So I'm biting the bullet and applying for retail jobs...advice please!

As a Starving Liberal-Arts College Student, it’s come to the point where if I want to pull off advanced moves like Drinking Beer And Paying Rent, I’ve got to suck it up and get a job outside the university newspaper (which is a great gig but $180/month isn’t cutting it!).

I went out today and snagged a few job applications, have polished up the I’ve Worked In Libraries So My Attention To Repetitive Detail Is Awesome resume and am heading out tomorrow for a few appointments (interviews?) with owners and managers. Which I am quite confident about – I get on well with people and have honed practical politeness to an art, an ART! – but I’m also nervous, because I don’t have a lot of experience in any field. And Ashland is very much a tourist town, so I’m afraid all the little boutiques and shops will want someone who’s more polished, experience-wise?

So, these are probably very stupid questions. But I’ve only been employed at the university and a summer camp, both of which had atypical application processes, so I’m not really familiar with the basics of How To Get A Job (In Real Life).

  1. It’s acceptable to apply for multiple jobs at the same time, right?
  2. And say at the interview, “hey, I’m applying at a few other places, so I’ll get back to you within a week”?
  3. Would it be better to put my GPA on my resume, or leave it off? It’s a 3.4, which is respectable but not outstanding, and I feel like putting it on gives a slightly unprofessional vibe. But it’s not like I’m dancing around my being a college student either. If you were hiring for middle-to-upscale shops in a small tourist town, what would you think?
  1. Of course.

  2. No. Don’t bring it up unless they do. Getting 2 or 3 offers at once is sticky though. The last time I was shopping my resume around I ended up with 3 offers in the same week. I picked the one that seemed like the job I’d learn the most from and would look best on my resume. It paid between the other two.

You can always accept a job and quit a day or two later for a better job. Don’t feel bad about this. The company would fire you in a heartbeat if they decided you weren’t right for the job.

  1. I wouldn’t bother. No one cares about school grades after you leave school. In fact, I don’t even bother listing my education on my resume anymore. I list what I can do and who I’ve done it for. I’ve another resume page to back up the first with references and contacts. That seems to work just fine.
  1. Certainly.
    (If you need reassurance, think of it from their point of view. They want an employee now. If all prospective employees only apply for one job at a time, this will take much longer.)

  2. If they make you an offer :slight_smile: , it is fine to tell them you will consider it and get back to them by a precise time. (You may want to ask when they would like to know by.)
    The reasons for you thinking about the decision include:

  • you’re a thoughtful person
  • you have other job offers
  • you need to see if the apartment you wanted is now free
  • you want to consult your family
  • you want to consult an astrologer

As long as you get back to them on time (or even sooner!), why does it matter to them which it is?

  1. If you’re still in education, then I would put your basic educational details on the CV.
    But your experience working in Libraries and on the University newspaper is far more important. Give (brief) details of your responsibilities and why you enjoyed the work.
    Employers want someone who has proven they can turn up on time and get the job done.

Employers don’t want people like this:

Once word gets around you do this, your employment prospects wither away.

Any just HOW would word get around? Perhaps if you live in a tiny town yeah.

Think about this.

  1. You apply for 4 jobs.

  2. A few days later you get an offer and take it.

  3. You start Job 1.

  4. Two days in you receive a better job. You accept.

  5. You tell Job 1 you don’t think it will work out and thank them for their time.

  6. A year or two later at Job 2 you start shopping around for a new job.

At what point does quitting Job 1 after two days come back and haunt you? If you work Job 1 for a few weeks I don’t see how it will have ANY standing on future jobs.

Even if you quit Job 2 after a few days and took Job 3, how would Job 4 a month/year later ever find out about short lived Jobs 1, 2 and 3??

  1. Absolutely, you’re asking for a job, not a marriage.

  2. Not at the interview. If you get an offer it’s good to ask for time to consider (24-48 hours) even if you don’t have other offers. That way you know you’re accepting on a cool head, and they know you’ve accepted on a cool head.

