Get Your References Together Now

It’s not surprising to start pulling together a list of references when you’re looking for a job or planning a career move. What isn’t immediately clear to many however is the point in assembling your references when you are gainfully employed and have no career move in your immediate future. Good advice dear reader is to start compiling that list now no matter your situation.

The usual objections to lining up references when a person isn’t actively job searching are that its extra work to do so, and that they don’t want to confuse the people agreeing to be their references; getting them ready for calls that won’t be coming because no employers are being approached for employment. To the first objection I say it takes very little effort. To the second, your references shouldn’t be expecting calls from employers at this stage if you have properly advised them of the situation.

We all hope it doesn’t happen to us, but there are many examples around us where companies suddenly close their doors. In my community, I can think of two businesses which, in the last two weeks just closed up without any notification. One day they were there and the next they were locked; signage removed within a few days. The employees that worked for those organizations had in at least one of the two situations no notice whatsoever that this was about to happen just 24 hours earlier.

Now if your company closes quickly and you’re out of work you want to be equally quickly out of the gate and ahead of your former co-workers in applying for work. It could be a time of confusion, anger, resentment, shock, disbelief; and the last thing you should be doing is trying to pull together your résumé and job references when thinking rationally and being your usual upbeat self is challenged. This is a big case for keeping your resume current and having your references assembled.

Many times I’ve helped someone with their job search and found that they cannot find people who could best vouch for their work because they simply have no way of contacting them. They may not know someone’s last name, don’t have their contact information or simply have no idea where they’ve relocated to. Now is definitely time to pull such information together while you see these people regularly.

You don’t have to give people the impression you’re job searching with earnest and they should be expecting calls. No, that would be misleading, setting them up for calls that don’t materialize and disrespect them by putting them on alert.

A good practice is to approach potential references and seek their permission to get their endorsement of you in the event you wish to take advantage of an opportunity to advance yourself. You’re only requesting their contact information to be proactive and will inform them that should you actively begin a job search, you’ll do them the courtesy of letting them know you’ve put yourself in play, at which point you’ll issue them with your résumé and application information so they are then prepared. At the moment, they need not actually, ‘do’ anything other than agree to the request you’re making of them and supply their contact information.

So now, who to ask? Typically of course you’re after co-workers you feel a strong connection with; ones who value your contributions. You don’t want to start a rumour mill, so of course make it clear you’re simply being proactive. Similarly with your immediate Supervisor or others in Management, best to clearly tell them that they need not start thinking of how to replace you, you’re just being responsible and thinking forward. Reassure those you feel you need to that there is no immediate want or action being taken on your part to part ways. This wouldn’t be a good time to take home the family pictures on your desk for re-framing for example!

Once you have compiled this list of people willing to stand for you and back up your claims of experience and work performance, make sure you have this information available to you outside the workplace. Put it in the Cloud, on your home computer, in a filing cabinet etc. within easy access. The importance of this information will dramatically elevate when you need it and you don’t want to scramble wondering where it is should that time arise.

Look, it doesn’t have to be pulled out when there’s tragedy and loss; it just might be that someone puts a dream job in front of you with a real short timeline for applying. With a current resume you can submit an application on any given day and as for references, you’re doubly ready. Even if you never apply for another job, you’ll be practicing good behaviours and demonstrating to others how prepared and organized you are.

Honestly however, most of you who read this will agree the practice is good in theory but won’t do it for yourselves. This is the nature of such forward-thinking and advanced preparedness. Most people wait until the need arises and scramble to put together their resumes and find references.

Think about how unsettling job searching can be though. You can save yourself a great deal of anxiety and stress in the future by taking a few steps in the here and now.




Take A Short-Term Job? Why?

So you’re looking for a job. Excellent! Good for you. You even know what you’re looking for and it’s something you’re qualified to do in terms of your education and experience. The problem? It’s taking longer than you would have thought. Your financial resources are being depleted and the stress of unemployment is mounting. Sound familiar?

While it’s commendable that you have this narrow job focus and aren’t being distracted with the temptation of every job opening that comes your way, you’re entertaining the idea more and more of applying for positions other than your targeted career. Is this something you should or shouldn’t do?

These jobs you are thinking about applying for more and more are typically called survival or transition jobs. The idea of pursuing these kinds of jobs while at the same time still putting the bulk of your time and energy into your ideal career job has been around for a very long time. So if you’re thinking more and more about going this route, you’re in good company.

