When Carol and her mom came to see me last summer, they were discouraged. Carol, a 19-year old college sophomore, had emailed more than 300 resumes to prospective employers for summer jobs and she had not been called for even one interview. Not only that: None of the 300 companies bothered to reply…not even with an autoresponder that said, “Thank you for sending your resume.”
You do not need me to tell you that today is not a great time to be looking for work, especially if you are a teenager. Potential employers have a pool of hundreds of qualified individuals from which to choose. Not only is competition for jobs especially fierce right now, one human resources director confided that nowadays, they receive upwards of 25,000 emailed resumes for every job posted online. Compare that to a few years ago when an ad in the “Wanted” section of a major newspaper would net approximately 300 resumes per job. So…if your resume is one of those 25,000, fuhgeddaboutit.
If the jobs picture is so bleak, then what’s a hardworking kid to do? Here are a few ideas that can help you generate income so that you can start saving for that new computer, a car, or college:
1. Start an errand service. This one is a no-brainer. How many mom’s in your neighborhood could use your help when it’s time to get ready for dinner and they need something from the store? Six? Twelve? Two dozen? If you charge $15 or $20 per errand and you can run four errands in one hour, you could earn $80 an hour! (Can you think of a regular job that would pay that well?) Here’s how to get started: Order some free business cards from http://www.vistaprint.com . You only have to pay for shipping! Your business card should describe your services—for example, “Errands for Moms” or “Last Minute Errands” Your tag line can say, “When you don’t have time to run to the store” or “Helping you get those last-minute supplies” or something like that.
Be sure to put your contact information: name, phone number, email and/or Twitter/Facebook info. Specify what dates/times you are available: Monday – Friday 4 – 7 pm; Saturday 9 – 3 pm; Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 pm or “Errands4U” or “Last Minute Errand Service.” You get the idea.
Distribute your business cards by posting them on bulletin boards at your local supermarket, health food store, laundromat, and coffee shop.
Two things are really important: Return your phone calls/emails right away. Call each customer within 24 hours of your first errand to ask if she is happy with your service. Offer to call her every day at a certain time to check in.
Finally, ASK FOR REFERRALS. After your customer thanks you, say something like, “You’re welcome. You know, I am just getting started and if you are happy that you can call on me for last-minute errands, would you please give my card to two of your friends and let them know about my service? It would really help to spread the word.”
Carol launched her errands service last summer and by the end of the month, she had banked more than $2,000! Not bad for a 19-year old who was starting to think she was unemployable.
2. Start a pet-sitting, dog-walking, car washing, baby sitting, clutter cleaning, or garden clean-up service. All you need to do is follow the same steps and you can start earning income in just a few days.
3. Keep a journal called “News and Goods.” Write down one good thing that happens to you every day. Whenever someone pays you a compliment, write it down. Before long, you’ll notice that you feel stronger, happier, and more confident than ever before…plus you’ll have money in your bank account that you could not have earned any other way.
4. Believe in yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Who knows? Like my client Carol, you might discover that today’s tough job market turns out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you.