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On a daily basis, I see applications for open positions at my retail location. I’ve seen uncompleted ones, ones that have too much information on the application, ones that do not have enough information on the application and ones who (if enough attention is paid to detail) are only putting in the application to get someone off of their back.  It is with the concern, questions and the constant nervousness one feels in mind that I offer four tips to landing a job in the retail industry.

1.  Do your research! 

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The first question I always ask in orientation is “what do you (the new hire) know about the company you’ve just joined?”.  Most can tell me the basics like who we serve and what we generally do. However, they can’t tell me how the company was founded, how many stores  or branches of our company are there, or who is the CEO of the company. A quick google search can answer all of those questions for anyone who is interested.  For me, as the HRA (Human Resources Associate) for my location’s retail complex, this always give me pause because it makes me wonder why a person would work for a company about which they barely know. Is there such a desperation for a job that one will just accept anything? Research on the potential employer is key because one needs to understand how the company will impact their lives beyond a paycheck. If you have strong views, are you certain that the company will support them?  If you are someone who is heavily tied into your community, what is this company doing to support it? If you are someone who needs motivation (again, other than a paycheck) to come to work, will this company be enough to inspire you to have decent attendance?  Researching the company can give you those answers and more while allowing yourself to think of how you can fit in as an employee.

2.  Most retail stores require open availability so be flexible.

Nothing turns me off more than those who have unrealistic hours. As a matter of fact, I don’t even send them on to the hiring manager after I have reviewed their application. For example, the retail store could be open three hundred and sixty-three (363) days a year with the retail hours being 10 am to 7 pm on Sundays and Holidays and 9 am to 9 pm Monday – Saturday and yet someone will mark their availability for only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays early morning shift (6:00 am to 10 am).  It makes me wonder if they are even really wanting to work. There is no way that those hours could be accommodated in a busy retail industry. Be realistic with your availability. In doing your research, make sure you check out the hours of operation and honestly evaluate how many of those hours you can make. Companies understand that most of us have families and they respect it. However, if they bring you on their team, they become number one.  Realize this and respect it. If your life outside of work is so precious that your job will seem more like a hindrance than a help, perhaps you need to reevaluate what you need more: a job or your lifestyle.  One thing hiring managers will consider when there are extra hours to give is who will be reliable enough to use them.

3. The job interview starts when you are called to schedule the face-to-face interview.

So please answer your phone. When managers have to leave a message for you to return their call, you may think you’re in power. Actually, you’re the vulnerable one. You don’t return their call? They move on to someone else. You return their call but they are not there to answer you? You might have missed your opportunity to be employed. You answer their phone call but your background noise overwhelms the conversations? The hiring manager might assume you’re already too busy for the position and may not call back to solidify the interview time. Basically put, if or how you answer the phone when the hiring manager call determines how the rest of that conversation will go. So if you really want the position, put your best foot forward. This is the first time you can make an impression by making them excited to want to meet you.  Also, if you really want the position, do as much maneuvering of your personal schedule as possible to accommodate the interview time. Do not forget that the hiring manager is doing the same thing to accommodate being able to interview you. They are switching around plans, making adjustments and delaying or delegating jobs to others to make time for you.

4.  Do NOT come to an interview as if you are going to meet your friends afterwards. 

Recently, a hiring manager came to me after an interview and said, “I can’t take him seriously. I know this is California and all but I just can’t take someone seriously if they come to an interview with flip flops and shorts”.   It seems as if the sentence “dress for the job you want” has gone out the window.  I’ve seen low cut blouses or dresses, flip flops, shorts, t-shirts, short skirts, facial piercings and more come through the doors for an interview.  It immediately tells the hiring manager two things: the intent is not to make this a permanent career and that they are only here for an opportunity to make money. When manager hire, they are looking to build their bench. They are looking to build their team. It doesn’t have to be in that same position for the entire time and if the hiring manager is wise, they’ll select a person based on the next position they can aspire to should they join the company. However, they will never think of what you can be to the company if they are concentrating on getting over the holes in the jeans or the super casual wear chosen for the interview. Besides, when one does their research on the position for which they are applying, the attire one should wear must be apart of the research. Do not wear something that those who already have the job has avoided wearing while working. This may mean actually going into the store and seeing if they wear uniforms, a particular color or how they’re dressed period. I hate to tell you my friend but a smile and eye contact will not cut it if how you’re dressed is questionable.

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I get it. Those two words in the picture above is what anyone wants to hear at the end of the job search process. However, the four tips discussed above may be why you’re not hearing those words. They are easy to remedy and once changed, your luck may change with it.

Until next time, may your job search be a little easier after reading these four tips from a human resources insider.

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