Let’s look at some of the pros shall we? So we are clear, you haven’t given up entirely on your career job. You’ve just come to the point where you looking at another job for the here and now. Don’t worry about that voice in your ear that keeps telling you if you seek out one of these other jobs you’re somehow a failure and have given up on yourself. That’s rubbish and can only lead to lower self-esteem and is anything but productively helpful.

First of all a transition or survival job (and from here on let’s use either one of these terms interchangeably) is short-term in nature. By short-term, the actual length can vary and is only intended to be kept once secured for as long as it takes to land your career job; a longer-term proposition and source of income. The fact that it is short-term should appease that fear you might experience of making a big mistake by taking one.

These jobs are typically entry-level positions in organizations and come with lower pay as a consequence, but the lower pay and the entry-level status also means you’ll have fewer responsibilities and that in turn means you should have both physical and mental energy left to devote to your career-based job search. Please don’t misread that I believe short-term transitions jobs are always filled by people who don’t have to use their brains whatsoever and you could do the job blindfolded. We’re all made up different and so the job you take as a sideline until something better comes up might at the same time be someone else’s career job bringing them great satisfaction. I’m not judging the people holding these jobs and you shouldn’t either.

As these are entry-level and lower paying positions more often than not, there is also a greater number of people available in the job market with the necessary skills to fill vacancies as they come up. Hence if and when you quit a short-term job you’ve taken as a survival job, the employer will have less of a challenge filling it come your departure. Less guilt for you if you’ve got a conscious.

A job by its very nature is going to provide you with income; income you need perhaps to pay some bills and keep your debt to a minimum. The nice thing about seeking one of these positions is that you’re likely to hear the words, “you’re hired” quicker than holding out for that dream career position you’ve been applying for. There’s likely only one interview, two at the most; and you’re in. That’s good for the self-esteem; ie. somebody wants me.

Another benefit of these jobs is the human connection. Job searching is isolating as in unemployment. It’s you against the world and it seems like you’re the lone wolf scavenging to stay alive. When you’re working in a transition job you benefit from being part of a team, meeting people and having adult conversations about just about anything other than your own lack of employment success. So even if you’re making someone a sandwich or selling them a sweater, what you’re doing is exercising your people skills; communication skills, customer service skills etc.

Play it right and you might also be working in a job where one of the other benefits is a break on the purchase of whatever it is your producing. Need some shoes and income? Take a job in a shoe store and perhaps you get an employee discount. Need to update your wardrobe? A job in a fashion store means they’ll want you wearing their goods, so count on some of your income going towards an outfit or two which could in turn become your new work clothes when you leave.

You won’t lose sight of your long-term objective in a short-term transition job. There are people however who have taken short-term work and found they liked it so much they actually stayed for years and it became their career jobs as they moved up the ladder. Hey, if you like it once there, why not?

Other benefits? They get you out of the house, keeping a good pattern of behaviour, fill up your gaps on a resume and get you current references. There’s a lot of good to be found in short-term survival jobs if and when you’re ready.


Why Volunteer? Take Me For Example

There are many reasons for volunteering in your community, and while many people advise job seekers to volunteer, it isn’t always immediately clear how that volunteer work is really of much help. I thought therefore I’d use my own volunteer experience as an example; share what I put in and what I get out of it. See what you think.

If you find yourself seated in the Academy Theatre tonight in the town of Lindsay, Ontario Canada, you’d be entertained with an amateur production of the play, Mary Poppins. Among the cast, you’d pick out my name in the programme, and I’d be one of two gentleman singing a song that opens the show. Yes, for the next two weeks, I’ll be one member of a cast of local people who will bring this musical production to life.

So how does volunteering in a local musical production on my own time in any way advance or promote opportunities for professional development, networking and any career aspirations I might have? (And of course, that you may have if you were similarly involved?) That is a great question.

For starters you have to look at the kind of people who are attracted to these kind of productions. In our cast, we have Teachers, Lawyers, a Judge, local business owners, Musicians, Social Services Workers, a Municipal Director, Attorneys, a Yoga Instructor, a President of a local non-profit association – and that’s just to name a fifth of the cast. In addition to the adult actors on stage, there are a number of child and teen performers who have parents in attendance. There are the stage crew, the orchestra, Set and Costume Designers, Painters, Seamstresses, theatre personnel, make-up people and Lighting Technicians.

