I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A lot of friends tell me they can’t find work because there are “no jobs hiring.” Along with people telling me to drop $45 on uber or lyft to get out of Los Angeles (rather than brave the public transportation system,) it’s a pet peeve because there’s sort of a disconnect in mentality. To me, the whole millennial “I can’t even get a job at a grocery store!” struggle is overhyped. Finding a full-time well-paying job in your major is difficult, yes. But anyone can get a part-time minimum wage job. Having worked so many of those that I can’t even count them anymore, I thought I would write a guide for people trying to find one.
When it comes to your first job, there’s nothing wrong with starting out with Starbucks or an office secretary at your college. Some job experience is better than no job experience, and it beats lounging at home, watching T.V.
The first legitimate part-time job I worked was in October 2012. It’s now August 2014. In that time, I’ve worked for six part-time minimum wage or unskilled jobs and four semi-skilled and entry level jobs. People often joke about how many jobs I juggle at the same time. Truth be told, it’s not good to have a lot of short-term job experience. But that said, it’s helped me master the art of finding employment.
Just this summer, I applied to 37 jobs. That’s actually lower than my goal of 50. Of that 37, I received 10 responses. From that, I got 6 follow-ups and interviews. That led to a grand total of 3 confirmed jobs, not counting one that was basically handed to me through networking. I have a pretty competitive resume for someone my age and education level, but that’s only because I’ve been relentless in finding work. Especially considering that no work = no money when you’re in a household that can’t afford to give more. If you’re willing to spend hours poring over job apps, all while not letting rejections hold you back, (it’s like online dating,) I definitely believe you can find a job, especially if you just keep a few of these tips in mind.
1) For every ten legitimate job applications, expect one interview or call back.
This only counts if you’re a) actually qualified for the job and b) the job is actually hiring or at least actively taking in applications.
If you apply for a job that’s explicitly not hiring at the moment, you’re wasting your time. Don’t count that as one of your ten, because even if they do get back to you, it’ll be when you don’t need or can’t have the job. Stores typically refresh their resumes every season. And if you got passed up the first time, you’re likely to just end up in the bin.
2) Do NOT apply to a job you can’t see yourself working at and enjoying.
Applying for a job you honestly want increases your chance of being hired and decreases your chance of burnout or being fired/quitting.
One of the best jobs I’ve ever worked was at Blick Art Materials. I was a good fit because I did art, and they hire artists. Before they hired me, I had been a loyal customer for years. I honestly enjoyed work every day because I would learn about art with intellectual coworkers (as well as receive an awesome discount.) The worst job I worked was Cinnabon. I couldn’t really see myself making cinnabons before and the people that worked there had a haughty and apathetic air that translated into how they treated me. It’s the only job that I quit for personal rather than professional reasons.
2b) If you still want the job but aren’t exactly their target demographic, blend in with those that worked there.
Despite not being a huge fan of the company, or of frilly, sexy lingerie, I dressed smart for the Victoria’s Secret interview. I specifically picked a blouse that was more on the fashionable rather than the conservative side and wore all black. The regular uniform is all black, so I basically dressed like an employee. I got the job.
3) Cater your resume to the job. Then, if you’re serious, write a cover letter.
Don’t have one resume for everything. Jobs want to know different things — do you have writing experience for this desk job? Do you have culinary experience for this grill job? Do you have experience working with kids for this teaching assistant job? You can have a general resume, but alter that every time. If you see something on the listing, put that in the resume, because it’s exactly what they want. Also, make sure to have concrete numbers, like “raised $3000” or “expanded the staff from 15 to 45.” Don’t use “hard-working,” try to find adjectives that are more unique.
4) Always keep your phone on.
Employers are impatient and sometimes wait till the last minute. One missed call, and you might have to fight through a sludge of bureaucracy to get back to that person. And the job will go to someone else. I’ve missed potential job offers because my phone was dead or I didn’t respond in time, which is hugely disappointing.
5) Before you go to the interview, do your research.
Google the job. Use Glassdoor.com. Make sure you know what you’re getting into, especially if it’s a cold calling or canvassing job. As for the interview, that’s a whole entire conversation that I might talk about later. For now, About.com and WikiHow has really good tips.
All in all, if you take employment seriously, you’ll find a job. I know that’s a bold statement, but applying to five places that aren’t hiring and grouching at home will get you nowhere. I really believe in the value of high school students and college students having jobs as it teaches discipline and gets your foot in the door before you graduate. If you’ve read my blog long enough, you’ll know I’m rather disdainful of kids who lounge around, having fun on their parents’ money. Believe it or not, working at a place like a theatre helped me get later jobs like being an administrative assistant when I mentioned things such as “working with people” or “money-handling experience.” It’s all related.
So good luck, and get those applications in.