more bad job advice from parents

A reader writes:

When I go on job hunting journeys to my local mall, department store, etc., I at times know which places I want to work for and which places I don’t. For example, two years ago I really wanted to work for a gaming store due to my love of video games, I figured I’d be a good fit, though of course I didn’t think automatically that I was the best fit nor would definitely get hired, I just felt I’d enjoy it, and would be able to do the job well due to my knowledge of video games and systems. The manager and employees all knew my by name but I knew they were always the type of store which had very brief hiring periods, and I never could be sure when they were or weren’t hiring.

My mother advised me that the best way to get a job is by coming by and dropping off a resume every few days, that way I’d be kept fresh in their mind and at the top of the pile. Close to the end of the summer when I was dropping off another resume, the manager kindly let me know that there still weren’t openings but he’d keep me in mind and there was definitely no chance of my resume getting lost in the shuffle….as he had an entire file folder of my resumes by then…..

Am I wrong, or was my mother’s idea basically what cost me ever getting hired? I mean wouldn’t applying every couple of days be better every like two or three months? or just once a month or something? I feel the idea of hers might have been because of this company’s short and sporadic hiring period, but I honestly don’t see how handing in a resume every other day for two months is going to give them any indication that I’m a good employee, but more just a pest. They never told me off for doing it, but I still kind of think, yeah this wasn’t the best idea.

Yes, it was a bad idea. What is to be gained by turning in a resume every few days?  It’s bizarre, it implies they don’t recall who applied just a few days ago, and yes, it’s overly aggressive.

Stop listening to your mother on this topic. In fact, stop listening to any job advice that sounds intuitively wrong to you, can’t offer you a logical explanation for why it would be effective, requires that you annoy others, or makes you uncomfortable to enact.

{ 30 comments… read them below }

  1. Erica*

    I would love to hear more about the conversation that transpired every time you dropped off your resume. “Hi, I’ll take this copy of Final Fantasy. Oh, and here’s another resume. When are you getting Medal of Honor in?”

  2. Joanna Reichert*

    This isn’t 1954 or heck, even 1984. You can’t walk in somewhere, meet the manager, shake his hand, and come in to work the next day. Good or bad, there are now a million steps in place in the workforce, and we’re never going back to the good ol’ days.

    If people would use their common sense, spellcheck, and use this great new tool they call “the internet”, then they’d see in about 3 minutes enough sound, proven tactics to choke a horse. That way the old, terrible advice and subsequent actions based on that advice would cease to exist.

    Then again, if all companies and employees kicked @ss, what would AAM write about?

    1. Josh S*

      She would write about her kitchen remodel and her broken foot and her kitties, and probably only 3 people would read this blog.

      I’m glad for the dysfunction, because AAM rocks. (And as much as I like the humanizing parts of your blog like the kitchen, kitties, and casts, those aren’t the reasons I come to the blog. :p)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is true. And I know this because I’ve secretly been keeping a separate blog about my foot (seriously), and shockingly, no one is reading it :)

        1. Erica*

          That’s because I can’t find it! Notice all the searches on your blog today for “foot”? That’s me, trying to find your damn foot blog.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Ha! I never posted it here, because it’s very, very weird. It’s basically me entertaining myself by turning the foot into an evil character, and its title has the F word in it (not “foot”), making it NSFW. With that caveat, it’s here.

            1. Cube Ninja*

              Someone is swearing on the internet! Quick, call the decency polic…. oh, that’s normal? Carry on then.


            2. Joe*

              Now that we know it exists, we’ll all be eagerly following the adventures of the foot!

              (And seriously, that site is brilliant. There’s a reason you’re one of the only bloggers I read, and it’s as much about your style as your content. Both are equally amazing.)

    2. fposte*

      It’s probably a lot closer to that model for retail, though. I don’t think it was necessarily the approach of face-to-face application that was the problem–it was pushing stuff when they weren’t hiring.

  3. Heather*

    When I was 16 and looking for jobs, my dad would always tell me to drop off my resume in person, then call every few days to see what the status was. His reasoning? That they would dig through the piles of resumes, pull mine out and voila, now it’s on top.

    When I told him how annoyed some of the people sounded at my repeated phone calls, he refused to believe me and would encourage me to continue calling. It took a while to land something. Sigh. Parents…

  4. Julie*

    On the flip side, I’d say it wouldn’t be a bad idea to gently ask the store manager whether there are any job openings once every month or two, when you happen to be busying something anyway. I wouldn’t bring in your resume that often, but if you happen to be chatting with the manager, you could slip in a, “By the way, has anything opened up recently? I’m still interested if there are any open positions.”

    1. Laura*

      I totally agree. Since the OP seems to know the people in the store, it’s fine to use that connection for networking. Gently asking if they have any openings or any seasonal work, or if they know of another store (if it’s a chain like Gamestop) who is hiring is not a bad idea.

      1. Sean*

        OP here, you’re correct it is the Gamestop chain :P Unfortunately at the time my only other stores were in a city about 45 minutes away and though I go to school there, I didn’t live in the city full time so you can see my reasoning. I still every so often ask them, though to be honest I’m starting to feel customer service isn’t for me anyway.

        1. Anonymous*

          Hi Sean. I’m a former GameStop manager. I realize this may no longer be relevant to you, but maybe it will help other retail applicants.

