June 18, 2011

Top 5 ... Tips for landing a retail summer job

With June is quickly coming to a close, more and more high school students are slowly waking up the realization that the summer job season is in full swing - and if they don't act quickly, they'll be left behind. But don't despair - if you haven't found anything yet, keep looking because there are still many summer jobs available and looking to be filled.

One sector that tends to attract high school students and is still hiring is the retail industry. With flexible working hours, an indoor/AC-controlled environment, staff perks, and the possibility to work in the same place as your friends, it's no wonder why so many high school students hope to find a summer retail job.

But how can you find that perfect retail summer job?

Easy! Just follow these five steps to finding a perfect retail summer job ...

1. Plan your strategy.

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 mall maps given to 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 malls typically have dedicated sections on their websites where they list employment opportunities. For examples, see the 'Jobs' section on the Pickering Town Centre website or on the Fairview Mall website. If you want a retail job this summer, this is one of the first places you should look.

2. Revamp your resume and cover letter

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

INSIDER TIP: If you've never worked before, use a functional resume to highlight key retail skills (e.g. communication, customer service, and math skills) and desirable personality attributes (e.g. responsibility and reliability). If you have worked, use a combination resume as it will allow you to highlight both your skills and relevant experience.

3. Complete an application form

If required by the store, 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 will not 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 tricky and off-beat questions that are commonly found on application forms. They are designed to trip up potential applicants, so be on the lookout and know how to answer them properly.

4. Personalize your application.

Visit the mall and personally deliver your cover letter, resume, and application form to the manager at a time when the store isn't as busy. That means you shouldn't attempt to hand out your resume at 6pm on a Friday night. 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 some hiring managers! 110 is the number often assigned to resumes that are going to the "NO" pile as the numbers (110) almost make the word "NO" - just 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'.

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 touch base with hiring managers after you've spoken with them. 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.

Good luck!

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