General Question

dxs's avatar

Is there a secret trick to getting a job?

Asked by dxs (15160points) November 12th, 2013

Does anyone know if there is anything else I should do to get a job? I’m 18 years old and in my first semester of college. I’ve had an under-the-counter job in the hospitality industry for a while, but never a legitimate, government-recognized, Uncle Sam-paying job. I’ve applied to plenty of places but all online. I feel like I’m just wasting my time filling out surveys of myself on different websites. Are they even going to get back to me to let me know if they don’t want to interview me? Should I e-mail someone? I tried visiting the human resources in person a few times but that’s such a joke since they’re never at their office.
I need money to pay off college and don’t want to have to take out a loan. I’ve applied for jobs at hotels as a room attendant (a gender-inconsiderate term for maid) and a front-desk person. Am I aiming too high for my age and experience? As I said, I have “unlegitimate” experience, which I listed as experience since I still worked for a company. Is there anything more I can or should do? I don’t know…I’m just in this loop and not getting anything accomplished.

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41 Answers

Pachy's avatar

Don’t depend solely on the Web. Get out and network. Talk to friends of your parents and parents of your friends. Make sure your resume is as complete as creative as you make it, and practice interviewing with someone you trust so as to polish your personal skills. And—this is important—know what kind of work you like best and are best at doing—but be open to trying completely different kinds of work, regardless of pay, to accumulate confidence, contacts and invaluable real-world experience.

By the way, getting a job is sometimes simply being in the right place at the right time and knowing people. There’s no trick to it—you just gotta get our there and LOOK.

ucme's avatar

No, any bloody fool can get a job, making a career out of it, that’s the trick.

talljasperman's avatar

When I needed a job I went to KFC and I literally knelt down to the before the owner and assistant manager and asked for a job. I got a cashier job 3 minutes later. I didn’t realise that I had knelt but it worked. The job lasted 3 months and it held me until I can get help in a hospital. I’ve been on disability for 10 years now… An It just hit me that I was kneeling and virtually begging and that it worked.

glacial's avatar

”... don’t want to have to take out a loan.”

This sounds as if you think that having a loan gives you a bad reputation. As far as banks go, borrowing money only improves your credit rating, as long as you pay it back on schedule. I completely understand if you are worried about being able to pay it back, but your wording here made me wonder.

As to how to get a job – there’s no easy answer to this. It can happen because of luck, or because of hard work, or because of who you know. Being in the face of the HR person at a specific company could either help or hinder you greatly, depending on who you’re talking to and how. My advice is to diversify your efforts. If you find that you’re only applying to places online, spend some of your time pounding the pavement with copies of your resume. Make phone calls.

If you’re worried about your experience level, try talking to the HR people you’re applying with about that specific question. They will probably be able to give you some advice tailored to your field.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

At 18 you’ll be working a sh**ty job, that’s just the way it is especially if you have never had a job. You don’t need a resume you are looking for the most basic experience. That said there are a lot of ways to look at this. What are you wanting to do with your career when you finish school? Try to find something that would be a first step in that general direction. If you want to be in business do a retail job, if you want to be an engineer find a job changing oil. Then incrementally work closer and closer to your ultimate goal. By building your experiences you’ll be there before you know it. My first job was at an ice cream parlor. I saw a bunch of cute girls working there and decided this would be a good place to work….and it was. That said paying your way through school is a good thing, loans are not your friend but if you can’t do it without a loan don’t be afraid to do it. Also, it’s never too early to look at paid internships and co-op programs. It’s probably not a bad idea to check with your schools placement office.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Before I answer you, I would like to point out that my answer may not be the best idea for you, but this is something that I have found woks for me most of the time.

First, you need to get yourserlf in a face to face situation with someone who can hire you, such as a job interview.

Once you are face to face, you wait for them to ask some kind of dumb weekend management course question, like “where do you see yourself in 5 years” or “how many piano owners do you think there are int he country” or whatever .

When they ask, you say “look, I’m going to be honest. I can either answer you with some vague guess of what I am going to be doing in the next 5 years, or I can just tell you the facts. The facts are, if you give me a job, I will come to work on time, Ill do what you tell me, how you tell me. I won’t hide in the toilets or try to make friends, and I will always give you a honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. If you want, Ill come in an work tomorrow for free. If at the end of the day you dont like what you see, we can part company with no hard feelings. What do you say?”

