Young job seekers face tough market for summer jobs, survey finds

by Stacey Brucia

Teens and college students looking for a summer job might have a tougher time landing a gig this year compared to summers past, according to a recent survey.

Nearly half (46%) of hourly hiring managers with responsibility to recruit summer employees will not be recruiting this year, according to a February survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers commissioned by hourly job Web site  To compound the problem, teens and young adults can anticipate far fewer openings among businesses with available positions.

Nearly one quarter of hiring mangers (23%) say that while  they will be hiring, they will do so at levels lower than last year:  Almost half (48%) of these managers intend to hire at rates between 10 and 50 percent below last year’s seasonal hiring levels.  This figure has jumped 12 percentage points from 2008 (36%).  

“We’d be leading teens astray if we told them anything other than the fact that it will be a very tough summer for high school and college students to find seasonal jobs,” said Shawn Boyer, CEO of  “The reality is that there will be fewer summer positions available, and more people are out of work each month, which is increasing pressure on the summer job market.”

Hiring managers report that young adults will be facing increased competition:  

* 29% of hiring managers say that a youth’s greatest competition for a seasonal position comes from workers who recently entered the workforce because of economic pressures (up 9 percentage points from last year).  And as this group is a larger competitive factor, fewer hiring managers say that a youth’s biggest competition will come from another teen or college student like themselves – a drop of 7 percentage points from last year (61% last year, now 54%).
* 73% of hiring managers expect more applications this summer compared to last summer.  This is a significant increase from the 48% of hiring managers who anticipated more applications when comparing summer 2008 to summer 2007.   

While this scenario may look bleak, Boyer offers some tips to teens and college students looking for a summer job:

* Apply now.  Do not wait until school gets out.  While 74% of hiring managers with available positions expect to have their positions filled by May, this is a case where proactive job seekers will have a leg up on their completion.
* Cast your net wide.  Let family and friends know that you are seeking a summer job, and do not limit yourself to one or two opportunities – this is not the year to be picky.
* Teens should consider establishments that typically begin hiring at 16 years old.  These include fast-food restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores.   
* College students should return to places where they have been employed previously.  According to the survey, hiring managers say that 65% of their seasonal staff will be returning workers.  Make contact now with a previous employer to see if they might need you again.

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