          Unless someone quits or is fired, hiring for seasonal employees (which is virtually all the company ever hires–I started as a seasonal making $6/hour and was rapidly promoted) begins in September or October, depending on how busy the store is. Turning in a well-timed application, with or without a resume, is very effective. Maybe try one application during the first week of September, then follow up and have a second “updated” application ready to go, if requested, a month later, if you haven’t heard anything.

          Make sure your application is filled out neatly and is very legible. Because my store got 200-400 applications per open position, I refused to struggle with someone’s awful handwriting. If they couldn’t be bothered to take their time filling out an application, I couldn’t imagine them patiently explaining “what-all comes with a Wii” to 80-year-old ladies all holiday season.

          If you do get an interview, make sure to emphasize how much you like helping people, selling things, and being friendly. If you focus on video games, the manager will (usually correctly) assume that you’ll stand around talking to employees about games all day, or worse. I did sometimes ask “What’s the best game you’ve played lately?” but it was only to test the applicant’s sales skills. Seasonals are going to be talking primarily to moms, grandmothers, and other gift-givers with no gaming experience, so demonstrate that you can break down a complicated idea into a few simple sentences (“I’ve been playing Mass Effect. I love the story, and I like how your decisions affect what happens to other characters.”)

          Remember that the basic responsibilities are: greeting and thanking people, selling PowerUp Rewards/Game Informer subscriptions effectively but politely and with a positive attitude, answering a small repertoire of simple questions, and explaining to customers why they should preorder upcoming games. Answer the interview questions in a way that demonstrates your ability to do these things, and a good store manager will notice.

  5. Joey*

    I’d suggest thinking long and hard about what kind of job you really want. Working there just because you love video games is naive. If you love stocking, cashiering, being distracted by all the video games you’d rather be playing and working with a small staff which means less flexibility then go for it.

    1. fposte*

      But s/he’s looking for retail work at the mall–those characteristics pretty much apply across the board. There’s something to be said for maximizing the situation by picking a place where you’re familiar with the staff and the product.

      I’m not guaranteeing that there’s no naivete involved–we all know the “I want to work at a book store because I could read books all day!” folks–but if you’re hunting for a local hourly retail job, it’s not bad to start in a place where you’re comfortable and knowledgeable.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        I worked at a bookstore when I was “between jobs” and spent my pay AT the bookstore. At least I got the employee discount.

        I should have looked for a job at a grocery store, although I don’t know if they get employee discounts. But it still would have made more sense.

    2. KayDay*

      A lot of retail stores have staff discounts, so if you are going to be working in an hourly retail job, you might as well work somewhere where you can take advantage of the discounts. Also, his knowledge of video games may be really helpful to the store–he would be able to direct people to new games similar to their interests, or would know the latest rumors about what game is coming out. (Similarly, if I go into a hardware store, I want the associate to be able to tell me what tool I need to fix my broken dishwasher, and to do that the associate would need to be interested in/have knowledge of home maintenance).

      That said, just go in occasionally (like once a month) and very politely ask when they will be hiring next. Don’t drop off a new resume. If you get to know the managers/supervisors by being a really cool customer, they may take more of an interest in you as an applicant when a position opens up.

    3. jmkenrick*

      I would disagree with this. If you’re looking for retail position, finding one that sells a product you’re interested in will make you much more effective. I don’t play video games, but I imagine it’s an area where it helps to have some knowledge so you can converse with customers & answer their questions.

      Worked in a bookstore through college & highschool (best job ever, despite how boring shelving can be) and loving books was by far the most important quality for the job.

      1. Joey*

        Sure it helps to have a passion for a product, but thats not going to get you the job and there tons of other factors you should consider before applying.

    4. Sean*

      Actually these days, I know it’s not the place for me. For one thing I’ve noticed that compared to the days back then, now customer service jobs simply drive me up the wall. Love the people I worked with in those situations, but did not really enjoy people coming to me to complain. I know I’ve been a customer myself before, only difference is I generally try and talk to the person helping me, and recognize that they’re helping me, rather than treating them like shit because of an accidental mistake they made, like I’ve been treated. Just a word of advice, not to the people here because they clearly have brains, but yeah, the customer is not always right.

  6. MLHD*

    I’d say every other month is reasonable. I have worked at jobs where they really only look at the most recent resumes turned in when an opening is available, but if someone turned in a resume to me ever other day I would assume there was something seriously wrong with them and/or they lacked basic common sense, thereby making them NOT a good fit!

  7. Anonymous*

    I love my parents dearly, I really do. They both had successful careers and are quite intelligent. However, they aren’t infallible and their advice has always been based on life before the internet. My advice to the OP is to just do what I do…smile, thank them for the advice, and then quietly do it your way.

  8. Emily*

    I don’t think your chances of working there are forever ruined. But trust your guts next time when someone gives you bad or outdated advice on job applications.

    If they are hiring and you apply, if the same manager is there you could even joke “And this will be the one resume I drop off this time.” Or something.

    1. Sean*

      Thanks Emily. Actually I have recently moved to the city where my school is located, so I won’t actually be applying at the other store. So there really isn’t…a worry anymore lol.

  9. hey*

    I don’t think it would ever be necessary to drop off a resume at Gamestop or other retail place, unless you are applying for a mgmt position. I worked in retail in college, and most of those places have applications available when they are hiring.

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