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Find That Summer Job

By: Alan Davis

Spring break is over, exams are on the horizon and beyond that is the prospect of earning enough money to fund the next college year. Advertisements for summer employment have already started to appear. What to do? Time is at a premium but if you leave it too late, all the jobs will be gone. I recently coached my seventeen-year-old son James through a job search. It was relatively easy for me as there are many parallels between job search and people search. Plus, of course, during the course of my career, I’ve been on the receiving end of thousands of job applications and have conducted thousands of interviews.

We decided on a short-term strategy of finding a part time job as soon as possible,
and a summer job by the end of April.

By following a few simple steps you can nail the best jobs around. The key is to have a plan so that you can take advantage of opportunities as they appear and to have the best presentation material possible. It won’t take up a lot of time to plan or to execute if you follow this strategy. The jobs are there to be had. Get ahead of the pack.

Prepare an Awesome Resume

There is a wealth of material in bookstores and on the web on how to prepare a resume. Rather than repeat it all here, attached is a brief summary article on the subject and a copy of the resume that we prepared for James. Employers generally recognize that most students do not have a great deal of work experience to their credit so the resume should focus on achievements in other areas. This could include academic, sports, hobbies and community service.

Make the resume clear and easy to read. Make sure that it is really easy for your future employer to get in contact with you. Generally speaking, the rules and guidelines which apply to the resume of an experienced worker are the same rules that apply to the resume of a summer student.

Prepare a Compelling Cover Letter

Your cover letter should be clear, concise and to the point. Attached is one of the cover letters that James prepared. It should be addressed to a specific person by name.

It absolutely must not contain any spelling errors. Nothing is more off-putting to the prospective employer. It gives the impression that you don’t care. Not the right message if you want the job.

You should include your availability in terms of start and finish dates, any periods when you may not be available, and whatever limitations you might have in terms of the time of day you can start and finish. If you want a job cutting the greens at the local golf club, you’d better be prepared to start at the crack of dawn. Conversely, if
you are applying to be a dishwasher at the local restaurant, don’t expect to be home by 10:00pm.

Identify your Boss for the Summer

One way to look for a job is to look for advertisements and postings. Good but not very creative. And don’t forget, once a position has been posted, you are
automatically going to be in competition with everyone else who applies. Better to get yourself in front of your next boss before they start looking for summer students. But how do you do this?

James and I sat down together a couple of weeks ago to identify some target employers. We agreed that a summer job close to home would be better than one which was difficult to get to. Our first source of data was the local telephone directory. Hudson is a small village of 5,000 inhabitants, yet we identified the following list of prospective employers:

6 restaurants
4 fast food outlets
9 retail stores
3 gas stations
2 video stores
6 golf courses
8 landscaping companies
3 garden centres
2 moving companies
2 health clubs
2 swimming pool companies
1 yacht club
3 painting companies
2 public pools
1 marina

We decided that there were so many potential employers that we would have to prioritize our approaches.

Having set the priorities, one telephone call to each target organization was enough to establish who was the most appropriate person to receive the resume. Nobody objected to giving out the information and some even asked who was asking and that they would look out for the resume – initiative being immediately rewarded.

Be Impressive at Interviews

There’s one piece of advice that you’ll hear time and time again from people who conduct interviews: Be yourself and be completely honest in your answers. An experienced interviewer will know right away if you are stretching the truth …and you are almost guaranteed not to get a job offer. If you don’t know the answer, then say so, but let the interviewer know how you would go about finding the answer. If you don’t have specific experience, don’t claim that you do. The next question may well probe into your depth of experience and you will be caught out. There goes your credibility as well as your chances of getting the job.

By Alan Davis

A few other simple pointers:

  • Arrive on time – arriving way too early can be as off-putting to the interviewer as arriving late.
  • Make and maintain eye contact – not to the point of staring, but if this doesn’t come easily to you then practice it with family and friends.
  • Give a firm handshake. Not a death grip but again, if you are unsure of yourself, practice beforehand.
  • Speak slowly and with clarity. When my kids speak to me at half their normal speed, I start to understand what they are saying. The odds are that you will be interviewed by someone from my generation, not from yours.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer and let them know that you are interested in the job and ask when you are likely to hear back.
  • Don’t hesitate to follow up if you haven’t heard back. Keep yourself top of mind.
  • Be polite and very persistent.

The Result

Within a week, James achieved his short-term objective. He now delivers pizzas around town. The only downside that we’ve noticed so far is the faint whiff of “eau de poutine” in the family car!

Our next challenge is to land the summer job. We are now launching into this endeavour with a great deal of confidence, having validated that it is a proven methodology.

The following web sites may be helpful:


About the Author…

Alan Davis is a 25-year veteran in the recruiting and selection arena and has managed many recruiting campaigns, both in Canada and overseas. He developed many highly innovative recruiting products, including “The Recruiting SWAT Team” and “The Strategic Recruiting Initiative”. A high point in his exciting career, he designed and managed a Canadian Astronaut Recruitment Campaign for the Canadian Space Agency.


Alan has been a speaker at many conferences across Canada on various recruitment and selection issues.

