Need a Summer Job? Here's What to Look For.

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A summer job can be an opportunity to reset your career. A number of companies have seasonal positions open, and those can lead to full-time, permanent offers -- or they can help you gain valuable experience that helps you get hired elsewhere.

If you're looking to make a change or try something new, seasonal employment may be an excellent choice. You can take a job that has an expiration date and be able to walk away without any hard feelings if it doesn't work out. And, of course, if things go well, you may be able to move into something more permanent.

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What types of job are available?

Summer positions tend to be offered at companies where the warmer months are the busy season. An obvious example would be hotels, restaurants, and activities in warm-weather travel destinations -- think anyplace that gets busier when people have time off.

Some of those places -- say, the theme-park region in Central Florida -- are busy year-round and only staff up slightly. Other destinations, like the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod, or any other place that has a beach and four seasons, may add a lot of extra workers once the weather gets warm.

Another major source for hiring is retailers that get busier during better weather. Lowe's has traditionally added tens of thousands of workers beginning in the spring.

That happens because nicer weather means gardening, home repairs, and even an increase in construction, because many jobs can't be done during the coldest periods in some parts of the country. Lowe's isn't the only retailer hiring, but it's a good choice because the company has traditionally found permanent roles for many of its seasonal employees.

Then there are the jobs at businesses that only operate during the summer. Camps are an obvious source of employment -- and a way to get at least low-level management experience without much of a background in the field. But there are also lots of seasonal businesses, such as pool clubs, golf courses, and even water parks.

Be a little picky

It's a very tight job market, and companies are competing for a limited pool of workers. That gives workers leverage to find a position that won't just pay well but will also help them meet their career needs, or at least put a toe in the water toward a new profession.

Peak hiring season is upon us, but there may be more openings later into the season than in previous years because of the very constrained labor market. Be picky. Look around and do your homework. Don't just work for money but find a position that will count as a step -- even a small one -- toward meeting your career goals.

Selling ice cream on the boardwalk or working at a camp may not be your end destination. The first, however, can teach you a lot about retail, while the second might let you know if you really want to work with kids. You have leverage, at least more than usual, so use it and pick a job that helps you either advance your skills or cross a career option off your list.

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Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Lowe's. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.