Friday, February 10, 2012

How Bad Do You Really Want A Job? Part One

How Bad Do You Really Want A Job? Part One

Part One of Three—Who Are You?

In the last couple of years I have been very fortunate to coach a few kids on job hunting, follow up and the interview process. In that time I have posted many, many job listings on my Facebook wall to help them out as well as other kids and adults who are seeking employment. I also have spoken with or personally know many people in management/hiring positions who give me feedback on applicants that they see at their jobs. Honestly, a lot of people THINK they are looking hard for a job but really, it is more of a “browsing,” for a job type scenario. How can you really tell which one you are doing? Let me help you with that because it is very important to figure out who you are in the employment seeking scheme of things. Please keep in mind this has been my personal experience as well as the stories told to me by people in hiring positions all over.

The Job Hunter [SERIOUS about getting a job] Vs. The CASUAL Job Browser [Casually committed to finding a job]

*The Job Hunter gets up early in the morning and is dressed and out the door by 8:00a.m. at the very latest. No excuses.
*The CASUAL Job Browser wakes up whenever, gets on Facebook for a couple hours, skypes for a bit, plays a little bit of a video game, chitchats on the phone a while, answers a few emails, might make it out of the house by noon, more likely 1:00p.m.

*The Job Hunter treats LOOKING for a job like it is a FULL TIME JOB, actively seeking and filling out job applications from 8:00a.m. til 4:00-5:00p.m. EVERY. DAY. Stops for an hour lunch somewhere.
*The CASUAL  Job Browser rides around for a while looking for hiring signs,  meets friends at Starbucks for coffee, goes back out looking for signs, goes to the mall to hang with friends a bit and put in a couple of applications.

*The SERIOUS Job Hunter will put in no less than 20 applications per day. Some online, most in person.
*The CASUAL Job Browser will put in 2-6 job apps in one day and take about 2-4hrs to do it. This person will also feel like they have put forth serious effort in looking for a job but in reality this is pretty minimal effort. Most CJB’s don’t realize this because they don’t know any better or have never had anyone coach them or teach them otherwise.

*The Job Hunter will dress to impress, even if it is just McDonalds or a gas station application. Ladies in  a skirt, dress or dress pants, dress shoes…. Gentlemen? Collared shirt and tie, dress pants, dress shoes.
*The Job Browser will wear jeans, t shirts, flip flops, cut off shorts, [yes someone I know wore cut offs to job hunt] mini skirts, low cut, super tight spaghetti strapped tops, etc…

I think you are probably starting to get the picture. The above is not written to criticize or belittle, it is written to educate. Educate who? The Casual Job Browser who thinks he or she is a Serious Job Hunter. I’m not going to point out the problems without offering solutions. I’m also not thinking of anyone in particular when I write this [so if you are getting offended it REALLY isn’t all about you, this is a compilation of self-defeating behavior that I am aware of firsthand myself or through conversations with management/hiring type people. ] Reading this series of blogs can only help you if you take them to heart, don’t take them personal, and put this information to work in your job search.
Let me give you some quotes:
“I walked in to ask for an application and the manager looked at me and said, “You are the most professionally dressed person I have seen coming in here for a job. If you pass an interview you have a job.” ~Job Hunter, in their 6th hour of putting in job apps that day. Currently employed.
“Mrs. Robin, the manager was so impressed I wore a dress shirt and tie. I felt really confident.” ~Job Hunter, currently employed.

“There are no jobs out there Mrs. Robin. I stopped by ___ and _____ and _____ to put in applications after my ball game yesterday but no one is hiring.” Job Browser, who was sweaty and wearing a tank top and shorts and sneakers when she stopped in to those businesses. She stopped to apply as an afterthought, not as someone with the goal of getting a job. I had spoken to one of their managers a few days earlier and they were hiring at that time. Makes me wonder if her appearance had anything to do with it? You be the judge. [currently unemployed by the way.]

“Mrs. Robin? I keep asking around and nobody knows if anyone is hiring. I’m just going to keep an eye on your Facebook page.” ~Job Browser, currently unemployed and has been “looking,” for a job for 2 years now. Depends on others to figure out who is hiring rather than go out and actively apply for jobs with any real consistency. [currently unemployed]

The people that I job coach are NOT people you want to compete with for a job because they are going for excellence and success.  So if you are a Job Hunter and want to see what the employment competition looks like click on the blog link below. If you read this and realized maybe there is a reason why your efforts are not being met with success, you probably need to click the link below as well. There is never any shame in striving to bring more excellence to your situation.

Blessings, y’all!


How Bad Do You Really Want A Job? Part Two

How Bad Do You Really Want A Job? Part Two
Part Two of Three—SELL! SELL! SELL!

If you really want a job and are willing to do what it takes to get one, then keep reading.
If you would like to find a job, but are not willing to do some in depth self-analysis of your strategies and see if there needs to be changes, STOP NOW.
Reading further will not help you.
Often people watch others gain employment and wonder why it’s not them. I want to help you with that if you want to be helped.

