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Summer job outlook is cloudy

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The search for a summer job won't be any easier this year, despite nascent signs of a recovery.

Almost half of hiring managers -- 47% -- don't plan to hire any seasonal workers this summer, said a survey from hourly job site SnagAJob.com. That's about the same as last summer's 46%.

The majority of respondents, 54%, said they think it will be "difficult" for teens to find a summer job this year. The survey did not ask that question last year.

"Just like last summer, employers have a wide range of [applicants] this year," said Shawn Boyer, chief executive of SnagAJob.com. "When managers can pick from the cream of the crop, it makes it tough for those applying."

Teens were likely hoping for a sunnier outlook this year, since 2009's summer job openings were slim amid a churning economy. But even as the recession has begun to abate this year, the unemployment rate remains at 9.7%.

Anyone who does score a summer job shouldn't expect to make much more than last year. According to the survey, the average summer job will still pay $10.20 an hour -- the same as last summer.

Although prospects for summer may not have improved much this year from last year, the good news is that 53% of the managers surveyed do plan to hire for the season.

According to the report, 29% of hiring managers say they'll hire the same number of summer workers as last year, while 6% said they will hire more workers than last year.

About 18% of managers said they will hire fewer employees than last year, versus 23% who planned to cut back last summer.

Start the summer search soon

In such a difficult climate, teens and college students should begin to search for summer gigs over the next several weeks, said SnagAJob's Boyer.

"If you wait until late May or June, you're behind the eight-ball," he said. "You might be in school until the summer, but you can offer to work weekends or nights right now. Cast the net wide."

Although 53% of the survey's respondents said teens will primarily be competing against other young people for summer gigs, 29% said that college kids will see the most competition from adults who are vying for burger-flipping jobs due to "economic pressures."

In order to stand out from more experienced counterparts, Boyer said teens should be flexible in their scheduling availability; play up their energy and excitement; bring 2-3 questions to ask the employer; and send a handwritten thank-you note after each interview.

"You want to project maturity, so speak well and overdress for the interview," he said. "Even if the uniform is T-shirts and shorts, come in wearing a suit and a smile that say: 'Hire me.'"

The survey also asked managers to share some of their own interview tips. Among the quirkier advice: "Take the ring out of your ear, and cover up the tattoos." Also: "Don't text during the interview." To top of page

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