On the job

Valuable tips for summer jobseekers

Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012
Rebecca Pine
NAOMI ARNOLD/FAIRFAX NZ
MANY JOBSEEKERS: Jeans west manager Rebecca Pine has been inundated with applications for temporary employment.

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On a break from school and needing money this summer? Naomi Arnold finds out what you need to land a job.

They're swimming in CVs at Jeanswest in Nelson.

"At the moment, we're getting about 15 a week," manager Rebecca Pine says. "It's pretty crazy. It does fluctuate, but lately I've had just insane amounts."

Most of those who drop their CVs into the store are females around university age, though Miss Pine says there are also a fair number of overseas travellers looking for work.

With most high schools breaking up next week and Christmas bringing university students home, young people are hungry for summer dollars.

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology students association president Scott Tambisari said in early November that students were desperately hunting for summer jobs. Nothing has changed since then.

"There's not much out there at the moment," he says. About 20 people are still popping into the association's office each week, hoping to hear of any jobs, and any that appear are snapped up quickly.

"There's just nothing in the region that they're able to find," Mr Tambisari says. "Most [jobs] are quite seasonal and do fill up quickly."

Traditional summer jobs for high school and university students are retail, horticulture, tourism, hospitality and labouring. Jobs listed with Nelson Student Job Search this week included two days working as an "Animal Costumed Fundraiser" for $13.50 an hour, supermarket promotions work at $20 an hour, hospitality work at an Abel Tasman National Park eco-lodge for $14 an hour, and someone to operate an icecream truck.

Mr Tambisari says the summer influx of backpackers, the end of high school and NMIT study for the year, and the return of students from universities around New Zealand means the market is "flooded".

"It's a lot of people looking for work. It's a tough time for a few people."

One of those people is Ben Bradley. "Everything's really highly contested," he says.

The 21-year-old from Murchison is in his first year studying arts and media and contemporary music at NMIT, and has been looking for employment for the past fortnight, since exams finished. He's applied for some, has taken his CV to several places, and has had an interview for McDonald's, which he's waiting to hear back from.

He's looking for "anything" fulltime. His experience includes working in a bar, as a cook, builder and in an abattoir.

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"I'd like to work in sales because I'm a good people person. It's quite hard trying to find work around here, especially that's flexible for out-of-work activities. There were jobs going at bars, but I couldn't get those because I play in a band. Being unavailable on Saturday nights, there's no point."

However, some young people have found success by getting in early and pounding the pavement.

Former Nayland College student Teri Hall, 19, now studying animation in Wellington, arrived back home two months ago and picked up a fulltime job at outdoor store Kathmandu within three days. She's working until the end of January, despite having had no retail experience; Kathmandu teaches her about the products she's selling.

She says the key to getting an interview is how you present yourself.

"You just kind of have to be outgoing, bubbly and well presented," she says. "You can't just go around in casual Friday clothes. Talkative, but not so much that you won't get the job done."

She advises job applicants to be outgoing and to try everywhere. "You never know."

Third-year Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology nursing student Zelia Smart, 21, says there's nothing difficult about getting a job - it's all about attitude.

A month ago, Zelia dropped off her CV to about a dozen restaurants and cafes in Nelson, and landed a barista/waitress job at waterfront restaurant Relish, despite a teenage job at McDonald's being her only restaurant experience.

"I had willingness to learn. I was open to working any hours, just putting in the extra miles to work my way up and get a bit more experience," she says.

Illness put her nursing degree on hold, and she's still on a sickness benefit. Though she can only work a limited number of hours at Relish, she didn't want to spend her summer "sitting around on the couch", and intends to slowly build up her hours.

She admits that it felt "weird" to walk into places asking for work - "I felt like I was 15" - but says her peers often overlook it as a path to employment.

"I think the problem, too, is that a lot of students just look on Trade Me. I looked and was like, ‘Oh, there's no jobs going, there's nothing out there'. I thought I'd try my luck with my CV, and sure enough, it worked. If you put yourself out there, it's appealing to employers.

"Attitude is the number one thing at the end of the day, and if you're open to working weekends and later hours, your chances increase."

You might think that the perfect Nelson job would be introducing visitors to the outdoor delights of your home town, but Wilson's Abel Tasman chief executive Darryl Wilson says that as the tourism industry has become more professional, and customers more discerning, employees must be appropriately qualified. Which usually means older and already out of tertiary study. "Rightly or wrongly, [customers] want to interact with more mature people," he says.

"Unfortunately, [we need] hard skills and formal qualifications, which makes it really hard for kids. It's one of the challenges we have as a family business, even integrating our own children within the business.

"These days in society, you can't just go walking with a group of people or host on a boat. You actually have to have some very hard formal qualifications."

He adds that the extension of the summer tourism season from October to April means tourism work doesn't suit most students anyway. He says shift work such as hospitality, supermarket work and seasonal harvesting - the "frontline positions" - are a student's best bet for a summer job.

So how to improve your chances of finding work? Nelson Tasman Connections youth support adviser Tania O'Donnell says job-hunting concepts that might seem like no-brainers to experienced adults can be a mystery to young people straight out of school.

"[They] don't know necessarily what employers are looking for," she says. "I think there needs to be more awareness on their part about how to go about job-seeking."

Qualities such as looking presentable and having a confident attitude sound like common sense to an older person, but she says these are the major attributes local employers say are lacking.

"They want them to not turn up wearing a cap, not turn up wearing bare feet," she says. "Even if they're not going for interviews, they should be dressing like they are. It's having the confidence to ask for the right person, to ask if they've got any work going, to introduce themselves, look them in the eye, hold themselves well, shake their hand, ask if they can leave their CV."

Those without job experience need help to "think a little bit laterally" when writing up their skills in a CV.

Young people sometimes lack resiliency in bouncing back from all the knockdowns, she says. "It's quite a hard thing to go through."

Miss Pine says Jeanswest has seven staff, and she only looks to hire two more over the busy summer period. A friendly face, a good attitude and decent presentation are essential; retail experience is not always necessary.

"Quite a few girls I've hired have come with no retail experience, and they're some of the best ones I've hired."

She's heard of one who turned up to an interview in slippers, and can sometimes tell if applicants will fit her company by the way they answer the phone.

Mr Wilson says his hot tip is to think ahead.

"There's no use rocking up when you need work. Most of our job applications are done and dusted in June, July, August for the summer.

"Have a CV - just anything. Something you can leave with people so they can contact you and you can can pitch yourself a wee bit, even if it's just that you've done well at cricket. It gives people a clue that you can work in a team. It helps, and at least gets you on a file or a list."

Mr Tambisari says persistence is the key. "Just keep trying. It's better for you to front up to positions and talk to people looking to hire. You'll get told no a few times. But don't give up."

- Nelson

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