Think about all those people with whom you could interact with over a few months right from the first casting call to the final curtain and cast party. That’s an awful lot of opportunity to mingle, introduce yourself, forge a relationship, share a beverage with, learn your lines with. The play becomes the vehicle which brings you together and gives you common ground to start those conversations.

In addition to donating your time and raising some funds for the theatre or the larger community, you just feel good having some fun. It can be a creative outlet for those who need it, a pressure release valve for those who work in stressful day jobs, and it provides some work/life balance. Another interesting thing you’d find is that families often share the stage together; this year as in the past, I’m sharing this experience with my wife who has a small role and is also a Stage Manager in the wings when she’s not on stage. In years past, my daughter was also involved and the three of us bonded through the musical productions.

Good people join these productions. The students are only those who excel in school and can handle the rehearsal schedules while keeping marks up. The actors are good people, many of whom are leaders in their community. With no one getting a single dime for this experience, the people are invested because they want to have fun and love it.

Okay, so here I am networking with all these people. Remember that old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” And have you ever said to someone, “But I don’t know anyone! How do I get to know the right people?” Volunteering is one way to go about it. The best time to actually volunteer is long before you actually need those contacts for your personal gain. In other words, now is the best time to get involved and volunteer in some organization where you live and where you want to work.

Now while I’m not actively asking my theatre friends for a job, imagine if I was looking for work. With all these people available to me, I could certainly put out the word that I was looking and would appreciate any leads on jobs or the opportunity to interview for one. Ah, the opportunity to interview…. The entire time I’m interacting with these people, they are seeing what I’m like to work with, whether I’m positive, helpful, supportive or self-absorbed, aloof, critical etc. Every rehearsal with them is a little piece they gather and add to whatever opinion they are forming of me. In other words, my entire volunteer experience with them is a long interview.

I could also draw upon these fellow thespians and ask them to stand as a reference; they could speak to my dependability, friendliness, community service, character etc. Sure I may not see them ever again, but I can tell you I’ve acted with some of these people for over 20 years..

So here it is opening night. I’ve made some new friends, had lots of fun and laughs, helped mentor some new to the stage, benefitted myself from others suggestions and look great due to the efforts of the Costume Designers. I’m at the stage where I’m the guy helping other men do their makeup; something I don’t get to say very often!

This volunteer work is on my LinkedIn profile; it’s on my resume / CV, and I have a separate theatre resume I use when auditioning for roles outside my local community too.

If you are looking to work or advance your career, consider investing in volunteerism.

Employment References

Recently someone asked me why employers ask for references. I couldn’t help but guess that the person didn’t have any which, as it turned out was true.

“Do they really matter? I mean are they going to talk to them anyhow? What if I just make some up and tell the interviewer that the companies moved and I don’t know where they are? Would that work? What if I just got some friends to pretend I worked for them?”

The short answer to this question is, “No! Don’t do it!”. Employment references are as equally important to an employer as they would be to you if you were looking for a Child Care Centre for your own children, or were hiring a Contractor to remodel your kitchen. The more you know about people, the more confident you are going to be in your decision. You want to increase the odds of ending up with a good experience for your child once in care; be happy with the renovation work done by your Contractor. Fail to ask or check for references and you run a higher risk of making a poor decision and regretting it. Well the same is true when employers are hiring.

Now a very good idea is to think about references long before you actually need them. You might be content at the moment in your present job, not seriously contemplating any change in your employer or looking for a promotion. Now is the very time to get all the contact information on the people you might need in the future. It should be easy enough to get the proper spelling, title, phone extension and email address of your boss and a couple of co-workers without raising suspicions. If something suddenly happens such as a plant closure or they take a leave of absence, you’ve got the information tucked away.

Traditionally, 3 professional (work-related) references are the norm, and possibly 1 personal reference. It raises concerns if you don’t use your most recent employer as a reference, so if things are strained in any way, try to smooth things over now before you actually need them in the future.

References are usually contacted – but not always. There are some employers that like applicants so much, they just don’t bother to contact everyone and trust their own instincts. That’s usually not the norm, but I have to acknowledge it does happen. Don’t bet on it in your own case however. Employers are protecting themselves more than ever these days, and one way they protect themselves is checking into the backgrounds of the people they hire. After all the interviewer only has  your word for all the wonderful things you say you’ve done and are capable of doing. References back up your claims of performance.