The Sale:
Applying for a job begins the minute you walk through the door and ask for an application. From that moment on you are being sized up. Applying for a job is the selling of a product. The product is you, as the next hired employee for that business. If you have poor sales strategies, product packaging and skills, chances are you will remain on the shelf, unsold [READ: Unemployed] while someone else comes in who understands the rules of the game and makes the sale, becoming the next hired employee for that business. Many times a manager will ask the employee who took your application what you looked like or their opinion of you when you came in. [If you did not get to speak to the manager personally] Their employees will usually tell the truth, which means that first impression will make or break you. Make your first contact work FOR you, not AGAINST you. Remember what Mom said: You never have a second chance to make a first impression. Mom is absolutely RIGHT. We will cover some first impression skills later. For now, let’s look at the packaging, also known as your visual first impression and thereafter.

The Packaging:

Hot Topic or Spencer’s applicants- ignore everything I post about appearance and do your own thing.

Tips for ladies:
Hair-CLEAN and brushed, if it looks like you just rolled out of the bed it will most likely be assumed you did. No one wants to hire a slacker, no matter how cute she thinks she Is with her bed head, who is without enough self-motivation to put her best hair forward.
Nails- fingers and toes need to be CLEAN, free of chipped polish and honestly; funky colored polish makes an immature first impression. Tone it down and clean it up. No polish is fine too as long as there is no dirt under the nails.
Make up-Keep it professional. Leave the smoky eyes and neon pink lips for the Club. Less is more.
Outfit-The best possible scenario is a skirt or dress. However, lots of girls nowadays don’t wear them so dress pants are good too. Professional and well fitted=YES! Sexy and skin tight/low cut=NO!
NEVER wear wrinkled or dirty clothes to job hunt.
Do not wear backless, strapless, spaghetti-strapped, belly/chest revealing tops. Skirts should be at the knees or lower. Think Church Sunday best clothes. If the clerk is trying to hand the job application to your chest, chances are your top is too revealing.You want to be taken seriously and sexy won’t achieve that in the workplace.
Shoes should be flats or heels. Flip flops, no matter how dressy, are simply too casual for job hunting. No Crocs or Hobbit shoes, as I like to call them.
Wear coordinating jewelry if you have it. Don’t overdo it on the earrings, bracelets or rings
Bra straps are underwear, not outerwear. Knowing you are wearing a PlaidCheetahPrintHello KittySailorMoon bra will only decrease how seriously you will be taken as a potential employee. Again, underwear is not outerwear, no matter how common the trend is at school/the mall/beach/Club LaVela/among your friends. Go look at what successful people are wearing to good jobs. That stuff ain’t hanging out.
Tips for guys:
Hair- CLEAN and brushed, if it looks like you just rolled out of the bed it will most likely be assumed you did. If it is shaggy and out of control, get a haircut, look your best, because if you don’t, some other dude who took the time to do that will get that job.
Nails- fingernails need to be CLEAN. I cannot stress that enough. I was in Publix the other day and a young man was asking about an application and his nails looked like he had been playing in the dirt. I will be really surprised if he rings up my groceries one day. REAL SURPRISED.
Pants-clean and pressed, DRESS PANTS ONLY. Khakis are fine, make sure you have a belt. A Burger King Manager told me last summer that if someone asks for an application and they are wearing jeans she throws their application in the trash as soon as they leave. What? Burger King? It’s just slinging burgers and fries, right? To that manager, it is more than that, her employees are the ambassadors of her store and she understands that employees can make or break her customer service reputation and sales so she wants people who are taking her job opportunities seriously enough to dress for success. Believe that.
Shirts-must have a collar, clean, pressed WITH A TIE. If the best you can do is a short sleeved polo type shirt then that will have to do but you can bet that your good first impression will disappear from memory in the light of the, “shirt and tie dude,” that walked in after you.
Shoes-Dress shoes, no sneakers, skater shoes, high tops, sandals, tore up shoes, muddy boots, and especially NO FLIP FLOPS. Make sure they are clean dress shoes, and in good condition if possible.
LEAVE THE CAMMO AT HOME. [If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have to write it]
What if you don’t have any clothes/shoes like the ones mentioned? What if you don’t have the money to dress this way? Well, you do have options if you stop and think about it. Borrow them from friends and family. If you told the Pastor of your church you needed clothes fit for job hunting and interviewing; I’d bet money he or she would help you out. Ask your school guidance counselor or principal for help in this area. They sometimes have access to resources you cannot imagine. Goodwill stores have 50% off all clothing on Mondays from noon til close. You can get a dress for 3 bucks and ties for less than that. Most churches have clothing closets for people who need clothes. Call and ask them.
Guys and Girls:
If you have piercings that impede your speech, TAKE THEM OUT. Actually, I would recommend NO facial piercings left in while job hunting. It brings attention to your lifestyle, rather than your merits as a potential employee--unless you are applying for Hot Topic or Spencer’s, in which case go back and read what I said about your appearance if applying for a job there. You want your potential boss to look at you and see YOU, not how you’ve decorated your face. No funky contact lenses. I know a guy who lost his real contacts and all he had left were these crazy gold and black cat eye contacts. He never could get a job wearing those. NEVER.
Brush your teeth, clean out your eyeball corners, [eye boogers] & wear deodorant. Go easy on the perfume/cologne if you wear any. Carry breath mints [not gum] with you and use them throughout the day. Gum chomping is off putting. Brush your teeth again after lunch. It’s very hard to get a job when you have the breath of a dead camel. Take the deodorant with you as you may need to reapply throughout the day.
Got tattoos? Cover them. Again, that brings your potential employer’s attention to your personal lifestyle, rather than your professional potential to represent his company or product well.

