We asked a hiring manager to give us tips on how you can impress HR—and how you can avoid making horrible mistakes when hunting for a job.
To ensure their honesty, we’ve granted anonymity to this operations manager at an independent retail store. Check out his/her job tips on making a good impression, as told to Aaron Weber.
IF THERE’S A WRITTEN APPLICATION, DO IT RIGHT
A résumé and cover letter aren’t required for our entry-level positions, but they’re nice to have. We do have a written application that I expect to see completed carefully.
One thing I often do is ask people to come in and fill out the application in person. A résumé or cover letter might be polished to within an inch of its life by your college career office, family, or friends. I want to see how people respond to things when they’re on the spot and don’t have help.
A literate and articulate application filled out in pen, in person, in under 30 minutes, gives me a much better feeling about how the person is going to act when a customer puts them on the spot. And yes, I care about your handwriting. If you add a note on a special order or a customer request, your co-workers better be able to read it when they come in on the next shift.
When I read a résumé, cover letter, or application, I’m looking for personality as well as experience. I don’t want to be reading a Hallmark card or a canned response: I want to get a sense of the actual person who’s there. You need to have a personality. A good personality.
Look at it from my perspective: People can shop online or at big-box stores if all they care about is price. If they’re going to walk into our store and buy something, the experience has to be better. In this economy, I can’t afford new lights and displays and carpet. I need friendly, helpful staff. I need them to have genuine enthusiasm and knowledge about what we’re selling. Demonstrate that and you’re at the top of the list.
Besides, if I’m here 60+ hours a week, I don’t want to spend all that time with boring jerks.
Just this past year, we had a guy come in with a good application. He had some experience in similar stores and he knew our line of business. But in the interview he was completely colorless. He just had no personality at all. The person who got the job had much less experience but was friendly and engaging. They still work here, they’re terrific, and customers love them.
YOU’RE NOT GOD’S GIFT TO RETAIL
Can’t spell: You’re out. Colorless and rote: You’re out. Lazy or self-important: You’re out.
We can’t succeed as a business without good staff, but no matter how good you think you are, I can find someone else who’s just as good—and isn’t a pain in the neck to work with.
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