November 3, 2009

T'is the season for finding retail employment

Thanksgiving and Halloween are officially over!

The line-up for pictures with Santa Claus has begun!

And every morning, the mall plays it's only holiday CD and you get Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" and Britney Spears' "My Only Wish" songs twice an hour!

That's right, it's the beginning of the holiday season - and that means the start of recruitment campaigns at numerous retail outlets.

In some of my previous posts, I've discussed retail employment and general hiring trends during the busy holiday season. And if you haven't had a chance to read them and you're interested in finding a retail job during this holiday season, then click on any of the following stories:

Looking for a job right now? Then check out retail!

The Top 5 ... Tips for job searching in the mall

Can I start my job search now ... even though it's December?

And since the hiring for the holiday season is getting underway, I thought I'd share some general - and insider! - tips and tricks that will help you maximize your chance of getting your ideal job.

1. Plan your strategy for finding a job. Don't just print off 25 resumes and hand them out randomly - hiring managers can easily spot who is doing this and your resume will likely end up in the 'NO' pile. Instead, create a list of stores you want to work at using the mall's website or the free print guides given to first-time mall visitors. This will help you track the stores you are interested in, if they are hiring, where you've dropped off a resume, and who you need to follow up with.

* INSIDER TIP * Ever notice that many stores no longer have "Hiring Now" signs in their window? That's because mall owners (e.g. Oxford, Cadillac-Fairview) often have a jobs section on their website (see examples 1 and 2 . As such, one of the first places you should look is the mall's website to see if any of the stores you like or are interested in working in are hiring.

2. Visit the mall and personally deliver your cover letter, resume, and application form to the manager during periods of low store activity. That means you shouldn't attempt to hand out your resume at 6pm on a Friday night - it won't work! Instead, opt for a Tuesday or Wednesday morning as store managers tend to be less busy and more open to having a brief chat about employment opportunities.

* INSIDER TIP * Do the numbers 110 and 435 mean anything to you? Well they do to hiring managers! 110 is the number assigned to resumes that are going to the "NO" pile as the numbers (110) almost make the word "NO" - all you have to do is add a diagonal line to make the 'N'. Conversely, 435 are resumes going to "YES" pile as these numbers spell the word "YES" - 4 for the 'Y', 3 is a backwards 'E', and 5 for 'S'.

3. Ensure you have a top-notch and targeted
resume and cover letter ready.

* INSIDER TIP * If you've never worked before, use a functional resume that highlights key retail skills (e.g. communication, customer service, and math skills) along with desirable personality attributes (e.g. responsibility, reliability, and flexible availability). Conversely, if you have worked, use a combination resume as it will allow you to highlight some of the above-mentioned skills and your relevant work/volunteer experiences.

4. If required, ensure that you have completed
an application form. There's nothing worse than walking into a store, speaking with a hiring manager, and finding out that s/he won't accept your resume because you need to complete an application form. Make sure you've got all three documents and put them in the following order - application form, cover letter, resume.

* INSIDER TIP * Pay close attention to the some of the common, yet tricky and off-beat questions. They're designed to trip up potential applicants, so be on the lookout and know how to answer them.

5. Be prepared for an on-the-spot interview. Sometimes the manager has enough time to sit down for a quick chat and you should be ready.

* INSIDER TIP * Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up! I cannot stress this enough! Ensure that you take the time to contact store managers after dropping off an application and after an interview. It reinforces your commitment and desire to get the job - as well, it can also alert you to any issues with your application (e.g. one of your references hasn't returned the manager's phone call)

And one last thing ...

You'll want to start looking as soon as possible as some stores have already started/completed their hiring for the season.

With that being said, do not despair. Based on the hiring trends from last year, combined with a still damped economy, I anticipate that most stores will only now begin to hire after waiting to see the overall sales trends for 2009 holiday season!

Good luck!


Salaries said...

Nice tip for number 1. I never knew that employers could spot them who are doing those hundred copies of resumes and send them randomly to all employers.

Andrew Hercules said...

Yeah, they can usually tell because of three things. One is that the job applicant often walks in with a folder and in plain view of the manager, pulls out a resume. The second is that the resume, and more importantly the cover letter, are not tailored towards the particular job and/or store. And lastly, applicants that hand out tons of resumes in a mall often forget to have a completed application form - they have to ask for one and that's an immediate red flag to a manager that this person just wants a job anywhere.