I recently had a meeting with the manager of my local WHSmith (where you can now pick up 7 Keys to a Winning CV) and he shared with me how the number of walk-in job enquiries they receive in the run up to Christmas always increases dramatically. “Unfortunately,” he added, “the quality of candidates do NOT!”
I probe further and he reveals how just last week, a young woman had come in to the store casually dressed in stained tracksuit bottoms and trainers with what looked like dental floss hanging from her mouth. Bob (not his real name, of course) politely told her that they had no vacancies at the moment – which was true – but he said he couldn’t let her get away without telling her the truth about her appearance and how incredibly off-putting it was to a potential employer! Luckily the young woman took it well and Bob felt better for engaging in this “heroic” act.
Unfortunately Bob isn’t the only employer with horror stories of walk-in job enquiries from misguided jobseekers (if you’re an employer and have your own horror stories, feel free to share in the comment box). Although these types of face-to face interactions are becoming rarer these days with even local branches of main shops recruiting through head office, there are still some high street outlets who recruit directly so if you’re thinking of making a walk-in job enquiry as the busy Christmas period approaches (although to be honest, it is a little late at this stage), here are seven tips that will help you impress at first sight:
1) Bring your CV
There’s no point turning up to ask for a job without having your CV in tow. Make sure your CV is up to date, clearly and neatly presented, and printed on one side of an A4 sheet per page. To make your CV even more memorable, use a brightly coloured highlighter to highlight your name and contact details at the top of the page. If you make a good impression, this will help the manager to quickly remember who you are. For extra brownie points on presentation and professionalism, insert each copy of your CV into a clear plastic wallet before handing it over (preferably at home before you get into the store).
2) Pick the right time
This is probably the most important point because if you turn up at a time when the store is rushed off their feet and short of staff (usually around lunchtime), the chances of you getting “fobbed off” with a “no jobs here” answer is very high. For a better response, generally aim for first thing in the morning within an hour of the shop opening, just before lunchtime when it’s still a bit quiet, or towards the end of the day when things are winding down.
3) Dress the part
It almost goes without saying that you need to look presentable when directly approaching an employer in any capacity. It’s not necessary to wear a three-piece suit and tie if you’re a man, but a pair of smart trousers (or really smart jeans) and a clean shirt would do just fine. For ladies, again smart professional clothing and accessories is best – stay away from tracksuits, excessive flashy jewellery, extra-tight skinny jeans, or any other overly-revealing outfit (well, I would have thought it’d be too cold for this anyway!). Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
4) Wear a smile
There are few things more unpleasant to look at than a scowling face. A smile is such a simple but powerful tool or weapon (depending on how you choose to use it). A warm smile can disarm even the meanest of managers or shop staff so smile, look friendly and approach with confidence.
5) Always ask for the manager
This is even more important when you’re making a speculative application as opposed to applying for a job that is advertised. The manager would know whether or not there is room for more staff so it’s best to speak to him or her directly. In fact, if they are looking, they may ask you some questions there and then, as well as your availability for interview or to start, so be prepared for this. It may not always be possible to speak to the manager directly so if you do happen to speak to a staff member instead, be nice – they may end up being your co-workers!
6) Have a great opening sentence
Simply approaching the manager and asking, “Have you got any jobs?” doesn’t count as a great opening statement – chances are he or she gets asked that question at least 50 times a week so make your opening creative, unique, and most importantly make sure that it sells you. If you have “engaged your intro” well enough on your CV (that’s a cheeky plug for key number 3 in 7 Keys to a Winning CV), you should be able to use this as your opening sentence.
So if for example you’re making a walk-in enquiry at your local PC World, you might say something like this: “Hi, my name is John Doe and I’ve been a Fiction Town local for 12 years. I am currently at university studying Computer Science and I have great knowledge and passion for computers. I would love the opportunity to work here during the holidays and beyond, if possible. Do you have any vacancies at the moment?”
7) Prepare your rejection statement
If you’re hitting a lot of shops in one go, the fact is you’re bound to come across a “no jobs here, sorry” answer at least once. Take this on the chin (well, not literally) and deliver your prepared rejection statement which should say something like this: “Thank you for letting me know. If you don’t mind, I would like to leave a copy of my CV with you in case you do need someone in the future. Please feel free to call me at any time.” Leave with a firm handshake and again, a smile; try not to sulk, storm off, or look disappointed as you never know when the next opportunity might come up…
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