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I touched on the importance of part-time jobs on resumes in my previous post, but I wanted to devote a little bit more time to this topic because it is one that I feel strongly about. There are many benefits to working a part-time job while in college (besides the extra spending money it provides), and a lot of these benefits pertain to post-graduate job searches. Here are some reasons why part-time jobs can translate into full-time job search success:

  1. You can establish work experience prior to graduation. Many students graduate college with little to no actual work experience. Those who have worked part-time jobs during college have a leg up on students who did not. Job candidates who leave the “Prior Work Experience” section on their applications blank are not attractive to employers. Yes, leadership roles in campus organizations can require as much dedication and work as a part-time job, but for many employers, it is no substitute for real-world work experience. If you work a part-time job all four years of college, that is four years of work experience that you bring to the table and can include in your resume. Since most entry-level positions require no prior work experience, a job applicant with four years of experience will have a significant advantage over most other applicants.
  2. It provides you with great “power stories” for interviews. In every job interview, the interviewer is going to ask you the question, “Tell me about a time when you….” Your part-time job experience provides you with numerous stories to share with the employer for this type of question. I have worked for The Home Depot as a part-time associate for four years and I have used stories from that experience in every interview I have ever been in. This work experience provides you with great real-world, applicable stories for you to share with a possible employer that demonstrates your leadership skills and work ethic.
  3. Part-time jobs help you to identify your strengths (and weaknesses). This benefit actually helps both you and the employer. Employers want to get the most out of their employees by placing them in positions that capitalize on their strengths. When you gain experience working a part-time job, you quickly learn what your strengths and weaknesses are. For me, I discovered that my strengths were customer service skills and my ability to read and understand company metric reports. Once I identified these strengths, I was able to communicate these strengths to employers that I interviewed with. Being able to identify and develop your strengths in a part-time job shows employers that you are cognizant of your abilities and that you care about your personal development—both attractive traits for employers! But part-time jobs can also help you identify your weaknesses. This is important for a couple of reasons. For one, employers almost always ask, “What is one of your weaknesses?” or something like that, in an interview. If you hesitate or don’t have anything to say, the employer either thinks you’re a narcissist or that you haven’t taken the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Also, discovering your weaknesses while working part-time is much better than discovering them while searching for a full-time position. This allows you to work to make that weakness a strength.

For students interested in seeking part-time employment, be sure to check DawgLink for employment opportunities. Also, it is not too soon to be thinking about summer employment. The Career Center will be hosting a Summer Employment Fair on April 9, 2010 from 10am-2pm at the Tate Grand Hall, so mark your calendars!