I have done this 3 or 4 times at least by now, and it has worked every time except once.

However, you may want to note, that the kind of jobs I do and the kind of people who hire me, are not quite normal, compared to the kind of jobs you see in other parts of the world, so consider it carefulyl before deciding to use this technique.

If you are desperate for work though, you can always give it a try. Just note that this technique will only really work on bosses who get their hands dirty and know what real work is. If you say this to some suit with clean hands you probably wont get too far.

OneBadApple's avatar

“If you want, I’ll come in and work tomorrow for free. If at the end of the day you don’t like what you see, we can part company with no hard feelings. What do you say?”

I’ve never heard of anyone trying that angle, but I like it….

KNOWITALL's avatar

When I was younger, I just thought of what would be fun, like working at a movie theater (which I did), worked at a Lamborghini dealership, etc….and now I’ve been in radio for 11 years. Find something you want to do and go after it! :)

Blondesjon's avatar

Don’t be picky.

CWOTUS's avatar

As much as I like @poisonedantidote‘s response – and I do! – it wouldn’t work with most “established” companies in the United States; it would be patently illegal. An employer making that kind of deal (“I’ll work a day for free”) could be (and probably would be) caught up in a sting operation that could cost him the whole business. And that’s completely aside from the major liability and workmen’s comp issues that the employer runs if an off-the-books employee has an accident and gets hurt or hurts someone else. Don’t try that experiment with “brand name” companies in the US; you’ll be tossed out as someone who doesn’t understand the first thing about business, which is “Do it right.”

Otherwise, the advice is sound: You need to find someone who is hiring and talk to that person. Go in person to the businesses that you’d like to work for and ask the people facing the public, such as receptionists, cashiers, delivery people and the like, “Who should I talk to about getting a job here?” Unless they’re complete automatons, most people who have worked a job for awhile can tell you who’s the guy (or woman) to talk to, and if you appear to be somewhat presentable and friendly, they’ll often go out of their way to help, even if they don’t know you. (If you find many people who won’t do that, then it’s probably a good place to stay away from anyway.)

For your first job you won’t have a résumé, so apply for jobs that don’t require one.

PS: If you’re in college, there are usually financial assistance offices that can help you with employment (not everyone goes to school on grants and loans, after all), and if you have graduated college then find someone in the Placement Office whose job it is to help you get that first job. If you can’t get employment, then the college won’t look good to other prospective students (and you won’t contribute to the scholarship funds that they always solicit for), so it’s in their interest to help you get a decent first job.

syz's avatar

First, have an independent professional review your resume for quality and content (I see plenty of crappy resumes every day, and I immediately put them in the ‘discard’ pile. If you can’t be bothered to have a nice looking resume, you probably won’t bother to be a good employee).

Write a good cover letter. Research the job that you’re applying for and target the cover letter appropriately. Sell yourself in the cover letter, focusing on what you have to offer.

Follow job listings directions; if they say submit online, do so. Otherwise, hand deliver a resume (the inability to follow simple directions is another thing that gets resumes moved to the ‘discard’ pile).

If you have no marketable skills, you need to volunteer to develop your resume.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Find a skill you have and create a business around it…..entrepreneurship; work for yourself, the boss will love you.

glacial's avatar

@syz “First, have an independent professional review your resume for quality and content (I see plenty of crappy resumes every day, and I immediately put them in the ‘discard’ pile. If you can’t be bothered to have a nice looking resume, you probably won’t bother to be a good employee).”

This is so true. I’ve thrown out more resumes for typos than I could count. Want to communicate to a potential employer that you can pay attention to details and care about the quality of your work? Spell check your resume, and don’t make silly mistakes in your application. Not noticing there’s a page 2 = immediate disqualification!

However, I will also say that I pitched cover letters even more quickly, because they added nothing to the process. This was a retail environment, though. Mileage will vary.

