SIKESTON -- As several area school buildings empty this week, business at employment agencies is picking up.
"We had 21 high school/college students come in Tuesday looking for a job," noted Joe Rozier, vice president of Workforce Inc. "School is getting and out and even college students are coming home for the summer and looking for a summer job."
And according to Rozier, there are plenty of summer jobs available.
"Businesses' traditional workers are taking their vacations. In fact, 70 percent of employees take their vacations in the summer so when somebody's gone, you have to have someone to replace them," Rozier noted.
Even though most of the summer jobs offered are entry level positions, Rozier advised job seekers to accept whatever job they're offered because they may not get another offer.
Peggy Gates of Manpower Inc. said Manpower's employment statistics are not broken down specifically by age, but as Manpower's employment Outlook Survey shows, service and retail industries are among those whose employment levels will increase this summer.
"These two industries are well known for employing summer youth, and historically, their number of employees increases during June through August, indicating a rise in youth employment," Gates said.
Locally, Manpower has seen a slight increase in youth applications ages 18-21 -- primarily from recently graduated high school seniors who do not plan to attend college and also college students.
Although more youth seek employment during the summer months than during the school year, throughout the past 15 years, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a decline of employed youth ages 15-17 even during the summer months.
The July labor force participating rate for teens dropped from 65.4 percent to 62.3 percent between 1994 and 2000. This happened even as the unemployment rate for teenagers was falling to its lowest level in three decades, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The DOL points to increasing summer school enrollment as a reason for the decline. Labor statistics also showed teenagers enrolled in school in July increased from 19.5 percent in 1994 to 27 percent in 2000.
There's no doubt the jobs are out there, however, Rozier said, it takes some personal initiative to snatch a job.
"Employers are being more selective. When the economy was doing well, people could transition from job to job easily. Now, employers have the ability to choose who they want," Rozier explained.
So what are employers looking for?
"Employers want employees with a strong work history, even in the youth market accomplishments or academic work better your chances," Rozier said. "You should represent yourself well and make yourself very presentable."
A lot of young people don't realize that a hiring decision about a position is made in the first five minutes of an interview, Rozier said. Attire, appearance and hygiene are absolutely huge in getting a job, he pointed out. ("That means don't wear baseball caps backward and blue jeans down to your knees," he said.) Resumes are good to have, too, he added.
"A lot of people believe there is no longer a competition in the part-time/after school job market, but there is," Rozier assured. "It's not just the teens anymore, the whole community is looking for these jobs, too."
Start early is the best advice Rozier said he can offer job seekers, especially for high school and college students.
The smart ones are going to start looking in February or March, Rozier said. Then they'll come back about a month before school lets out and reacquaint themselves, he said.
"You'd better get after it," Rozier advised. "Because if you don't, somebody else is going to get on that job."