You can find Part 1 of this miniseries here.
I was talking about summer employment the other day with a few friends, and it got me thinking about my first article on the subject. I thought I’d made most of the appropriate points, but it occurred to me that I very much wrote it from the point of view of my upbringing and my inbred knowledge about how one is supposed to go about these things.
Bad move, sista! Clearly, not everyone had “professionalism” drilled into them from birth – not everyone applied at the grocery store in grade 9 wearing a little skirt suit. This is clear to me, because now that I have a full-time job, I see the hoards of people “cold-calling” our store to ask for work. And guess what honey? They ain’t all prepared.
So just in case you’re in any way unsure about the teensy details of how to approach your job hunt, look no further! Let’s go back to basics.
1. Exude Confidence!
This may not be an easy feat, but keeping up the facade of enthusiasm and confidence throughout those long days of job hunting could make all the difference between employment and another day without work. Confidence comes through in your smile, your walk, your body language and your speech. Stay perky. A potential employer should never get the impression that you’re tired and bored, even if it is 4PM on a Friday.
Shake hands with as many people as possible. Thank everyone you speak to for their time. Be prepared for absolutely anything: to fill out an application, to answer a few questions about the company to be added to your application file, even to have a full-fledged interview on the spot! Don’t let anything phase you – always say yes.
Your walk and talk should be chock-full of positivity and strength – check your disappointment, fear of rejection, fatigue, and boredom at the door. No employer wants to see that! This is all about making an amazing first impression, which (believe me) actually matters a lot.
Having confidence applies, perhaps even more so, if you do get asked for an interview. Congrats! You’ve made a first impression, and now the employer wants to know if that impression holds up. Trust me, an interview does not mean you’ve gotten the job. They’re trying to get to know you, so lay on the charm, thick. Smile, shake hands. Be prepared to answer questions about the company and why you want to work there – do your research!
Stay calm, no matter what, and be a pro: if they ask you questions that, in your case, might have negative answers (in respect to this job), use the no, but technique.
“Do you have any experience in the restaurant business?”
“No, but I have several years worth of experience in customer service and sales, and I am a quick learner.”
Final points: smile a lot, let nothing phase you, be prepared for anything.
2. Care for Your Appearance
Remember when we were talking about first impressions? Well, your appearance (clothes & hygiene) does most of the talking before your voice can get a word in edgewise. Whether that’s fair or not, I don’t know, but that’s just the way it is, that’s the way our brains work. I’ve seen people walk into the store in baseball caps and baggy jeans, miniskirts and tank tops – that’s not the way to do it! Even just putting on a decent shirt and pants and filling your backpack with resumes isn’t enough. The way you look says it all about how much you care.
Dress nicely. I always dress in business casual attire: a pair of dress pants or an appropriate skirt with a cute blouse and you’re set! Make sure to put your resumes into a clipboard or folder so they don’t get bent, and bring along a suitably professional-ish bag and shoes. This outfit might seem extreme to some, but it will guarantee that you look good and seem dedicated. Better to be over-dressed than under-dressed!
As for hygiene, again: stay professional. Don’t have chipping nail polish or dirty hair. Make sure there’s nothing in your teeth and that you don’t have bad breath! No mud-soaked hems or frayed pant legs, no stains on your clothes or bag. Look neat, tidy, and professional and you’ll have a much better shot at getting the job.
3. Check Your Resume
I skimmed over resumes in my first post, but I think they need a bit more of a close-up. Some tips:
- No more than 2 pages
- Your contact information should be fairly large, accurate, and at the top of each page of the resume
- On my resume, the sections proceed as follows: contact information, education, achievements, skills, work experience, volunteer experience, extra-curriculars
- Write “References available upon request” – many jobs don’t require references, and they take up quite a bit of space on your resume
- Provide a short description of each of the jobs included in your work experience – highlight any benefits (ex. needed to work independently) and responsibilities that each job entailed
- Make sure your resume is accurate and completely true. If you say you’re bilingual in English and French, you should be prepared to give the interview in French. This (intimidatingly) happened to me at my most recent interview! Don’t fabricate or exaggerate. Lying is not a good way to start a new job!
- Get someone you trust to look over your resume before printing a pile: preferably someone with a job or a lot of experience!
Here are a few more resume-writing resources:
4. Pay Attention to Details
Last but certainly not least, pay close attention to details.
- Is your contact information up to date? There’d be nothing worse than getting an interview request to an email you never check anymore, or having your baby sister answer the telephone for an important call. Make sure to include the most up-to-date information.
- Did you include your email and appropriate phone number? Preferably, give out your cell phone number so that you can always be “on call” for employers. Your email is very important too, many times employers will send you an email rather than call, just to see if you’re still interested in the position. So make sure you’re not using firstname.lastname@example.org on your resume! It might have been your email for so long that you don’t realize the problem, but trust me: there’s a problem. Open a new email account: for example firstname.lastname@gmail/yahoo/etc. Something simple, relevant and professional.
- Did you record a professional answering machine message? More often than not, employers will get your answering machine – so, first of all it would be a good idea to set one up! Next, make sure it’s not your friends shouting, you singing, or any other manner of weirdness. Record an appropriate + boring message: “Hi, you’ve reached (name) at (phone number). I’m sorry I missed your call, but if you leave your name and number I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks for calling!”
- Is your resume up-to-date? Did you include that recent volunteer work you did or the award you just got? Did you make sure to remove any expired certifications? Get rid of irrelevant or very old information?
How do you approach the job hunt? Does it freak you out, or are you fairly confident in your abilities? Any tips to share with the rest of us? Is there something you always make sure to do, or not to do when you meet a new employer? What do you usually wear for the job hunt? What’s your foolproof technique for getting a job!?