subheading, and then below you can go more into depth.
In my own resume, I have it separated into two sections: what was required of me as well as what I learnt from doing it. Try to use specific evidence when discussing the activity, for example ‘I served 100 meals at the homeless shelter each week for 2 years’ is much better than ‘Volunteered at the homeless shelter’. Emphasise the skills you gained because of it. Some great ones to include are communication skills, ability to work in a team, leadership and time management. Use words that paint you in a favourable light such as ‘positive’, ‘productive’, ‘collaborative’, ‘took initiative’ and ‘proficient’. Remember that you are trying to sell yourself to whoever is reading your resume!
Lastly, you should include at least one referee on your resume. A referee is someone that your potential employer can call up to give information about you, as well as to confirm what you’ve said in your resume. As you gain more work experience, your referees are typically previous employers.
Some good referees to consider might be your sports coach, band conductor, your favourite teacher or even your principal. Include their full name, a brief description of their relationship to you as well as their contact details. Make sure to ask them for permission before you put them down as a referee!!!
Designing Your Resume
Your resume is a professional document, so you shouldn’t make it too ornamental. The most important part is ensuring that it is concise and easy to read.
- Use a standard font such as Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman
- Use headings/subheadings to make each section distinct and clear
- Make sure it is formatted consistently throughout the document
- Aim to make it approximately a page, and definitely no more than 2 pages long
When you’re finished, you should also save it as a pdf to ensure that your formatting doesn’t get messed up!
Next up is how to ace your interview! If you’ve been successful with your resume, your potential employer will most likely reach out and ask to conduct an interview with you to learn a bit more about you.
How to Present Yourself at an Interview
A job interview is a professional setting, and so you want to present yourself as such. Wear nice, professional clothes; for example formal pants and a blouse/button down shirt. Make sure to be polite and respectful to your potential employer and any other workers that are present.
How to Answer Interview Questions
You’ve already spent time and thought constructing your resume, so in your interview you should try and build upon that. If asked about yourself and the things that you do, you can provide extra details going further into depth about what you have said on your resume.
There is also a list of questions that interviewers commonly ask, so it would be great to pre-prepare answers to these questions so that you feel less nervous on the day. Some such examples of questions are:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want to work here in particular
- What is your greatest strength/weakness
- Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced, and how you overcame it
- Tell me about a time that you’ve displayed leadership/initiative
- Do you feel comfortable working independently/in a team environment
- What are your availabilities like
- When can you start
Don’t necessarily have a script written out, as this can make it feel forced or staged, but if you’ve given some thought to your answers before going into your job interview, you’ll definitely be able to relax a bit more and showcase your personality. Try to make your answers to questions about things such as ‘a challenge you’ve faced’ as detailed and personal as you can, as this will help to differentiate you from other candidates. It’s also a good idea to brainstorm a question to ask them about the job/company to show that you have done your research and really care about the potential job. Most of all, be yourself. Good luck!