No references? Look at things from the other side of the table. You’re in your 30’s or 40’s and you can’t name a single person over the course of your lifetime that can vouch for your work history or your performance in any of your jobs? That’s pretty poor if you look at it objectively.

Say you got fired from your last job and are worried the ex-boss will not be willing to say anything good about you. Just to complicate things further, let’s say you have no contact information on any of your co-workers either; co-workers who just might attest to your work. This becomes a testament of your problem-solving skills. For starters, you should contact the company, leave your name and number and ask them to pass along a request for a return phone call from the people you worked with. When they do call, ask them to be a reference for you. As for the ex-boss; swallow your pride and speak directly with him or her. Tell them you are moving on, looking for other employment and need a reference; not a glowing endorsement, just confirmation of your start and end date. You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Some organizations actually don’t give performance references at all to protect the company itself. They have polices that just confirm start and end dates. If this is the policy where you worked, stop sweating and put the contact information for Human Resources down on your references sheet. On the other hand, if the boss is going to roast you alive if someone calls looking for a reference, you can warn an interviewer, briefly explaining the circumstances and what you’ve learned from the experience. The potential employer will appreciate your honesty.

Of course create an online profile through a social media platform such as LinkedIn. It has a section on your profile where you can publicly share recommendations others have made about you and your work performance. By sharing the hyperlink with employers right on your resume, they can look up these recommendations in advance of your first interview, see what others are saying about you, and this can motivate them to have you in over other applicants.

Invest in some volunteer work as another option. Whoever supervises you where you volunteer might be an excellent future reference.

The key is to think about your references now, especially if you are working. Stressing about having no references isn’t something you should be doing as the interview is winding down for a job you really want and need.

LinkedIn: Don’t Teach It If You Don’t Get It

“My teacher in College told us we should be on LinkedIn but I don’t get it. They said it’s like Facebook for grown-ups. What does it do?” I’ve heard this sentiment expressed almost word for word with three different College students I know just this past week alone, the latest only yesterday. It almost makes me wish those introducing LinkedIn to their students would skip it entirely if they don’t really get it themselves.

Yes it appears from talking with these students that their teachers told them they should be on LinkedIn but didn’t go on to demonstrate to them exact what they could do with it. The result I’m noticing is that these students either don’t see the point in even attempting a profile, or they start to construct their profile and stop almost immediately, leaving little more than a shell which then has the undesired impact of being entirely underwhelming. Ouch!

Telling college-aged people that LinkedIn is like Facebook for grown-ups accomplishes two things; it makes them think it’s just another socializing platform and this demographic is turning away from Facebook in droves, so it’s like being saddled with something else they don’t want. In other words, you’re not turning them on to LinkedIn at all, you’re turning them off.

Yesterday there was 10 minutes left in the day when a placement student who was sitting behind me suddenly said she didn’t get LinkedIn and didn’t know if she should be on it or not. I turned to her and said, “Well, in my opinion if you don’t use it you’re a fool.” Notice what I didn’t say is, “if you don’t GET ON IT you’re a fool.” There is a huge difference between just being on it and knowing how to use it and maximizing its benefits.

She’s 21 and I’m 55. I’d like to use this experience in some future job interview when the interviewer shows concern about my ability to grasp and use technology! I’ve been using LinkedIn for years now, and she didn’t know it’s been around for years.

So I started my pitch. “What do you want at this point career-wise?”, I said. “A job in Probation”, she replied. So I then asked her how valuable it might be to assemble a room full of people currently in Probation, all at various levels of seniority, then have a corner of the room full of job postings solely in her field, and as she walked around the room she could join various conversations people were having related to probation. “That’d be great, you mean like a convention?”

Okay so LinkedIn would expose her to these people through connecting with people currently holding positions in Probation. It would also allow her to find them discussing mutual points of interest in the group functions, so she could join and be surrounded by people with similar career interests. Jobs in the Probation sector can be searched for filtering the opportunities in her geographical area, as well as by entry-level, and by connecting with others, she could even ask for advice, inside information about a company or an opening. It’s still who you know much of the time, so you should get to know people.

I asked her to tell me when it’s appropriate to give an employer your professional references in the application process. To this, she replied she’d be taught that you only give these at the end of a face-to-face interview when they ask for them. “Old school”, I said. I told her about recommendations and how employers can read what people are saying about you if you’ve got them BEFORE you even get the call inviting you for the interview. No recommendations and how good can you be? Lot’s of recommendations and your value rises.

