Updated: Sep 20
As the Director of a local business, we take on a lot of local staff. It’s part of our ethos, part of why we exist and part of our mission. We want to give people a shot that others might overlook and we do everything we can to train and work with staff to give them the best possible chance of success.
That said, we’re still a professional organisation and when we’re looking for staff, even though we’re not necessarily looking for experienced professionals and qualified graduates, there is still a very basic level of how you communicate that will massively increase your chances of securing a job. With that in mind, here are our top tips for finding your first job.
1. Taking the initiative helps
We like when people approach us for us for work. It shows a keenness, a desire to work and a bit of initiative rather than simply spotting a job advert and fancying it. Putting in your CV and messaging potential employers is your best shot at beating off the competition to a role.
2. That said, first impressions are vital!
There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t receive a message to our facebook page like this.
any jobs going at the minute
When I receive a message like this, you’re unlikely to receive a reply let alone a job. This message has just told me 3 things about you.
1. Your customer service skills are non-existent
2. You are not going to work hard for me
3. You don’t really care
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. When you send someone a message, especially someone you are hoping to impress, start with a greeting. Hello, Hi there, Dear Sir/Madam… anything will do. It’s polite and how we begin messages to strangers.
Introduce yourself. Who are you? What are you looking for? I might have several roles going but I know nothing about you or the type of job you would like. I don’t have time to sit typing a reply about those roles with no information from you.
Use basic punctuation and write in full sentences. I’m not expecting you to be Shakespeare, I do expect you to know that sentences are a thing and that they start with a capital letter and end with a full stop. Not using the most basic punctuation tells me that you don’t really care.
Be polite. Not taking the time to write a polite, short message asking about jobs currently available suggests to me that you don’t really want a job, that you don’t care how you come across and therefore don’t understand good customer service.
3. Make your application stand out
You may have no previous experience, but you can still make your application stand out. Here are some instant application fails.
- Not using basic punctuation. Again we’re not looking for Shakespeare. Don’t use fancy words that you’re not totally sure how to use or what they mean, do start sentences and names with a capital letter and end them with a full stop.
- Telling me you want money. We always give people chance to explain why they want to work for us. Like most employers we want employees that understand and care about our company, our ethos and what we do. If your answer to ‘why do you want this job’ is ‘because I want money’ I’m not going to employ you. Everyone wants money, I want to know why you want to work for me. What do you like about us, what draws you to the role, what can you offer?
- Minimal information. The more you tell me about yourself on your application the better. Taking the time to write it tells me you care. The more I feel I know you, the more likely I am to want to give you a chance.
4. Don’t get mum involved
When parents approach us for jobs for their children, it suggests that your parents want you to get a job but you’re not really fussed or motivated to go out and get your own. Ask them to check your application and CV, ask them to help with searching, but deal with the potential employer yourself.
5. Interviewing well
Dress for the occasion. Don’t go out and buy new clothes, but feel free to borrow if you have nothing suitable. It may only be a Saturday job, but making an effort to look professional at interview will make you stand out and will suggest that you care and you’re taking it seriously.
Smile, even if you’re nervous. A smile suggests good customer service, friendly and endears people to you. It’s fine to be nervous, but a smile will go a long way.
Answer the questions fully. One word or very short answers make things kind of awkward and we don’t want to fight to try and glean information about you. You’re there to tell us about yourself so feel free to do that, the more information the better. Knowing you better will give an employer more confidence to employ you.
Try to be enthusiastic and focus on what you can offer rather than what you need. Employers love to hear the difference you will make to them rather than the difference they will make to you.
6. Be willing to volunteer
Finally, this is the one thing that will make you shine over the competition. There’s no interview like doing the job itself, and being willing to give up Saturdays for a month or two for us to get to know you or to have something solid to put on your CV is by far the best way to get yourself to the top of the list. When a job becomes available, you’re always going to be first in line if you’re already there and doing the job well vs an unknown person that has just applied. At worst it gives you something good for your CV and experience and best gets you a job as soon as there is one.
Whatever type of job you’re after, if there’s no role available yet ask if you can volunteer or get work experience. Chances are it won’t be for long and will make all the difference.