Wanted: Summer jobs

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Albertsons supermarket said “no.” So did Macy’s department store and a local grocer.

But 16-year-old Lila Woloshin hasn’t given up on getting a summer job. Now she’s working on an application for part-time work at the local Petco store.

“Very few of my friends have jobs yet,” Lila said. “I think it’s tougher because, with the economic decline, people are trying to make do with the employees they have.”

Like many of the nation’s high school students, Lila is finding summer jobs are scarcer this year as the U.S. economy slows amid rising oil prices, the housing crunch and tight credit market conditions. The downturn means teens may find themselves competing with unemployed adults at a time businesses are trying to hold down costs.

Still, experts say kids will find both paying and volunteer work this summer — but it may require more persistence than in recent years.

Jim Taylor, vice chairman of the Harrison Group, a market research firm in Waterbury, Conn., points out that there are many jobs earmarked for teens, especially in enterprises that draw teen patrons. These include summer recreation programs, youth services, fast-food restaurants and stores that sell kid-friendly fashion.

Teens have shown a strong desire to work, he added. The Harrison Group’s latest survey found that 46 percent of teenagers have jobs, and they typically put in more than 14 hours a week and take home an average of $474 a month to save for college, invest in electronics or spend on entertainment.

Teens not yet employed or who want to increase their hours will have to do some legwork, Mr. Taylor said.

His advice: “Go out and get a real, grown-up set of shoes. Get rid of the rings — nose rings and other stuff. March up and down the mall with a really good resume. Walk into every store — every store — and say, ‘I’m looking for summer work.’ And you’ll get a job.”

The earlier teens start looking, the better. “If you wait too long, the jobs will be gone,” he said.

Peter Handal, chairman and chief executive of Dale Carnegie Training in Hauppauge, N.Y., said young people who want summer work should maintain a positive attitude in their job searches.

“Companies still are hiring, so there will be opportunities,” he said.

Mr. Handal suggests teens make sure their resumes are as strong as possible.

“It should be succinct, clear — and proofread carefully, because you don’t want to have spelling or grammar mistakes,” he said.

Mr. Handal also suggests teens network with friends and family, “who can introduce job possibilities you hadn’t thought of.”

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