The Skills:
Once you have nailed down the packaging of your product [YOU!] then you are ready to put your skills forward and make that first impression. When you enter a business, ask for a job application, not whether or not they are hiring. It is preferable to go to customer service if they have a desk. Smile, make eye contact, be confident. Always thank the person who gave you the app. I would suggest filling out the application in your car and immediately return it or taking it with you and bringing it back the same day. [Maybe fill it out at lunch] This means they have now seen you twice in one day. When you return the app, ask if anyone is available to discuss a possible job interview. This is bold, it sends the message that you are serious and that you are confident in what you are selling. [YOU]. If not, ask when that person is available and a name. Again, THANK the person giving the info. They will remember it and if a manager is watching from nearby or through a one way mirror they will notice your positive, friendly interaction with their employee. If the hiring manager is available ask to speak with him/her. Tell them that you just returned a job application and would like to schedule an interview. A good majority of the time they will say no because they haven’t even seen your app yet. ASK ANYWAY. It will send the message that you are a go getter, and serious about a job with their company. Thank him/her for their time and let them know you will follow up with them later so that they have time to look over your application.

The Strategy:
In doing the above you have shown your face twice and hopefully at least once to management.
You have shown persistence and a go getter attitude but in a polite, enthusiastic way.
You should be able to turn in at least 20 applications during an 8hr job hunting day and unless a lot of them are online, there is time to do this with every face to face application.
Keep a notebook with the names of the businesses where you turned in apps and managers you need to contact. Get the phone numbers from the phone book/internet. Do not write these things down while in the store/business.
Follow up is a must!!!!! Let’s say Monday you filled out and turned in apps. Tuesday you follow up. Go back to every place and ask for that person whose name you wrote down, feel free to call first and see what time they come in. Don’t announce who you are. You are going to sort of ambush them. If you filled out online applications then call those businesses and ask who their hiring manager is and when they will come in. Then go to the location itself and ask to speak to them and request an interview appointment. Let them know you are following up on an online application submission. The worst that can happen is they say no. The best is you walk out with a job on the spot. It CAN happen. Never give up on following up until they look you in the eye and say that they are not interested in hiring you personally. YOU.  PERSONALLY. Follow up no more than twice a week. Do not stop following up until you have a job or a rejection. “We’re not hiring right now,” is not a rejection.  It is a deferment, sometimes it’s an excuse. Maybe they really are not hiring. But they will remember you coming back each week and not giving up, looking your best and always with a smiling, positive attitude. Money can’t buy that.
Never flirt with someone giving you an app or an interview. Do not flirt back if they are flirting with you. This can lead to problems and misunderstandings down the road. It also makes the applicant look unprofessional and superficial.
Do not look for jobs with a buddy or a gang. Employers have no interest in group hiring and it gives the appearance that you are more about hanging out with your friends than focused on finding a job. My understanding is people who make looking for a job a group effort are not taken seriously at all.
Do not cuss or swear.
Do not shop or eat at the business in the same trip that you made to get an app or follow up. It makes you look like the application was an afterthought, and you’re not serious.
Do not carry food or drinks with you to get applications; do not buy them while you are there
Do not ask friends to get you a job or put in a good word for you. You might think your friend is great but their boss might think otherwise, no matter what your friend says. This means a connection with them might cost you the job. A lot of people have no idea they are on their way out of a job until the pink slip is given because they are clueless. I know one person who made it through 2 interviews without mentioning a friend that worked there. Things were looking good and that friend HAD to let the manager know they were friends. The manager point blank told the applicant that anyone hanging out with that person was not welcome there and the friend was actually fired right around that time. The applicant was furious because the connection cost her the job. Let YOU be your own best reference in how you conduct yourself.
If you have a car that’s great but if not, learn the local public transportation system and use it. It is way cheaper than car ownership and will usually get you where you need to be or very close to it.
Jobs are a game of numbers. For every so many applications you fill out, say 15-30, one will call you back. Sometimes this number is higher, sometimes lower. The more apps you have out there, the more follow ups you do, the greater your chances of getting a job. It is simple math. At least it is if you are representing yourself well on the first impression part.

I hope the first 2 blogs in this 3 part series has been helpful to anyone missing the mark with the job search. You probably know people who do many of the things that I listed as no-nos and still get a job. I would encourage you, however, to look at what I have written, especially if your job search is stalled out. If you can strive for and achieve excellence why settle for mediocrity?

Part 3 will be about owning that job interview.  It will not be nearly as long as the first two but it will be helpful and informative.