Recently my daughter and I were shopping for shoes when I overheard her tell the store owner that I helped new graduates find jobs. As he walked towards me, I instantly knew what was coming, another employer telling me how hard it was to hire qualified employees. The only conversation I hear more often is new graduates telling me that employers do not want to hire them.
Remembering how much I appreciate the owner’s commitment to quality and customer service, I felt obliged to listen. As he began telling me his horror stories of trying to find qualified candidates, I reflected on the fact that more than 90% of workers in the US work for small businesses much like the one he has successfully run for the last 10 years. In one of those “aha moments”, I realized this conversation was going to be more than providing a sympathetic ear— it was an opportunity to make sure I was giving my clients the advice they needed to secure jobs in small businesses.
As he talked about people who came in to pick up applications dressed in cutoffs and T-shirts, sipping a drink, and chatting with a friend, I wondered how many of the graduates I work with realize they are making that all-important first impression when they pick up an application—not when they are dropping it off or interviewing.
Requesting an application/inquiring about an opening is the first step in securing a job offer. These steps will help you make that job-winning first impression:
- Know what the company does and how they refer to their employees. If you go to Starbucks don’t ask “are you hiring?” instead ask “are you hiring Baristas?”
- Dress as you would if you had the job.
- Go by yourself.
- Be polite to everyone you meet (customers and staff). Be sure to smile and say please and thank you.
- Ask if there is anything you need to know about the application processes and who you should give it to when you have completed it.
- Be prepared to complete the application on site; bring a pen, a copy of your resume, know your social security number, and the contact information for three references.
- After you have picked up/completed the application leave; this is not the time to hang out and chat with the employees.
Following these steps will help secure your spot in the interview process. Good luck!