“I’m going to make a profile”, she said. I told that was a good move, but as our 10 minutes was up and just before we left for the day I told her I’d only scratched the surface of what she could do with it. We agreed that next week when she returns we’ll find more time to talk about it and how to make it productive.

Like anything else, the best person to learn from is someone who not only knows more than you do, but who can communicate it in a way that you find meaningful and can understand the personal benefits to be realized from. Those who didn’t like math in school usually complained, “I don’t see the point. I’m never going to use that in real life.” Same goes for those who didn’t get Chemistry, Geography or English Literature. If there is no practical application understood, why learn it?

My pitch for LinkedIn is that no matter what discipline or line of work you choose to pursue, connecting with professional people who are in that field has to be valuable. Don’t have the time to invest in using it? That’s your personal choice and I respect your right to use it or not, but understand it first and what it can do for you, and what you can do for others.

Facebook for grown ups? Facebook is, “Look at what I had for dinner!” “Here I am taking a selfie – boy I’m good!” LinkedIn is, “I’m launching or advancing my career and in doing so enriching my life.” Maybe it is for grown ups after all!

Writing A LinkedIn Recommendation

“I can’t thank you enough! I wish there was some way I could thank you.” Well you can and there is. It’s called the LinkedIn personal recommendation.

Perhaps this has happened to you personally where you have received some helpful advice from a colleague through LinkedIn, or you may have worked, (or work presently) with someone who is in your LinkedIn network. If you find yourself in either of these situations you are in an excellent position to share your experiences and describe for the benefit of others how effective your colleague has been or continues to be.

Consider the value in writing a recommendation for the person receiving it. Suppose for example that someone you are aware of is in the process of transitioning from their current job and looking for other opportunities. In this situation, you can assume rather safely that potential employers might receive the person’s employment application and then assign someone to go check out their profile. This is what employers are doing now in most cases before even extending offers of interviews.

So you can imagine how beneficial it would be to your colleague if an employer were looking at their resume, checked their LinkedIn profile, and there was a solid recommendation from you sharing your experience interacting with the person. “Hmmm”, says the employer, “it would appear this candidate has really made an impact. Impressive; I like that.” Now instead of the job applicant saying they are the kind of person who makes an impact, there is third-party evidence that this is in fact the case. It’s like an employer getting an independent reference prior to the invitation for an interview instead of the traditional way of asking for references at the end of one.

The recommendation should not just be saved for people you have personally worked with either. There are people you may be aware of whom you interact with on a fairly regular basis through discussion groups too. You could know of someone in a group who steps up when calls go out for help and advice. Maybe someone you’re aware of who continues to lead a group, regularly contributes to discussions and provides you with ideas to stimulate you yourself to pause and think.

Now let’s look at you personally. Suppose you’ve gone about creating a profile, and not really understanding what it’s all about, you’ve asked everyone and his brother to be a connection. Those 500+ connections are impressive. However with no recommendations, something you may not have intended could become clear; a lot of people know you but no one will back up your work with a recommendation – why is that?

Endorsements are welcomed too but they don’t mean as much or carry as much influence. Sue they are extremely beneficial, but I’ll bet you might have some endorsements from people you don’t know all that well and even you are scratching your head wondering how they know you well enough to endorse you. That never happens with recommendations and that is why they are more valued than endorsements. Endorsements involve a click, while a recommendation takes longer to pen and requires thought.

In my own case, I really value receiving recommendations. They are valuable to me because they legitimize and validate me to others. Recommendations boost my own self-esteem, reinforce my motivation for doing what I do because of the impact I’ve made on someone, and the future may see me at some point wanting or needing such external validation should I find myself looking for new work. I know too that if someone were looking over my profile trying to decide if I could help them out, they’d feel in good hands if I’ve obviously helped people in similar situations to their own.

Another group of people who may look over a profile could be your Recruiters or Head-hunters. If a company employs them to search out talent, they themselves might be impressed with someone who has recommendations and initiate contact with them over someone who has no recommendations in the same line of work. The thinking is that if a person has helped out other people and made a difference, there is a greater likelihood they can repeat that success elsewhere.

Should you ask for recommendations? Why not? If someone were to say to me, “I wish there was a way to properly thank you”, I’d request they write me one. If someone said, “I don’t know how to thank you”, I’d tell them how they could.

