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Leaving the nest ASAP
September 11, 2012 1:01 AM   Subscribe

How do I get a retail/ food service job ASAP without prior experience? (Limit: 2 weeks)

I am essentially the OP's daughter in this question.

I would like the start supporting myself ASAP. I have had a few interviews for full-time jobs, but they didn't come to fruition. I am continuing to apply for full-time jobs.

Thanks to my parents, I haven't had to work part-time jobs. However, now I lack retail/ service experience. It will be a while until I get a full-time job, with the whole process of networking, interviewing, hearing back...

In the meantime, I MUST start working. Is applying online a feasible way to get retail jobs? I feel like I've been applying into a black hole even for PART-time jobs.

1) What method is most direct for retail/ food service jobs?
2) How do I get a retail/service job without prior experience?
Bonus) If anyone could look at my resume for part-time work, please and thank you so much.
posted by ichomp to Work & Money (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apply in person for restaurant and retail jobs. A big part of the decision will come down to whether or not you click with the hiring manager, and you can't convey that onscreen nearly as well as you can in person.

For restaurant work, go in at off-peak hours: 2pm was usually a good time when I worked bar and restaurant. DO NOT go in during the lunch or dinner rush and expect anyone to take you seriously -- we always threw those resumes in the trash.

Do you have a degree, or some previous studies under your belt?
posted by third word on a random page at 2:46 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Third word gives great advice. Don't apply online, DO go in person during non-busy hours.

Be clean. Dress nicely- no ripped or stained clothes, but always have a smile and speak with confidence. Have two working pens on hand and contact information at the ready for references.

If you've done volunteering, church activities, babysat, use it to your advantage in terms of experience and skill. I handed in resumes and CV's in addition to filling in the applications, which was probably overkill, but I feel it showed some gumption.

Keep showing up and make a great impression at as many places as you can. Get people to like you and be familiar with your face. I showed up at least 5 times to one family-style restaurant before they interviewed and hired me on as host. Then a fast food place called back that afternoon.

If 15 year old me can get 2 first jobs this way, then you can, too.

Whenever you do gain employment, do the best you possibly can to keep your cool, stay out of drama with coworkers, and be the most reliable employee that establishment has ever known, even if your supervisors and customers turn out to be not so great, or worse. Depending on the size of your city, retail and food service can be a small world.

People will talk about you if they like your work performance and attitude. I didn't have to apply to my current gigs- my current supervisor remembered my service as a host when he went out with his family, hired me in part-time, and promoted me to full-time in retail with decent pay and benefits; The previous manager from the family restaurant had me on the "Good" list in their little black book of contacts when a new bar opened across town.

Feel free to me mail for resume help.
posted by Giggilituffin at 5:07 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Before you get any job in food service in California, you'll need to get a "California Food Handler Certification". There are about a zillion places online that will sell you one for something like $10. Showing up at a restaurant with one of these in-hand will help with finding a job in food service much, much easier.
posted by carsonb at 5:07 AM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I recommend a restaurant job since you'll make more money and have more opportunity for advancement within the restaurant. Go in person between 2 and 4. This is a good time of year to apply as a lot of restaurants are hiring for the fall season. However, a lot of places won't hire people with no experience as SERVERS, but will hire them as hosts/hostesses. That is usually hourly with no tips, but it gets you in the door and you can ask to start serving once you've proven yourself as a hostess. Generally - though not always - the better the restaurant, the more experience they require. So if you're applying to Ruby Tuesday's, you can apply for a server position. If you're applying to a Melting Pot, apply to be a hostess.

Go to literally every restaurant. Dress a step above the type of restaurant you're applying to. Restaurants normally want hostesses/servers who look nice (like, you're not going to come in looking like a slob) so dressing business-casual is the strategy I've successfully used. Smile a lot. They want friendly people who will make the customers feel welcome.

Lastly, another point for restaurant over retail is that a lot of people stick with restaurant jobs they hate because of the money. People quit retail.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:10 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lastly, another point for restaurant over retail is that a lot of people stick with restaurant jobs they hate because of the money. People quit retail.

