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Tips for Applying for a Job, Written By an Employer

Updated on May 28, 2013

We Need Employees... You Need a Job

I'll just start this article out with a true story that just happened this month. I was looking for one awesome new employee to add to my fantastic team of employees. I placed a HELP WANTED advertisement on my local Chamber of Commerce website and Facebook, CraigsList, and a few other sites. I was very clear about the details of the job, the pay, the hours and HOW TO APPLY. My requested method of application was "Drop off your resume any time during store hours. Email resumes will not be accepted". (As a note; the reason I do not accept email resumes is 1. Because I am not going to download a virus, 2. If someone cannot make the time to drop off a resume, they likely will not be a quality employee, 3. I am often at my store and like to actually meet people right then and there.

So let's move on to job applicant mistakes and how to get a job tips:

MISTAKE 1: Not Following Directions

Even if you are desperate for a job, before you email your resume, READ the posting. As I mentioned above, I specified (in bold print) that I WILL NOT ACCEPT EMAILED RESUMES. I bet I got 50 emailed resumes. I didn't open a single one. I'm sure there were plenty of great candidates but since they can't follow directions, I am not going to waste my time on them.

Other job postings will request that you email certain information, such as your hours of availability, references or even a sample of your work as a certain kind of file (a PDF, JPG, etc). If you don't read the posting and you don't follow the directions, the potential employer is going to assume your work ethic is the same; it is assumed you will be careless and unable to follow rules / requests.

MISTAKE #2: Your Email Address

I have said this so many times - as an employer, when it comes to entrusting an employee with inventory, money or anything else; we analyze everything before hiring. One thing I look at is the applicants email address because I believe an email address says a lot about a person. An email address is something the individual selected to represent themselves; if the email address is something I deem unprofessional, I can assume the employee will ultimately portray the same behaviour. An example of this is "princess(your name)", "Sexy(name)" or, the worst ones I have seen on applications are references to drugs ( - BAD, BAD, BAD.

If you want a job that takes you seriously, make an email that is professional. For example:

If you find that both of the above are taken, then opt to include your middle initial.

MISTAKE #3: Not Researching

Again, I have said this so many times - it takes 20 minutes to research a company - DO IT BEFORE your interview. In fact, do it before you walk in the door with your resume. You will look like an idiot if you know nothing about the company, yet you will look like an all-star if you impress the company with facts about their company and how YOU can be an asset to it. If you are knowledgeable about website building, during an interview, you NEED to state "I noticed your website doesn't showcase your amazing (blank). This is something I could have up and running in (blank days / weeks / months)" - just make sure you know what you are talking about before you offer advice.

I used to do work for other companies to improve their business(es) prior to opening my own. Every interview I walked into was a breeze; I could tell the interviewer where they fell short and exactly what I can do to improve it ON A BUDGET OF NOTHING or next-to-nothing (with the exception of my pay, of course). Every interview was a slam-dunk.

MISTAKE #4: Arriving Empty Handed

NEVER arrive empty handed. Always bring a note pad, pen, an extra resume and anything else you can think of. The most annoying thing ever is when I have to provide the person I am interviewing with materials so they can write down dates and times. It just makes me wonder if they are lazy, careless or simply don't think things through.

It's even worse if the individual has a business card or other materials that they "accidentally left in their car" and need to go get, thus sucking up more of my time.

MISTAKE #5 - Acting Desperate, Even if You Really Are

Finding a job can be very difficult, but one of the worst things to do is come across as "desperate". Never beg or say things like "I will do ANYTHING to work here, I need the money so bad" - because, from an employers point of view, while it may sound like you are very dedicated, it also raises the question of if you are in such desperate times that you will steal.

Instead, use your desperation in positive ways; explain that you are able to "pick up shifts" or "work any hours, including weekends".

MISTAKE #6 - Outright Lying About Experience

if you don't know how to use a computer program, don't say you do. If you have never preformed a specific REQUIREMENT of the job, just be honest about it. Honesty will get you much further that lying. Many times, an employer may be able to overlook your lack of know-how in a specific area if you are exceptionally strong in the other areas. Think about it from an employers point of view; if someone is a total all-star in 5 out of 6 requirements, it may be worth it to the employer to train the new recruit on the one requirement they are missing.

Mistake #7 - Arriving Way Early or Late

It annoys me to no end when I schedule an interview to be for 2 pm and the individual shows up at 1:30 pm. While I appreciate their effort to prove they are prompt, I now have to change my plans to compensate their exceptionally early arrival or continue working while they stare at me. Arriving five or ten minutes early is sufficient. If you arrive over 15 minutes early you may want to consider waiting in your vehicle.

Arriving late is by far a giant red flag to any employer. Even if you got "pulled over", a flat tire, "stuck in traffic" or your vehicle wasn't starting - as an employee it is your duty to make sure you take all of these possibilities into consideration and leave yourself enough time to arrive when scheduled.

Mistake #8 - Availability

If you attend school / college, have to pick up your children at a certain time or cannot work the hours the employer needs you, be sure to be very clear about what hours you CAN work and when your schedule changes and IF you are able to do anything to modify your schedule to fit the employers needs. If you cannot modify your schedule (i.e: scheduling all of your college classes on one day or finding a babysitter who can watch your children) then be very specific, upfront.

As an employer, there are specific time slots we need filled. If the employee cannot work those time slots, that does not mean they won't be hired; it may mean that two employees need to be hired or the schedule might be able to be changed to compensate the new employees hours. But employers must know upfront.

Mistake #9 - NOT "Tooting Your Own Horn"

Like Donald Trump says, "if you don't toot your own horn, nobody else will" - whatever your accomplishments are; SHARE THEM!!! If you are an expert at ANYTHING, share it! Sometimes you may apply for one job but actually be a better fit for the company in a different position. Employers often do not have the time to read every resume, so we skim them and look for certain things. One thing I always look for is experience and accomplishments. Accomplishments do NOT have to be related to the position you are applying for. Accomplishments simply show that you have, literally, accomplished things, which makes you look good to an employer.

MISTAKE 10 - A Bad Resume

Make sure your resume STAND OUT....and not by looking awful. Your resume needs to be clean-looking, easy to understand, easy to navigate and making it a little flashy is a total MUST. Use a resume service if needed.

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