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KateTheGreat's avatar

I'm applying for a job. Any ideas on how to put myself out there?

Asked by KateTheGreat (13610 points ) March 19th, 2011

I’m in college and I’ve yet to find a real job. I work at an opera house right now as a singer, but I want to go out in the real world and find a job like waitressing. I just want to know what the experience is like. What can I do to make myself look better than all of the other applicants?

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13 Answers

the100thmonkey's avatar

You work at an opera house as a singer while in college and want to work as a waitress?

WHY?

What makes waitressing any more of a “real” job than singing? In my opinion, there is a significant difference between the jobs. What could possibly motivate you to want to be a waitress – is the money better?

KateTheGreat's avatar

The money isn’t better, but all of my friends lately are trying to tell me that I don’t have to work hard at all. I want to be able to be cultured and have experience in a lot of places. I’m one of those people who want to do everything at once.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Do you like singing?

Your friends are wrong.

Put it this way:

I’m a teacher. I work in English language teaching, which is, compared to friends of mine who hold the same level of qualification as I do, horribly, horribly badly paid. However, I like what I do. It’s very important to me that I look forward to doing my job. Indeed, it trumps the pecuniary aspect every time.

Wanting to do everything at once is an admirable trait, but I don’t see waitressing as work than singing. A different kind of work, perhaps, but not less.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Your friends are idiots. People wait tables because they don’t have jobs working at opera houses.

Haleth's avatar

It’s great that you want to have all kinds of experiences. Everyone who’s telling you that opera singing is better than waiting tables is probably right. I mean, with opera singing you get paid to use your talent for something really unique. That’s amazing! On the other hand, when you’re waiting tables you’re basically paid to kiss the public’s ass. Your pay depends on the caprices of customers who will often be rude, demanding, dismissive or unfair. The work itself can be dirty, stressful and tiring. There will be times when you put in your best effort and the customer stiffs you on a tip, or people come in one minute before closing and you still have to serve them, which means you go home two hours late for a measly eight bucks. It can be hard not to feel resentful when stuff like this happens.

I think working a job like that, in customer service or retail, is an experience that can make you a more well-rounded person and teach you empathy. You will meet all kinds of people that you would normally never interact with, and even gain some serious insights. But it’s can be a really shitty job.

Anyway, you never asked us to weigh in on whether you should or should not become a waitress. Plenty of restaurants will hire college students with no experience, especially restaurants near college campuses. I got my first job waiting tables by writing my contact info on a napkin and giving it to the manager.

If you want to stand out, I’d suggest having a resume. Most people who are still in college don’t have one yet, or they don’t put it to use. List any extracurriculars where you worked with people near the top. Stop by the restaurant during the early afternoon between 2 and 4PM if it doesn’t close during these hours. This is after the lunch rush ends and before the dinner rush starts, so it’s the time when the manager will be least busy and you’ll be most likely to get an audience. If possible, ask to introduce yourself to the manager and meet with him/her directly; your personality is the factor that’s most likely to get you in the door.

If you want to learn about waiting tables you could also check out waiterrant.net. He published a book and quit waiting tables, but the early posts from when he’s working in the trenches are very interesting.

Good luck!

KateTheGreat's avatar

Thank you, @Haleth. That was very helpful.

Haleth's avatar

Great, I’m glad! But still, you can wait tables any time, and opera singing sounds like a rare opportunity. One ironic thing about this question is that people are always telling waiters, “If you complain about it so much, why don’t you get a real job!” Every job is a real job, and yours sounds especially rewarding, so don’t feel like you have to get a “real” job, because you already have one. :)

KateTheGreat's avatar

You see, I only have to perform a few times a week and I perform the same stuff over and over all season. So I am lacking change in my life. I need something to give me more of a challenge.

Bellatrix's avatar

To have a job doing something you love is a real blessing. There are enough people in the world working in jobs because they have to have the money but they hate the work they do. That said, yes write a resume but you also need to target what you write to the job you are applying for. Keep your application focused. There is a system for writing selection criteria called the STAR formula. Situation, Task, Approach or Action, Result. While you probably won’t need to write selection criteria, you still do need to think about these elements. What situations have you worked in that are similar to the job you are applying for, what did you do in that job?, What approaches or actions did you take and why? And what was the outcome (i.e. did you improve sales/customer satisfaction evaluations were better). You don’t have to write pages, but keep these ideas in mind. It isn’t enough to say “I am an excellent sales person”. You have to show why you know this. “I increased sales by xxx in the last six months”.

You know, you don’t have to work in paid employment to gain experience in other fields. Look for voluntary work you can carry out in your spare time. I have quite a list of voluntary jobs I did while studying that were connected to where I wanted to get in the future. These roles definitely helped add flesh to my applications and they showed the diversity of roles I could work in and something about who I am. Look for some voluntary work you can do. Help out at a homeless shelter for instance.

Good luck with it @KatetheGreat. I hope one day you will share your voice with us in some way.

john65pennington's avatar

Fill out an application at Cracker Barrel. They hire people all the time.

I am still scratching my head and wondering why you want to wait tables, rather than sing.

To me, there is no comparison.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@john65pennington I’ll still be singing but I really want to have another job as well in case something happens and I need that skill to make a living. I just want to experience other thing than singing.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@KatetheGreat: I think it’s very smart for you to set up a safety net for yourself and to get yourself life experience. I don’t know much about hiring practices at restaurants but as an employee in retail, I have a few pointers for you.

Take your application into a store in person. It’s possible that hundreds of people applied for that position and the ones that are memorable are not the ones who applied online.

Unfortunately, lots of places will not hire you if you have any visible body modifications This is why I’ve stopped dyeing my hair interesting colors. :( so you should take out your lip ring when handing your application in and for any interviews you have. Ask them after the interview what their policy is on visible body modifications.

Along the same thread, some places have conflicting policies about visible body mods. For example, where I live, most restaurants will allow visible tattoos and facial piercings but no odd colored hair. Similarly, I have been to stores where people have odd colored hair but no visible tattoos.

Applying for a seasonal position is a great way to get your foot in the door at any place. Often, stores will look to their past seasonals over new applicants for permanent positions. If you really want something permanent, the best time to apply other than when a place asks for help is right after the summer ends. Usually, stores lose their high school and college help then and so will need new employees to pick up the slack.

Do not go in asking for a specific amount of money. There are dozens of other people who will do what you do for minimum wage.

If you do get an interview, dress for the job. This means don’t wear a suit if you’re getting a job at the mall but do wear a nice, clean shirt without logos or words and a pair of nice pants.

Apply according to your strengths. You sing at an opera house so that may give you an advantage when applying to places like record stores or places that sell instruments.

The best piece of advice as someone who loves being a retail grunt I can give you is this: Don’t go into this expecting to hate it just because other people do. Lots of people think of retail and waitressing as soul-sucking jobs that will turn you into a mindless drone. This is not true. Remember, the retail workers and waitresses of the world make life comfortable for those people with “important” jobs which makes us even more important than anyone thinks.

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