How To Get a Job (and Keep It!)


If you don’t like washing dishes, waiting on tables, or playing “Joe the Gorilla,” you may not want to read any further!

But, if you are interested in landing a job in one of the world’s most competitive job markets, read on!

The restaurant business, whether it be a fast-food franchise or a sit-down situation, can be a prime target for teens who are seriously job hunting. The pay is good, and the work can be fun. It can involve everything from hiding out in the back dishroom to greeting customers at the door, or from keeping babies supplied with crackers to playing the local gorilla for a birthday celebration!

It is also an appealing field because many restaurant owners aren’t too concerned with an elaborate résumé of past work experience. Yet, opportunities for advancement in pay and responsibility are generally very good.

As owners of an ice cream parlor-dinner restaurant, we interview scores of young people every year who desperately want jobs but are not hired. And why? For reasons that could so easily be remedied.

The dos and don’ts of landing a job in restaurant work are simple and are fundamental to getting a job in almost any business.

Recently we were reviewing a pile of job applications that measured almost three inches high. The applications represented dozens of heart-rendering pleas such as “I need this job,” “If I don’t get a job, I will have to quit school,” “I … I … I …”

True, they pulled our heart strings, but they were nonetheless rejects for one reason or another.

In the midst of our sorting-out process, a bold knock came on the office door. In walked a smiling, confident, well-groomed teenager who looked happy to be alive!

“Hi! May I take five minutes of your time?” he began.

At our nod of consent, he boldly continued, “My name is Jack Taylor, and you need me!

Oh, sure; we silently eyed each other. What is this?

But he went on so sincerely and honestly that we couldn’t help but give our full attention.

“I come into your restaurant all the time, and I think it’s the greatest! But, you have one problem. More people need to know about your place. I really want to help you, and here’s one idea I have …”

He was so zealous about our cause and concerns, we sat back in amazement. Out of a hundred applicants, here was one who never said a word about his needs but only our needs. From a purely business point of view, we were impressed.

Jack went on to unfold his plan of dressing in Roaring 20s attire and going door-to-door all over town to tell people about our restaurant. He proposed that for every person who came in at his invitation, we pay him a certain amount—whatever we desired.

Did we hire him?

Of course! In mid-summer, when job openings were almost non-existent, Jack Taylor got a job.

It was only a few days later that a prominent local professor entered our door accompanied by his nine children and announced, “Jack sent me!”

True, Jack’s approach to us might have been somewhat brash, but the message he was sending us got through. His message wasn’t so much that he wanted a job as that he had the right attitude. During his employment with us, that attitude never changed. He always radiated a genuine concern for our best interest.

A few weeks later, another successful applicant approached us with this enthusiastic plea: “I would just love to work here, and I’ll do anything you need. Let me start as a dishwasher. I love to wash dishes!”

We hired her, too. And she didn’t remain a dishwasher for long!

So, on to specifics. These hints are applicable whether you are seeking full-time or part-time work

1st—be service-oriented

An employer knows you need money, and there’s nothing wrong with that motive, but don’t let that be your main motive. How rare was the girl who said, “I am not experienced, so I know I am a risk for you. I will work for free until you either feel my work is worth pay or you want to let me go.”

Develop the unselfish attitude of wanting to help your employer more than yourself. This attitude will win you a job almost every time (and a pay raise, too!).

2nd—consider the employer’s point of view

When applying in person without a prior appointment, always ask, “Is this a convenient time to talk, or may I come back?”

Learn about the establishment before you apply. Know the busy or peak hours, and then arrange your school schedule accordingly. You may be just what the boss is looking for, but if you can’t work his hours, you won’t be hired.

Use initiative! Be creative! Jack created a job that previously had not existed. Yet he filled a need and was hired. Perhaps some windows could use a cleaning or the front entry could use a sweep. Look for jobs to do. One boy came in and said, “Nothing looks better than having the front walk hosed down. I will come in every Saturday morning to do it, and you can pay me what you think it’s worth.”

He got a Saturday job.

3rd—come prepared

Know how to pronounce correctly the name of the restaurant as well as the name of the owner or manager doing the interviewing. Do some homework before you apply. It will show!

Bring a typed letter of recommendation from a former employer or a friend who knows your work capacity. A résumé of past work experience and school activities is also impressive and helpful.

Get good grades in school. This shows the employer that you care and can achieve.

Be involved in school activities. Often this is more important to an employer than past work experience. School involvement and leadership positions tell him you probably work well with people and can handle responsibility.

Live high standards. An employer has to hire employees who are honest in every way. A person who cheats himself in life—by drinking, smoking, swearing, lying, being dishonest, or not following a high moral code—will probably cheat his employer, too.

Ask questions during the interview. This tells the employer you want to learn. Remember, you are not on the firing line. The interview is a time for both employer and applicant to decide if the job is right for the potential employee.

4th—spruce up your appearance

Dress neatly. Let your clothes say, “I care.” Don’t wear levis, T-shirts, or overly casual clothes to an interview.

Look bright! Smile! Act happy! Show some energy! If you drag in sluggish and slumped over, you won’t have a chance, regardless of your qualifications.

Speak up! Talk clearly and with confidence. Look the employer in the eye, and speak so he can hear you the first time. If you are calling on the telephone, speak clearly. State your name and the purpose for which you are calling. Sound enthusiastic and intelligent!

Radiate orderliness—from a well-groomed appearance to a neat and legible application.

Lose weight if you need to. (But let a relative or friend be the judge. You have lived with yourself so long, you may not be able to recognize a problem.)

5th—be a solution, not a problem

Look for ways to improve the business, and offer yourself as the solution. Again, maintain the “service” attitude of “What can I do to help you succeed?” rather than “What can you do for me?” or “How much will you pay me?”

Be flexible. Let the boss know you are willing to be where you are needed, even if it means wearing a uniform or doing a task that will muss your hair-do!

Be a worker! That’s how to get a job and keep one! If an employer hires you on a trial basis, work your hardest! Don’t wait to be told what to do. Keep your eye open for what to move on to next, even if it’s polishing the doorknobs!

Strangely enough, to an employer there are many requirements that rate higher on the priority list than skill, although that is a definite consideration. Basically, an employer is looking for someone who can help him be more successful—and that is synonymous with enthusiasm, unselfish attitude, hard work, and honesty.

Job searching can be fun and fruitful if you base your efforts on correct principles. So, use your mirror and mind! Then muster up to get that job you want. Chances are, both you and your employer will be the winners!

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney