Indiana, PA - Indiana County

How to annoy an employer

by on March 19, 2017 12:49 AM

“Why did you come in here? To take up my time? You don’t even know what we do here!” said a store owner to a 16-year-old job seeker.

All I thought I had to do was walk into every business in downtown Altoona and ask for an application. This incident occurred over 50 years ago, but businesses still feel the same way about job applicants who do not know their business. It is one of the pet peeves of hiring managers.

Have you ever heard someone tell a young mother her baby was ugly? It’s almost the same thing when you talk to a business owner and are clueless about their business. Entrepreneurs in particular think of their business as their baby.

You will annoy the owner/hiring authority if:

• You ask, “What jobs do you have here?” or write “anything” in the jobs desired space.

• You have not kept up with business news. Perhaps the company recently celebrated an anniversary, expanded or won an award. Not knowing this is fatal.

• You ask questions about the job when the information was already given in the job listing or on the company website.

For example, an applicant was asked in a phone interview if he had read the company website. When he said no, the interview was over.

What to do:

• Network with current employees and community members to learn all you can.

• Learn the business product or service.

• Learn if the company is union or nonunion.

• Learn how many employees work at this business. Is it locally owned or part of a corporation or chain?

• Learn if there similar businesses in the area. How is this paint store similar to or different from other paint stores?

• Learn the history of the business. Have they recently hired or laid off workers? Go to the library and look at old issues of the local

• Learn about the business from ads over the past several months. What would the slogan “Tired of talking to a machine?” tell you about a business if it were a business supply facility? How would that help you prepare for an interview?

• Contact the chamber of commerce, which is a good source of information about a business. The chamber’s information will be factual, but don’t expect rumors.

• Get to know the company website backwards and forwards. Also check into the company on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Perhaps your interviewer will have a listing on Facebook or LinkedIn. One advantage you can gain by looking at a company or one of the managers on social media is to discover a connection to the person. Perhaps you have a common hobby with the person. Or attended the same college. Google the company name.

I advise job seekers looking for work in the retail or restaurant industries to take a scouting mission. Go to the restaurant as a customer. One lunch might give the job seeker a lot of information about how the business works.

Bob Lankard, a retired employment specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Indiana Job Center, is a job-search columnist for the Indiana Gazette. Read his columns on Sundays.
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