  3. Those companies who give a BEEP about your GPA will have a cell for it in their application form. In general, don’t give it. My experience with companies who considered GPAs essential is that they tend to hire the “turds with high grades nobody in school wanted to work with”. I’ve never seen a store that cared about GPAs.

Even the most menial of jobs require a bit of training before the employee is productive. The training, even if informal, will take a few days, to a few weeks. If you think it’s OK to leave during that time, would you also agree that the employer not be required to pay you for your time? After all, you’ve wasted their time, not just in the training aspect, but in the administrative cost of establishing you as an emplyee.

I’d be fine with not being paid for that time.

What if the employer wasn’t fully up front about the job before you started? People quit all the time for those reasons. Are you asking if these people should not be paid as well?

Look, we’re talking retail jobs here. Retail and fast food employers don’t see the single worker as an asset they see them as replaceable. They will drop the employee in a heartbeat if they see financial gain in doing it. Employees should only be expected to be as loyal as their employer.

But the OP DOES live in a tiny town.
Ashland, OR. Population 19,000. With most of the stores concentrated geographically into a very small area. So I could see word getting around.

I hired in a call center with high turnover so I’ll give my mileage on these.

Of course. They accept many applications, not just yours; why shouldn’t you be able to do the same?

Do not do this. Low-skill places want someone who wants the job more than anything. I would reject an applicant for this as it says to me “I will quit as soon as I’m trained for something marginally better”. If you receive an offer, it would be wise to allow some time but not say it’s for other jobs.

Most retail places likely will want you to fill out an application. If you have the opportunity to give a resume, why not include it?

And how would “word” “get out”? :dubious:

Why are employees required to give a shit about employers’ needs, especially in at-will states where you can be fired for nothing? Companies, employers and managers are always asking for this kind of consideration from workers and prospective workers, but when asked for consideration in return they say, “Hey, it’s business.”

So, don’t like employees who quit to gain better prospects? Hey, it’s biz.

Check out the job situation in your area. If you’re in a college town, things may be tight, but if you’re in a larger market where the economy is running along, retailers are basically desperate enough that many of them are just hiring warm bodies to fill their entry level slots. In my area, retail work had a 60 percent turnover rate two years ago. 60 fricking percent. If it’s anything like that in your area, it’s just a matter of putting in applications until you find a place that has an opening.

While there may be circumstances where leaving a job after a few days, or weeks, is justified, I think it’s a poor attitude to live by and if you make it a habit, it will catch up w/ you. If you must ask how, you must not have much experience in the job market, or life for that matter.
It’s not about the law, or how an employer thinks, it’s about you and your moral character and personal ethics.

I have very high moral and personal standards of ethics, but I recognize that corporations as a group do not, and that applying my moral standards in the totally amoral free market is not a good idea. I feel that my notions along these lines are in the highest tradition of American conservatism.

'Nuff said! :rolleyes:

Best advice given to me when I was in high school and applying for jobs -

Positive Attitude.

Everything else can be taught, but if you are enthusiastic and upbeat you have half the battle won, especially with retail or waitressing (which in my opinion is a better job for a student - you make more with tips).

I live in a town of 12,000 people. I regularly hear about good (and bad service) or someone being fired. Shop assistants call me by name, even though I don’t really recognise them.

But even when I worked in London for a national company, we had someone disappear at lunchtime on their first day. It was the stuff of gossip:

  • why had they done it?
  • where had they gone?
  • was it something someone said?

Firstly you could have told job 1 you needed time to think about it.

Next you have wasted their time spent on advertising, interviewing and training. They have to start again. There may even be an internal inquiry at the end of the month why an employee left so abruptly.
There may be an employment agency involved, who will note your unimpressive behaviour.

You could be discovered by people gossiping, people walking into your new place of employment, the employment agency or even a tax letter asking about your employmeny history.

Indeed are you going to put this ‘job’ on your CV?
Or are you going to lie about it?