Anyway, I assume @dxs is submitting good work, and simply wants suggestions for how to be more creative in the job hunting process.

snowberry's avatar

This is how you can make @poisonedantidote‘s recommendation work in the US: Find a job doing volunteer work until you get a real job. I have gotten several well paying jobs by volunteering (cleaning for deserving folks who couldn’t afford it- I ran a cleaning business for 30 years). Folks with money who can pay you like people who will cheerfully work for free. In addition, they get to see your work ethic and abilities. These are all plusses for an employer who works in a world where nobody wants to show up and actually do anything.

In addition, employers don’t want to hire someone who is not working because there is always the concern that they’ll be able to handle showing up on time, every time. A volunteer job will help with that, especially if you show you can keep regular hours.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes, thanks for pointing that out. Hence why I said it may not be the best answer for them. I am not in the USA, things are different here. When I said it wont work on a boss in a suit with clean hands, that is kind of what I was insinuating.

YARNLADY's avatar

There are two.

l. Have exactly the qualifications they are looking for.

2. Make a favorable impression on the person who will hire you.

Another one I thought of is be in the right place at the right time.

CWOTUS's avatar

@glacial posted a good response to the dilemma of how to apply @poisonedantidote‘s good advice in a place that can’t take on an employee on a “free trial” basis.

It also reminded me of how I got my first “real” job during high school. (Earlier I had delivered newspapers and worked in my hometown’s small grocery store, but I didn’t consider them as “real jobs”.) My mother had recommended me to one of her friends to help her with some heavy housework and window cleaning while she was recovering from an illness. When the woman liked the work I had done, she recommended me to her husband, who owned and operated a small manufacturing plant.

He hired me on the basis of her recommendation, without even having met me in person, and before I had even “applied” for the job.

glacial's avatar

@CWOTUS I think you might have meant @snowberry. :)

CWOTUS's avatar

Yeah, I think so, too. Thanks.

Carly's avatar

When I was 18–20 I had a few jobs. I did seasonal work during christmas time at JC Pennys, I had a library job that I got on my college campus, then I worked at Mc Donalds for a few months.

McDonalds is always hiring. I would get a job there (or any fast food place) asap, and as soon as you get a job there start applying to places you’d rather work. Then you can put that you’ve had job experience, and you’re still getting paid while you look for a better fit.

I’d also suggest getting a job as a pizza delivery driver. My finance was working for about pizza hut for two years, and he made great tips (usually $60—$100 every shift on top of his hourly wage). If you have a car and a pretty good driver’s record, they’ll take you.

filmfann's avatar

Being smart and a good worker are fine attributes. Being good looking helps. The truth is it doesn’t matter how well you do your job, they will promote the ones they like to work with. Hiring is probably a lot like that.

deni's avatar

I think you need to apply in person more, and for more basic jobs….dish washer, bus boy, cashier, gas stations, places that are always hiring. If you go in and ask about a job you are so much more likely to get one than applying on line. Online you are just another email address.

dxs's avatar

Okay looks like I should go visit in person. I haven’t tried Hilton HR yet, so I’ll do that on Thursday and let you know if the person is even there.
By the way, I’ve done a ton of volunteer work like stuff for my parish, teaching music to middle-schoolers, but nothing to do with hospitality. I just realized that in my résumé I didn’t specify that the volunteer work the I did was unpaid, so I’ll have to edit that.
@ucme I don’t care about a career right now. I just need money.
@CWOTUS “For your first job you won’t have a résumé, so apply for jobs that don’t require one.”
What possible jobs other than a maid are there in the hospitality industry that don’t require a résumé? Maybe I should just forget about trying to work at a Hilton or something and go to fast food. I’d rather not smell like a french fry, and minimum wage won’t balance me out, but it’s better than nothing right now. I mean, the job I had before was pretty demanding, and I feel like I have developed good worker skills, but no major company can justify that from working at a mom & pop place.

CWOTUS's avatar

No one is going to hire you for a management type position – no one in his right mind, that is – without some kind of documented work experience or training qualifications / credentials. You don’t appear to have either, yet. If you want a non-menial job in the hospitality industry, then you need to acquire “some work experience” somewhere before you can summarize that in writing and apply with a reasonable hope or expectation of being interviewed and hired. So, yeah, maybe your start should be as a menial in a hotel or as a burger-flipper or some other job that you can hire on at with no previous work experience. I don’t see what is hard to understand about that.

