You're Looking For a Job, Right?

I've wanted to do a post like this for eons. Elsewhere, when the end of the school year was upon us, I'd post a friendly reminder of the dos and don'ts of job seeking. Other managers would chime in with more advice and it turned out to be a good resource for that little bit of the Net.

Now, I'm on the other side, and seeing even more stuff that just makes me scratch my head. So, today, a little instructional piece on applying for jobs.

1. Be Prepared

Sounds simple, right? It is, but so many don't even get to this part, applying for jobs willy nilly. Having a pen is just the tip of the iceberg, though it's better to have two or three pens, honestly.

Being prepared means you establish a game plan BEFORE you go out job seeking. What kind of job do you want? What hours are you willing to work? If looking for retail/restaurant, which places are your favorites? If you don't have a vehicle, how will you get there? If you'll be taking a bus, when does it run? What are the hours of operation and can you work those? What are the minimum requirements of the job?

The key here is to avoid walking into an establishment, asking if they're hiring, then in the next breath "what do you sell?" A prospective employer wants to know that you want THEIR job, not just A job.

2. Do Your Research.

Find out about those places you plan to apply. What are the hours of operation? What is the going rate? What kind of experience do you need for the job openings?
This is where the internet is your friend. Spending a few minutes or an hour looking gives you an edge over the people who just walk like mentioned in the above paragraph!

3. Be Prepared, Part Two

What do I mean? I mean have all your personal facts, phone numbers and dates readily available. If you don't have a good memory, make a 'cheat sheet' of where you worked, supervisor's names and phone numbers and even the addresses of those jobs (some applications do ask for full address). If you need to, write up a brief summary of what you did. The point is that you look like someone who is efficient, who turns in a complete job application.

4. Go It Alone

I can't stress this one enough. If five people walk in together, asking for a job for one of them, it gives the impression that the four others will be hanging out visiting the person who wants the job.

Similarly, if Mom or Dad is hovering over Junior while he's applying (or worse yet, asking all the questions for Junior), then the hiring manager is wondering if Mom is going to call and say Junior has a family reunion and can't work today, or Junior has to do his term paper or the worst of all, Junior has the SOLs this week and needs to study because he didn't know they were coming! (True story, that one!)

You can ask your advice and for suggestions, in fact, it is a great idea to ask friends and family about their jobs. If you're Mom or Dad, please stay in the car if you need to bring anyone to apply for jobs. I know it is hard to believe, but they will grow up and move out of your house someday-this is that first step to independence.

5. Dress For Success.

I don't mean that you have to go out in a three piece suit to apply for a job. However, some thought should go into what you wear. The first impression you make is a lasting impression. It used to be that we'd say "wear what you'd wear to a religious service" as a guide, but that's not a good rule of thumb nowadays.

Make a uniform of things that are clean, well pressed and somewhat conservative. There will be time later to show your unique style, if the job allows for it. My suggestion? A button down shirt (unwrinkled) or polo shirt and a nice pair of khakis or slacks. Jeans are okay if they're free from holes, rips, tears and aren't faded. Clean shoes or sneakers. If they have laces, they need to be tied. Those clothes need to look SHARP.

On that note, clothes are important, but hygiene is even more important. It should go without saying, but brushed teeth and a clean, soapy smell is valuable. Note I didn't say cologne/perfume. If you do go that route, just a touch of it is all you need.

6. Have Confidence

Walk purposefully, with your head up. Make eye contact. Speak clearly. If that's too hard for you, PRACTICE with an observer who isn't afraid to give you constructive advice.

When you walk in that door, ask "Who do I see about applying for a job?" It makes a better impression than "Y'all hiring, right?" Don't be disappointed if they're not hiring or they do so online-many companies do nowadays. Politely thank the person for the information.

You've done your preparation, so you're not applying to companies that you're not qualified for, so you should have a reasonable chance of being considered.

7. No Gum

When you want to make a good impression, your mouth should be empty of gum or candy

8. Shut The Cell Phone Off

Finish any conversations before you walk into the building and please, please, please do not text while you're talking to or waiting for anyone. If you're there filling out the application, just fill out the application!

9. Use Your Manners

Please and Thank You go a long way in the work force. Even if you don't get to apply, use them. When you do speak to anyone, use them often when appropriate.

10. If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try, Again

In this economy, there are many job seekers out there. You need to make yourself stand out in a good way-and these pointers should help. That said, the first job you apply for usually isn't the one you get. Keep your head up and keep trying. Shake off the No and focus on the Yes.

Oops, forgot to add this one:

11. You're Only Interested in Getting ONE Job

There is nothing worse than walking into a prospective employer with a stack of applications in hand when you ask to apply for a job with them. It tells them you don't care where you get a job, you're desperate. Use a folder or an attache if you must carry multiple applications, but avoid that situation at all costs.

Also, fill the application out on premises whenever possible. There have been many times when a gentleman has returned with an application completed in flowery, girly handwriting with an illegible signature at the bottom. An employer questions whether the prospective employee will be able to do the job if they can't complete the application themselves.

That's my lesson for today. If you get that interview, remember these rules and apply accordingly. One addition here: send a thank you email or note. It helps.

Good luck!

Oh, and check out the comments. The lovely Saffa Chick has been reading my mind and gives some follow up pointers on what to do if you get that interview!


Mike Golch said…
hope that you are having a good day to day. Hugs and Blessings. Mike g. said that( It's an A.A.thing)
Saffa Chick said…
How about a few pointers from a more corporate industry...

Always turn up for your interview on time. 5 minutes early or late is fine, but phone if you will be later than that. And don't turn up half an hour early - who do you think you are?! Am I supposed to drop what I'm doing to see you when you're that early? If you're really early then walk around the bloke until it is time to "arrive".

Oh and interviewers? So not cool to keep an candidate waiting ages when they turned up on time. It sends the message that you're either rotten at time management or that you really don't give a damn about people. Also - remember you have a candidate in the office. I once had an interviewer pop out of the interview to do something and he. never. came. back! When I tracked him down he was having a system crisis but that was no excuse to forget about me.

Always wear a suit, even if you know the company dress code is casual. They won't think less of you for being snappily dressed, but they might be insulted if you make no effort.

Tie your hair up or get it as tidy as you can. Minimal makeup. Keep your boobs well covered and take out all unusual jewelery (if in doubt remove all jewelery). Wear low heels and opaque hosiery or slacks. You're selling your brain not your body.

Brush up on your techie knowledge. There are plenty of "Tech Interview Questions" out there on the net. Print them off and answer them and understand the answers. You'd be amazed how often these questions are actually brought out in an interview and you have to fly by the seat of your pants. In the Real World we never have to work like this but it's still used in interviews.

Don't give too much personal information. If they ask you about your hobbies keep them as ordinary as possible. Being into breeding snakes or cockroach racing or having the record for drinking the most alcohol without hurling at your local pub is info best kept to yourself until you land the job! If you can't think of anything tame then say "reading" and brush up on a novel review or two in case they ask what you're reading. Rather they think you're boring than a freak. Be friendly but not forward.

Some questions turn up often in interviews like "What would you say is your main weakness?". Think of something innocuous like "I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I like to make sure my code works before I hand it in." They don't really want an exciting answer.

Hmm what else? I always have a clean tidy copy of my resume on me because sometimes the interviewer has been given a nasty faxed copy. If I see his copy is bad I hand him mine so that later he's not turned off by something like faded text!

Don't worry if you feel you are suppressing your "self" in an interview. If you get the role then you can gently ease back into who you want to be... maybe after the probation period!

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