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Advice For First Time Job Hunters

Updated on September 30, 2014

Before You Accept That Job Think...

  • What is the pay going to be like? How much are they willing to pay you? Will they pay you hourly or by commission?

Being paid hourly means that a company will allow you to get a certain amount of money for every hour you show up. If you're getting nine dollars an hour and you're working five hours that day, you will make sixty dollars by the time you leave.

Being paid by commission is different, you get paid by your performance level and by the amount of sales you make. If you make X amount of sales that day you will get a percentage of those sales. It all depends on how good the business is, how many people want that product, how much the product costs, how good you are at selling, etc.

  • What are the work uniforms going to be like? Sometimes when you work in a retail clothing store, places like Hollister and Abercrombie will make you buy and wear their clothes as your uniform. But, other places like Cotton On and Charlotte Russe wont care as long as you follow their dress code. If you apply to places like a grocery store or a movie theater they will most likely provide you with a work uniform.

Personally, I don't mind having to wear a uniform as long as I don't have to pay for it. I've been working at retail clothing stores for a couple years now and the places I've worked at didn't really have a dress code besides "Don't come in with sweats or look too slobbish." Just find a place where you'd be decently comfortable working in.

  • What are the hours going to be like? Will they be flexible with your schedule? Will you have any time to yourself? Will you be getting enough hours or will the company have you on "call?"

Sometimes what a company will do if they don't have enough hours for everyone is they'll put some employees on call, which is basically another term for a fill in. They'll give you a phone call or contact you in some way and tell you a few hours before they need you to come in that they need you to work and expect that you'll come in whenever they need you. Most of the time this is going to be very inconvenient and I personally don't think it's really worth it. If you have set plans for the day already and you're on call, just be prepared to drop everything you're doing and head into work.

Asking about hours is the first thing you should do before you accept any type of job. You have to make sure your work schedule is flexible enough to fit in with your personal schedule. If you're in school you have to keep in mind that you are going to need time to go to class and do all your school work, but you also want to make sure you're getting enough hours for work too.

If you're working four hours a day twice a week it might not really be worth accepting. You do want a decent amount of money in that pay check. But also remember, the amount of hours and pay offered will increase over time, even if you're getting minimum wage at first it's always good to have some experience for your resume when you are trying to land a better job opportunity in the future.

And remember, if the job your applying for won't work with your schedule, apply for a different job, you can always find a different one.

The Interview

Interviews can be very nerve wrecking, because you're being judged off of a quick conversation. But, don't freak out! Most interviewers know that you're going to be nervous. Companies are usually looking to see if you're a decent person and if you can handle the job given to you. You're going to want to impress your interviewer, but you're limited to a short amount of time. There will be some question your interviewer will ask you, where you won't have an answer right away, because you weren't mentally prepared for this question or you can't think of the right answer. The questions asked on these interviews I've been on I feel are very repetitive. Most of the time these questions are pre-planned and you'll have to think quickly, you can't just answer with an "I don't know." To help you prepare I've made a list of commonly asked interview questions that you might want to think about before going into your interview.

Some Commonly Asked Interview Questions

  • What do you have to offer the company?
  • What is your greatest performance strength/weakness?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Are you able to work weekends/holidays?
  • How well do you work with other people?
  • Have you had any previous job experience?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you like most/least about this company?
  • What is your dream job?
  • Are you currently in school? What are you majoring in and why?
  • How have you handled a difficult situation?
  • How well do you handle pressure?
  • Do you have any pet-peeves?
  • Do you have any questions you'd like to ask me?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to say to me before we're done here?

Extra Tips

  • Don't be discouraged if you can't find a job right away. A lot of places won't hire people without any prior job experience, but that doesn't mean you can't find yourself a job. There are plenty of opportunities out there! Collect and hand in applications from several companies, then pick and choose from the ones that do call you back.
  • Don't cower under your boss. Even though they have authority over you, don't act scared and weak. If you do then you'll most likely be taken advantage of and you won't get the best shifts. Try to build a decent relationship with your boss and show them that you're a good worker, because if you do then they will be willing to promote you faster.
  • Make sure you like the employees you are going to be working with. You don't want to dread going every time you have to go to work. There will always be that one coworker that you're not going to like, but just focus on doing your job and you should be fine. Don't give them a reason to report you to the boss.
  • If you work at a store, one of the perk is that you're going to get discounts! So try to find a place where you like their products! A lot of food places will give you free food or at least heavy discounts. Dunkin' Donuts has to get rid of the food by the end of the day, so if you're working there and there are any leftovers you can just take them home!

What was your first job?

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    • Mena Guy profile image

      Mena Guy 3 years ago from New York

      It really is! Especially for first-timers. I know it took me a while haha. Thank you for reading! :)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for this article, Mena! It really is hard to just get your foot out the door and find a decent permanent job.