Today I’m guest lecturing as part of a Retail Customer Service class at Goodwill. I’d like to say I do it for purely altruistic reasons, but in fact, I enjoy the opportunity to tell job seekers all the things I could NEVER say if they were in my office interviewing for a job. Every manager who has been responsible for hiring knows exactly what I mean and is right now emailing me “Tell them THIS!”
Some of you may have – or may even be – a recent grad looking for work. Have a student still in school? Share this with them NOW so they can start thinking and planning for their job search. Perhaps you have decided to make a career change yourself. Here is SOME of what I will share with the newest participants in Goodwill‘s training program.
To start I will ask each person to name the store where they want to work. This is step one to finding not just a JOB, but a job you will LOVE. That sounds like it’s a job search tip rather than the opening for a class on Retail Customer Service but that’s because I approach Customer Service from a different perspective. You see, I believe Customer Service is a reflection of how we FEEL – about ourselves, the people we work with and the company where we work. If you are excited to come to work because you love where you work, you naturally will deliver better customer service.
So “Anywhere.” is NEVER an acceptable answer to the question “Where would you most like to work?” It’s okay to have a few at first, but , much like finding a mate – you can date several people but in the end, you marry ONE. In this case, your “dating” is both on line, networking and in person.
Is there a branch of your chosen employer nearby? You need to go visit. Walk all the aisles. Look at the merchandise they carry, the way it is displayed, announcements that are made while you’re “shopping”. Can you see yourself working there? Filling those shelves? Making those announcements? Do team members approach you and ask to help you? Do they even greet you or make eye contact as they cross your path? Did you ever see anyone on the sales floor? How are they dressed? Do they share any common characteristics? This should be the first of MANY visits you make as you prepare to go to work for them – even if they don’t yet know it!
Spend some time on line researching the company you selected. News such as mergers, store closings, new locations being announced all will have an impact – positive or negative – on your career. Set a Google Alert for your new company so you get links to news in your email. Also sign up to receive the emails the company itself sends. You can always unsubscribe later.
I had asked you to observe the existing employees in terms of dress, characteristics and approach while in the store. “Characteristics” include facial hair, excessive piercing, gauged earrings, visible tattoos, unusual hair coloring (pink, green). What do they wear? Khaki pants or skirts and a red polo shirt (Target)? Black collared shirts and tan pants(Game Crazy)? All black with an accent color(Gene Juarez)? Most retails chains have a dress code. Sometimes it’s specific such as those mentioned – other times it’s just a “look”. Observe; Short or long sleeved tops, jeans or skirts/slacks, footwear – tennis shoes or dress shoes, accessories such as ties, earrings and jewelry. The more you can look like you are already a member of the team – the closer you are to being one!
Once you’ve begun to model the appearance of your new team – start asking everyone you know if they know anyone who works there. Get introduced and pick their brains about what it’s like to work there. Be sure you already have adopted their “look” before you meet in person. You want them to leave thinking “This person should work with us” so they will help by recommending you.
Yes, I know that much of that sounds like good job search advice but again – it’s important to LOVE where you work. When you do, no one has to tell you to answer the phone promptly, speak warmly, make eye contact or treat customers well – it comes naturally!