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Dear Electra,

I am a 17 year old high school student. I was wondering if you could be of assistance and help me find the job that I am looking for. I have experience in cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating, and designing. I'm able to work with people who have problems at home or at work. People that I work with often tell me that I am one of the best workers around because I don't let others get to me with a problem that they have with or without me.

I'm really looking for a job in a restaurant like for example: Lyon's, Chevy's, or at a nice hotel would be even better. I really am not looking for a job at a Fast Food Restaurant, I don't know why but I think that I could a lot better. Electra if you can help me in some way with any advice please do. Thank you for your time and patience.

Where do I Start?

It doesn't sound like you NEED any help! You know what you're good at and you know what you want...believe it or not lots of job seekers don't know this about themselves and THAT'S what makes their job search very very difficult.

Make yourself a list of the places you would like to work...go out, drive around, dream big. Then try to find out what kinds of jobs you'd like to start with in those places. For example, would you like to work with the public (in a restaurant, for example) or in a hotel (serving food,working the kitchen, accounting department, front desk, parking cars, helping with conferences.) Decide what you'd do best!

Make a resume that says what you do well and what you have done. I especially like the resume on JobStar for the high school student: This student tells what he does well:

  • Reliable. Willing and able to show up on time.
  • Honest and trustworthy.
  • Good attitude around others. Willing to help, patient with people, do my share, willing to learn.
I think any employer would be impressed with that kind of confidence & focus (you have it too.) Make sure you outline what you have already done: school projects, etc.

Now get ready to make contact!

Most restaurants and hotels accept applications continuously. You can call ahead ask if there is a particular office to come to, or a particular time when applications are accepted. JobStar's Job Hotlines are a good place to begin: first select your region, pick the area code nearest you, then look under "Business" (for restaurant chains) or "Hotels."

Even if your "dream location" doesn't have a job hotline, or a job ad, just pick a time when the business is NOT busy and show up.

Make sure you LOOK the part. Dress well (think about how the other people at the hotel or restaurant look) and practice, before you show up, answering the kinds of questions you'll be asked. (Ask your parents, a teacher or maybe a friend who owns a business to practice with you!)

Why do you want to work here? (Make sure you focus on how you can contribute to THEIR business rather than focusing on benefits to you such as "great pay or nice uniforms.")

What kinds of jobs could you do? (Watch the business a bit and maybe talk to some of the employees if you can. Make sure you have an idea of WHERE they can use you! Employers don't want to have to "place" you...they'd rather you know enough about the business to pick the best department, position for you. They may offer you something altogether different...then it's up to you to decide if it's a good fit.)

Sure, some of the places you picked will say "no." But one of them will say "yes" and you'll have JUST the job you wanted.

When I was in college I got a great job in a deli close to my apartment--good money, nice work, great people, good hours by doing just what I am telling you. I asked my boss later why he hired me: "I liked the way you walked," he said. "Lots of people come in and ask and I say no. But you had energy and focus and that's what I am looking for. It doesn't matter if you worked in a deli before or not. I knew you had the energy and desire to do the job well."

I always remembered that! (And I think I got some of my first library jobs for the same reasons...employers can tell who WANTS to work and who doesn't.)

Do write back and let us know where you're working!


Page last updated: 9:32 AM on 5/22/09