One of my teenage jobs was working for a week to help cover the Xmas sales rush. In a small department store called Harrods…

I turned up in a suit for the first morning’s training on store procedure, but was mistakenly asked to help shift stock in the basement.

No doubt, Evil Captor, you would have walked out then…

Instead I politely told the foreman there was a mixup and started work.
After 20 minutes, they apologised and brought me upstairs.

I listened to the permanent staff and did my best. Most of the other students just did the absolute minimum.

On day two, I made a small but sensible suggestion about better use of the in-store PA system.
On day three, the floor manager asked if I would like to sell hand-engraved glass pictures. I duly mugged up on the artist making them, and did my regular job whilst offering to help anyone showing interest in the glass pictures.
On day five, I gave my usual sales patter about the glass pictures to a man who listened intently. He turned out to be the artist! :cool: He also commended me to the floor manager.
When I went to collect my wage packet at the end of the week (£10 = $20, which shows how long ago it was!), they asked me to step into an office and offered me a full-time position with future training for management.
I thanked them, but said I was going back to school.

I think that developing a good attitude to work, even in a mundane job, is far more important than walking out and hoping nobody finds you out.
It is undoubtedly true that there are companies who don’t care about their workforce. But adopting their attitude means you miss out on the great jobs.

As a teenager, I also worked short-term jobs in a tax office, an employment office, a stockbroker and on an information desk.
While doing these low-paid jobs, I talked to the regular staff at lunchtimes. (They were happy to tell me things.)
I learnt about the UK tax system, cheque counterfeiting, unit trusts and how the general public can be pretty ignorant and rude.

I also learnt what sort of job I wanted as a career.

Tracy Lord, every time I’ve looked for work, no matter what sort of work it’s been, I’ve applied for several jobs at the same time. If I’m involved in hiring someone, I assume that the good, competent candidates are doing the same. On the other hand, this isn’t the sort of assumption I’d mention in polite company. I have no problem with a qualified candidate asking for a day or two to think things over. To me, it indicates good common sense and impulse control. I’d be worried about a potential employer who insisted I make a decision that day and I’d be unlikely to work for them. It’s rather nice juggling multiple offers.

As for you, Seven, please do me a favour and don’t ever apply for a job at a company I work at. The IT department I work in recently hired someone we thought was a bright young man. All three of us liked him and thought he’d be a good fit. Unfortunately, he failed to turn up on his first day. He also failed to turn up for the rest of the week. When he finally returned my call which asked him what was happening, he told me he was “pursuing other opportunities” one of which paid more and would get back to him. After discussing the situation with my colleagues, I called him back and wished him luck with those opportunities because he was no longer working for us. I still kick myself for not asking what companies he was talking to so I could call them and let them know our experience with him. We were also tempted to call the company he had been working for and letting them know our experience. Because of his unprofesssional attitude, not only did we lose the time we spent preparing for him, we also lost our second and third choice candidates and the time spent interviewing them.

Glee and Poysyn make good points. Attitude, willingness to do, and willingness to learn count for a great deal.

Tracy Lord, here’s one other thing to consider. I’ve seen a lot of resumes over the past few years. You’d be amazed at how many have typos and unorthodox capitalization. I’ve even seen one where the woman misspelled the name of the town she lived in when she put her address on her resume. I know it’s trite, but do check it over. I’ve also found it helps if I print out a list of references and employment history and have it with me when I apply for a job. That saves a lot of struggling to remember dates and cities. Remember, when you’re applying for a job, you’re competing with everybody else who also wants or needs that job. Play to win.

Thanks for the nice Horatio Alger story. Unfortunately, there’s no relationship between what you’re talking about and what I’m talking about. You’re addressing what to do when you’ve got the job. I agree that making an effort to get along with others and to be helpful is a good thing once you’re working. Just don’t misunderstand the nature of the job market and your role in it while you look for work. If employers have no responsibility toward you, and here in the US that’s the general principle in play, you have no responsibility for them.