Sadly, there are a number of people who only take and don’t give back. They will seek out help from others and once that help is given, the person doing the asking disappears and cuts off contact. Hey it happens. It is professional courtesy to both receive and give, and when you think about it, reciprocating with a recommendation that might take you under ten minutes to write is a far cry from someone who reviews your resume, sends you some advice, or even helps improve your LinkedIn profile!

Unsolicited recommendations are by far the most treasured. Out of the blue you get a notification that a colleague has penned you one for you to read and display if you wish on your profile. Beautiful. All it takes is going to a person’s profile, scrolling to the, “Would you like to write a recommendation for so-and-so?” and clicking yes. You may get one of your own in response!

Great Customer Service Creates Jobs

As it’s mid-December, there are large numbers of people world-wide that are making the trek into stores and shops to browse and make purchases for Christmas gifts in addition to the regular shopping they do. This is therefore a time when all shop and business owners would do well to remind their staff about the importance of providing an exceptional shopping experience.

It’s overly simple actually and in an employees own self-interests to excel. Ensure that customers get personalized, attentive service and they’ll come back as well as spread the good word. This in turns means increased sales, more revenue for the employer, and hopefully more hours of work for the employees. And those seasonal employee’s that they took on for the higher crowds might make themselves invaluable to the employer in the process and find themselves hired beyond Christmas only.

The flip side is equally true; stores that don’t rely on great customer service and leave a shopper to find things on their own may find customers leave empty-handed, they then pass on negative experiences to their friends and don’t return themselves. Those seasonal employees don’t generate income for the store, and the store owner dismisses them after the holidays as per their contracts and moves on.

Do some shop owners and large businesses take the increased profits and terminate all the seasonal help anyhow after December? Sure some do. However, if you are an employee trying to catch on, on a more permanent basis, you only improve your odds of being hired longer if you are friendly, customer-focused, complete sales and make additional sales of merchandise.

As an employee, you are also generating a positive reference, putting current experience on your resume and filling in any developing gap when you take a seasonal job. Think of things this way; even if you are looking for a job in a field outside retail, this short-term position is still developing transferable skills you’ll use in the future and providing you with a number of possible answers to those interview questions in your future.

Think about it. You’re dealing with people and that means possible problem-solving experience, dealing with challenging situations, working on your sales pitches and how to sell a product. You’re also getting first-hand experience that could apply to the ‘teamwork’ question. So this short-term job you’ve got could be the current experience you need to demonstrate you have relevant skills to an employer in another field; the one in which your preferred job is found.

Right from the start in some seasonal job, you’d also be wise to think about the last few days you are employed in December. You’re going to probably want to ask your Supervisor to be a positive reference for you aren’t you? So now is the time to work to impress yourself upon them. Being friendly, helpful, willing to do the little things that are asked of you outside the job you were hired to do, and contribute to the stores financial well-being, that could really solidify your value to the Supervisor, and in turn help you when your future employer calls to check up on your performance. Think ahead!

Now on the other hand, there are people who will get hired for Christmas help and go through the motions. They only look as far ahead as the end of their shift, put in minimal effort for minimum pay, and feel that if the employer wants to make huge profits off of them, they should be compensated more than minimum wage. If you feel this way, you probably will have a less enjoyable experience working, and it will show. Don’t appear shocked and hurt in the future if you ask for a good reference and the Supervisor is reluctant or just gives you an average one. It has to start with you.

So it’s not too late being in the middle of the month. You’ve got time to put in a stellar effort and turn things around. Each day you get a choice to do your best or not. And more than each day, you get a chance to change your attitude and increase your performance and therefore value to an employer throughout the day in any given moment. If it doesn’t come naturally to you to be overly friendly and helpful, try it out on the next customer. Interacting with a single customer will only take a few moments; ten at the most I’d reckon. Can you ‘fake it until you make it’ for that short period of time? If you can, duplicate it with the next person, and so on.

Rather than being jealous of other salespeople who have awesome customer service skills, think about watching and learning from them. Even going up to someone and complimenting them on their abilities and asking for their help in developing your own people skills is good advice. We all learn from each other, so why not learn from people who do things better than us?

Be attentive, be friendly, welcome people to the store, thank them for coming in, ask if you could assist them. Tell people about any specials you have and if they want to be left alone, tell them you’ll be happy to help them and all they need do is ask when they are ready. Leave your cellphone in the backroom and focus on your job.

May you have a good seasonal employment experience!