This is a generalization, but brings up some valid points.

1) How much money you make as a server can depend on your clientele, mood, and location. But yes, you can make good money serving, and it can be fun.

2) Retail can suck horribly, but this is a great time to get applications in for seasonal positions. Discounts on stuff you'd be buying anyway can be handy, and a stable paycheck if you aren't working on commission. My retail company is progressive enough to offer upward positions to current employees. Browsing through the OP's previous questions regarding media/advertising, I know some team members that are transitioning from store manager to marketing/advertising/merchandising. For the OP, it might be worth the pains of retail to get a foot in the door for their field of interest.
posted by Giggilituffin at 5:30 AM on September 11, 2012


Work *all* of your contacts. You are within a few degrees of knowing someone who works at a bar/restaurant/grocery store etc. I used to work at Whole Foods - the pay was decent and I never went hungry - and I got the job because a friend of a friend recommended me to his team leader. And yes, apply in person wherever possible.
posted by rtha at 5:53 AM on September 11, 2012



Third word gives great advice. Don't apply online, DO go in person during non-busy hours.

Be clean. Dress nicely- no ripped or stained clothes, but always have a smile and speak with confidence. Have two working pens on hand and contact information at the ready for references.


Really good advice here, and this is the moment to apply for retail. Some places hire seasonally with an option to keep you on after the holidays. Apply to lots of places. Don't take any lack of interest personally. You only need to get one job and the choice of people to hire is often somewhat random.

(Quite likely, I don't need to say the following to you, but just in case.) When I've worked in retail, I've been surprised at the number of applicants who've not done the things Giggilituffin recommends, or who have actively made a pain in the ass of themselves when coming in to apply. Don't interrupt an employee who is helping a customer in order to ask for an application. I can't count the number of times I told someone I would be right with them and they said, "I just have a quick question: where do I apply?" or "Can I just get an application real quick?" Believe me, this gets you noticed, not in a good way. You are not a customer the day you apply, and customers come first. If you're in a hurry, don't go on that day. And don't place the application on the customer service desk and start filling it out; go sit somewhere out of the way. Basically, don't be high maintenance right out of the gate.

If you are applying to a chain retail outlet, you can Google them and find out what their interviews are like.
posted by BibiRose at 7:17 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


For sure, go in person during a slow period. 2-4 is the most optimal time.

If you're foxy, you might want to check out working in a "gentlemen's club". You don't have to be a stripper but you could be a server or a coat check girl. (If you're a girl.) If you're a girl and if you're interested, you can start stripping right away. (If Diablo Cody is to be believed.)

Any job where tipping is a thing will ALWAYS be better than a counter person at McDonalds.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:25 AM on September 11, 2012


In addition to the above advice, consider how you speak. Some people have vocal mannerisms that aren't appropriate for dealing with customers. The vocal fry (The verbal tic of doom: why the "vocal fry" is killing your job search) and speaking as though everything is a question (A very funny ('cause it's true) poem about critical thinking*) seem particularly common in young people.

*The video is funny and true, but has nothing to do with critical thinking.
posted by she's not there at 11:01 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are interested in food service but find waiting tables daunting, try applying to be a hostess. You probably won't make as much money as a server but you will get to know the restaurant business. Also go for more casual places for your first food service job, rather than fancy white-tablecloth places.
posted by radioamy at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2012


Oh if you are given a paper application to fill out, take it home and return later or the next day. That will give you time to get all the information you need together. You could even do the old college app trick and make a photocopy and practice filling that one out first.
posted by radioamy at 1:47 PM on September 11, 2012


In my experience, there are two keys to getting retail work, and neither of them is on your resume.

1) Apply EVERYWHERE. You should fill out dozens and dozens of applications.

2) Open availability. They care less about your experience on a cash register and more about being able to schedule you whenever the hell they want.
posted by that's how you get ants at 7:20 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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