Tuesday, December 07, 2004


The New Hires

Get some pants that fit. Pull them up. Tuck in your shirt. Sit up straight. Take off the hat. And dump the thug act.

I work in a $50 million per year retail department store. This time of year we need to hire extra people to work throughout the store. Lots of extra people. And the pickin's have been slim and disappointing.

You can't teach decent behavior to people over five. If your mother and father didn't give you adequate food, shelter, clothes, some good spankings and a lot love then you were screwed in the "friendly" skills by the time you reached kindergarten. Anyone who works in a retail environment needs first to be friendly as there are these critters roaming about the store giving us money called customers. Customers appreciate authentic friendliness. All other skills and attributes follow a salesperson's ability to be friendly. Any one who's tied their own shoes can be taught how to work a cash register, where the time clock is located and what the difference is between a pair of Levis and a toaster. But you can't teach them genuine friendliness, or decent character.

If you know of a young person out looking for a job you'll do them a huge favor by letting them know a few basic rules about getting hired, regardless of their formal education or work experience.

The first impression.
You're there to impress a business not yourself or your friends. What are the decision makers wearing?
Dress appropriately. Conservatively. In today's style. Wear business attire, even if the job being applied for doesn't require it. Shave. Brush your hair. Wear nice shoes.
Guys, don't show up in any office with pants on that are four sizes too big hanging below your ass and folded down your legs like empty duffel bags. No hats. No jewelry.You look stupid to the executive office staff who, you'll notice, are all in business attire and wondering why you're scrounging around your knees for your wallet. Girls, as nice as that tattoo is for your discerning boyfriend, it looks pretty trashy to the people your asking for employment. We also don't care for your toe rings, ankle bracelets, navel bars, nose rings, or tongue decorations. No bellies, backs, arm pits or bare legs, either. You're looking for a job, not a frat house.
Leave the kids, and boy friends at home or in the car.
Don't give the employer a reason to pass on you before you ask for the application.
Good penmanship.
It's another first impression. The person you hand your application to won't be the only one who reads your life story. (Unless, of course, you've dressed like a clown as discussed above... in which case you'll be politely turned away). Take your time, check the spelling, make sure everything is filled out accurately. If you can, take the application home and bring it back in perfect condition.
Make yourself available. "Open", "Anytime", "Open to close" are all music to an employers ears. Use them. In retail, "Nights and weekends" are even lovelier words. If you're in school, be very specific about your class schedule and the time you'll need to study. Monday through Friday 9 to 5 doesn't exist. Businesses are open on most holidays. You're willing and able to work them all. Once on board with a business the quickest way to get thrown overboard is to limit your availability or alter it so it doesn't suit what the employer requires.
The interview.
I've never hired anyone I wouldn't want at my dinner table or in my car for a 1 hour trip. Hiring an employee is like getting a room-mate. Be honest, upbeat, interested, charming and polite. Sit up straight, hold eye contact and speak clearly. Offer a firm handshake not a dead fish. The employer is making a decision whether or not to trust you with their business. Their money. Their merchandise. Their customers. Their reputation. They've got about 15 minutes to make the decision. Should they trust you? Can they trust you?

Now go get a job! -Wb

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