If your teen is still searching frantically for a summer job to do between beach trips and BBQs, we’ve got good news: The employment forecast looks sunny.

In 2017 alone, summer student employment increased by an impressive 4.1%, according to Statistics Canada. And StatsCan’s May 2018 Labour Force Survey indicates youth employment is holding steady compared to last year.

In other words, the opportunities are out there, and a strategic approach can turn a summer job into a great career move.

Want to help make your teen’s summer job search a success? Pass along these five tips:

1. Tap into your strengths

The ideal summer job aligns personality with goals, advises Lee Weisser, a senior career counsellor and life coach at Careers By Design in Toronto. We all have an intuitive sense about who we are and what we can do. But identifying our attributes and communicating them to prospective employers is a completely different animal.

To prepare, start by interviewing yourself:

  • What are your key personality traits and personal strengths? Think of how you would describe yourself and what makes you feel most confident.
  • What are your skills, and what are you known for? This could include academic strengths as well as hobbies, sports and other activities.
  • What else can you bring to the table? A sunny personality, eagerness to work in a team, strong organization skills and problem-solving all help you in the workplace. They mean that even without much work experience, you still have something valuable to offer employers.

Use the answers to create a short description of your skills, outlining who you are and what kind of job you want. You can share that description during your job search to help build a network of possibilities.

2. Narrow your focus

Though it can be tempting — especially in a tight job market — to apply, apply, apply, a scattershot approach can actually be counterproductive. So says Shellie Deloyer, founder of Bright Futures Education & Career Coaching in Toronto.

Focus instead on quality over quantity. That way, you can clarify your desired position and approach, write a stronger resumé and cover letter, and perhaps land a job in your chosen area of interest.

3. Show up in person

Walking into a retail store to speak with a manager and ask for an application instantly helps you stand out.

“My dad runs a hardware store, and they always hire summer students,” Deloyer says. “This year, nobody approached him with an application directly, even though there’s a school up the street!”

Stopping by in person gives managers a rare chance to put a face to your application, and a quick chat can show off the people skills that could land you the gig.

4. Discover other paths to career development

While it would be great to make some extra money, a paying job isn’t the only way to work towards your goals this summer. The right volunteer gig can be a great addition to your resumé, especially if it gives you relevant, hands-on experience. (It can also satisfy volunteer hours requirements, if your school has them.)

Or, you can spend the summer researching career paths.

“Informational interviews and job shadowing are two of the most underused, yet highly valuable, job-search strategies,” says Deloyer. The connections you make along the way might just help you in the future.

5. Stay positive and keep looking

The job hunt can be challenging, but opportunities can happen at any time. For example, a job filled in June may be open again by July, due to employee turnover. Some jobs, such as those at many county fairs, are only available later in the summer. Keep networking to stay informed about opportunities as they come up.

In the meantime, focus on the things that keep you feeling positive, such as time with family and friends, creativity and exercise. You never know when one of those activities could lead to the summer job you’ve been looking for.

  • Parents: There’s also still time to help your kids save for college or university. On top of their summer job earnings and your savings, the government will even give you free money. Find out about registered education savings plans.