Cover Letter

538 Main Road
Hudson, Quebec
J0P 1J0
January 4th, 2004
Mr. Jack Crombie
Centre DO-IT
490 Main Road
Hudson, Québec
J0P 1J0,

Dear Mr. Crombie,

I am writing to you because I am interested in working for you at your store. I am a responsible, well-organized and mature teenage boy. I am fluently bilingual, and have great communication skills. I also recently got my driver’s license. I am seeking a part time job in any position you may have available. I have no previous experience working at your store, but I am certain that I would enjoy working for you. If you wish to get a hold of me, my phone number is (450) 555-1234.

Yours sincerely,

James Davis


Curriculum Vitae – James Davis

Address: 538 Main Road
Hudson Heights, Quebec.
Phone: (450) 555-1234 Cell: (514) 555-4321
Date of Birth: July 16, 1986
Languages: English and French (written and spoken)
Holder of Driver’s License


I am a mature, well-adjusted teenager with a passion for sports. I have proven leadership ability, am a team player and can work well with others. I can communicate easily in both official
languages. I am responsible and well-organized, and have good communication skills.


  • 2003 to date: John Abbott College – Creative Arts Literature and Languages program
  • 1998 to 2003: Hudson High School (Honors) – Advanced French
  • 1991 to 1998: Ecole Primaire Harwood. – Langue Maternelle French School.


    • June 2003 to August 2003: Harwood Golf Club – Assistant to Junior Professional
    • February 2002 to December 2002: Melo-Grano Restaurant – Dishwasher & Kitchen Assistant
    • June 2002 to August 2002: Falcon Golf Club – Chef
    • June 2001 to August 2001: Harwood Golf Club – Golf Operations
    • May 2001 to June 2001: Whitlock Golf Club – Golf Operations
    • June 2000 to August 2000: Whitlock Golf Club – Golf Operations

Achievements and Community Activities:

    • Town of Hudson Award for Contribution to Athletics 2002-2003
    • Hudson High School – Senior Male All Round Athlete Award 2002-2003 Raised $6,000 for Habitat for Humanity through a 100-hole Golf Marathon – May 2003
    • GMAA – Golf Champions team 2002-2003
    • GMAA – Touch Football Champions team 2002-2003
    • Red Cross Lifesaving – Bronze Medallion August 2002
    • GMAA – Golf Champions team 2001-2002
    • GMAA – Golf Bronze Award 2001-2002
    • Volunteer Harwood Golf Club – helper to the pro (Chris Ruiter) July to August 2001
    • Hudson High School – Junior All Round Male Athlete Award 2000-2001
    • Hudson High School – Most Dedicated Junior Athlete Award 1999-2000
    • Hudson High School – Athletics Student Life Merit Award 1999-2000
    • Hudson High School – Swimming Team Player Award 1999-2000
    • Hudson High School – Bantam Boys Basketball Team Player Award 1999-2000

January 2004

    • Hudson High School – Bantam Soccer Team Most Improved Player Award 1998-1999

Curriculum Vitae – James Davis

January 2004

    • Hudson High School – Junior All Round Male Athlete Award 1998-1999
    • Hudson/St. Lazare Soccer Club – Under 16 All Round Athlete 2000-2001
    • Presqu’Ile Hockey Pee Wee A Team – Assistant Captain 1999-2000
    • Hudson/St. Lazare Soccer Club Peewee Team – Captain Summer 1999
    • Presqu’Ile Hockey Atom A Team – Captain 1997-1998
    • Presqu’Ile Hockey Atom B Team – Most Improved Player 1996-1997 (rookie year)
    • Volunteer St. Mary’s Church – Reader 2000 to present
    • Volunteer St. Mary’s Church Sunday School – Assistant Teacher1998-2000
    • Volunteer Waiter: St. Mary’s and St. James’ Churches – 1998-2000

Team Sports:

      • John Abbott College Golf Team – 2003 to present
      • Hudson High School – Athletic Council
      • Hudson High School – Golf 2002-2003
      • Hudson High School – Touch Football 2002-2003
      • Hudson High School – Golf 2001-2002
      • Hudson High School – Badminton, Basketball, Rugby, Soccer & Swimming Teams
      • Hudson- St. Lazare Soccer Club – Division 2 Summer 2003
      • Hudson- St. Lazare Soccer Club – Intercity Team Summer 2002
      • Hudson- St. Lazare Soccer Club – Intercity Team Summer 2001
      • Hudson- St. Lazare Soccer Club – Under 16 Team 2000-2001
      • Presqu’Ile Hockey – Pee Wee A Team 1999-2000
      • Hudson/St. Lazare Soccer Club – Peewee Team Summer 1999
      • Presqu’Ile Hockey – Pee Wee A Team 1998-1999
      • Presqu’Ile Hockey – Atom A Team 1997-1998
      • Presqu’Ile Hockey – Atom B Team 1996-1997 (rookie year)

Hobbies, Interests:

    • Sports
    • Travel
    • Movies
    • Photography
    • Art
    • Music
    • Reading
    • Extreme Sports

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