If you can somehow document the under-the-table work you’ve had in the past (and for résumé purposes there’s no reason why you can’t, as long as you’re not applying to the IRS), then maybe you do have enough documentation to apply for a non-menial job. But you do need experience (of some kind), and you do need documentation of that experience to show a prospective employer, “Look, here’s what I’ve done in the past and here is a list of people who have been satisfied with my performance. I think I can do the job you’re offering.”

dxs's avatar

@CWOTUS Is a room attendant (maid) a “non-menial” job? It sort of seems it. Or am I still aiming too high? I have my work documented—everything I did. Do you think they can judge me so much to consider a front-desk job if they see me in person? (Only one of my applications was for a front-desk job.)

dxs's avatar

By the way, the only thing they said in the job description about experience was ”preferred past experience.”

CWOTUS's avatar

Generally “experience preferred” means “experience in that position” or one like it. I would think – as an outsider to the hotel industry – that “room attendant” in most hotels will be an entry-level position. That is, it won’t take a lot of training to get you moderately proficient, and as long as they can trust you not to steal guests’ belongings (or snoop through them), then they don’t need a lot of work history to be documented.

glacial's avatar

If you don’t have specific experience that they’re seeking, then what you need to do is either to show that in previous jobs, you have picked up skills that are transferrable to the job you’re applying for, or show that you can pick up new skills quickly.

ucme's avatar

@dxs See, that’s okay, coz I was answering in general terms, like the question says.

dxs's avatar

I’ve been both a front desk person and a room attendant. If it doesn’t count as a “job” then it’s experience that’s identical to what they desire. I’ll go talk to HR tomorrow and give them a hard copy of my resume.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s the Christmas season! Go to the mall and apply in 10 stores you wouldn’t mind working at. It’s almost too late, most of the hiring is in October, but they will still be hiring. They will most likely hire you as a temp for the Christmas season, but they might keep you on.

Dress professionally. Have ready all information necessary to completely fill a job application. Previous employment and references both employment and personal. Even have your ID and SS card with you. Do not leave with the application. Fill it out (you might go right outside to a chair right outside of the store) and then hand it in. Remember to smile and stand tall.

To help with your interviews there are five steps to selling.

1. Greet the customer (either with an acknowledgement like a smile) or a verbal greeting like hello.

2. Ask open ended questions. Open ended are questions that cannot be answered with yes or not. Once you get a no the conversation is over. For instance, don’t ask, “may I help you,” ask “what can I help you find today.”

3. Suggestive sell. Suggest items to the customer, esoecially coordinating items with what they have already picked up. Continue to suggestive sell once they are in the dressing room” once they are already disrobed they will go ahead and try almost anything.

4. Overcome objections. The best way to do this is with product knowledge. If they worry about a fabric being able to talk about it from a place of really knowing will help. Being up on fashion trends helps overcome objections about how garments fit. Do not lie! Being a trustworthy salesperson will get you far.

5. Close the sale. Ask the customer what garments they decided on, last chance for an accessory add on.

Talk about being goal oriented, and that your nature is to always try to exceed what is expected.

Also, being team oriented and able to multitask are good qualities for retail.

You like to stay busy, if there is time to lean there is time to clean.

Good luck.

mattbrowne's avatar

Learn something few other people have learned.

dxs's avatar

I just got a call back from a hotel today!! They’re going to talk to me in person tomorrow!!! What do I wear?

JLeslie's avatar

Yay! What position?

glacial's avatar

@dxs Pants!

And congratulations. :)

dxs's avatar

Font Desk!!! But I think they’re only going to pay me $8.50 and hour.

glacial's avatar

Ok, if you’re at a desk, you may not need the pants after all.

dxs's avatar

Shirt and tie? Polo and khaki pants? What’s the social dressing norm that I have to conform to? It’s a local place. One step up from what I used to do. Nothing chainy like Hilton or Mariott.

JLeslie's avatar

Dress similar to how the front desk people dress or even more conservative if they are rather casual. If a shirt and khakis is acceptable, I recommend interviewing in dress pants and a tie if you have it. If they wear a tie, add a jacket if you have it. Overdressed, but still looking like you understand the culture is my recommendation.

dxs's avatar

I got the job!!! Part time…16 hours a week! Thanks so much everyone!

JLeslie's avatar


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