Be Watchful for Help Wanted Signs

by Bob King, Director of Employment Services, MAM


Today's high tech world has most job-seekers focused on finding jobs that are posted online.  It's hard not to believe that's where the action is.

But job seekers -- especially students who are seeking part-time work or full-timers who are looking for a moonlighting gig for some extra household cash -- should be careful not to miss the opportunities that are right in front of their noses virtually every day.


Tonight as I was picking up dinner, I came face-to-face with this "help wanted" sign on the front door of Tossed, a new restaurant concept focusing on made-to-order salads.   Having trained myself to start noticing these things, I stopped in my tracks to fumble for my cell phone / digital camera to record this tidbit for any interested MAM clients.

(By the way, if you are interested, the store is at the corner of Briar Forest and Eldridge in southwest Houston.  And the salad they created for me was dee-lish.)

There are some definite advantages to inquiring within when you see a help wanted sign.  First, you know the job is really open.  With an online post, it could have been filled weeks ago.  There's a lot of wasted effort chasing down online job postings that don't get taken down. 

Second, you get to talk to one or more real human beings -- and they get to meet you face to face.  If you have a great "elevator speech" and are comfortable meeting new people, this can definitely play to your advantage.

Tonight at Tossed, the staff noticed that I was studying the help wanted sign and proceeded to tell me how great it was to work at Tossed -- they even tried to recruit me, an old fat guy, to apply for the cashier slot they are trying to fill.  The manager wasn't on site, so I got to shoot the breeze with the staff that was making my salad.  I learned a lot that would have given me a leg up in an interview.  It helps to understand the business where you are applying for a job -- and by being an alert customer, you can come to the process with on-the-ground knowledge that you'd never have if your only connection with the business was an online job ad.

Third, by responding to help wanted signs in the ordinary course of your day, you are more apt to find a job close to home, or convenient to other parts of your daily routine.  With an online ad, if you even get the interview, you might find it is in Pearland, or Humble, or some other part of town so far away that the transportation costs would be a major factor. 

I believe if you open your eyes, you will see help wanted signs at a lot of places where you eat, shop, or take care of your personal business.  It could be the quickest way to find a job.

So, how do you put this plan into effect?  First off, dress to make a positive first impression every day.  If you never know when you might meet a potential employer, it pays to be ready.  Secondly, being ready also means having a supply of resumes in a portfolio in your car, or carried with you as you go through your day.  Having a nice, crisp, legible and sensible resume ready to go communicates that you mean business, and can be chopping up lettuce as early as tomorrow if the planets line up.  Finally, have a well-practiced "elevator speech" so you can put the opportunity to best use.  It's easy for the hiring manager to assume that if you can easily and confidently communicate with him/her, you'll also be a customer service asset to the business. 

Happy Hunting!


p.s.  Clients, volunteers and friends:  if you see a help wanted sign and want us to post it here, please just snap a photo of it and email it to me with the location of the establishment.  I'll get it posted for everyone to see.  Thanks.