When the economy is doing well, many companies—especially those in the hospitality and retail sectors—expand their outreach to prospective applicants by posting "help wanted" signs at their businesses. Applying for one of these jobs has some advantages: you know there are open positions, and you may be able to get hired right away.
Depending on the type of job you're applying for, stopping by an organization to apply in person can be an excellent way to make a positive impression and secure a job.
Learn when and how to ask for a job application, what to bring with you, what to wear, how to introduce yourself, and the best way to follow up after you've applied.
When to Apply In Person for a Job
Many employers in the retail and hospitality sectors expect job applicants to apply in person. So do employers who hire for summer and part-time jobs. Applying directly to the employer can be a good way to get your application noticed.
In a way, asking to make a job application in person is like engaging in a mini job interview. At the very least, you’ll have a chance to impress a potential coworker, and you might even get to meet the boss.
It’s essential to prepare just as you would for an interview. Make sure that you’re all set to make a positive impression.
Here's guidance on what to bring with you to apply, what to wear, what to say, and how to follow up after you've applied for the job:
What to Wear
It's important to dress appropriately and ensure you have a polished and professional appearance when you make your inquiry. In general, you should dress a bit more formally than would likely be expected as standard at your target organization. When in doubt, it is better to overdress than to underdress.
Take the time to dress appropriately because your first impression can make a big difference when it comes to getting hired.
How to Introduce Yourself
The easiest way to ask to make an application is to figure out what you're going to say ahead of time. If you're nervous, take some time to practice. Prepare a short 15-second introduction (also known as an elevator pitch) to garner the interest of whomever you first meet.
Your introduction should mention your interest in working with that employer. For example, you might say:
"Hi, I'm very interested in any office jobs which may be available for college students. I am a detail-oriented business major with strong computer skills and experience with interacting with the public, from my admissions job on campus. Could I please pick up an application form if one is required or drop off my resume?"
"I'm very interested in a summer job, could I please have an application to fill out?"
"Hi, I am Annie Leonard, and I'm interested in applying for the job that's posted on the front window. Would it be possible to get an application form, please?"
When you're asking for an application form, handle it the same way as if you were arriving for a job interview. Make sure you show respect to any receptionist or another seemingly low-level employee because they may have the power to decide on the spot whether you should be considered for any vacancies.
Smile warmly, look the person in the eye as you greet them, and exude enthusiasm. Everything else being equal, a polite, friendly, and motivated candidate will receive greater consideration. If you were hiring for a job, wouldn’t you want to choose a person who seems pleasant to be around?
When to Fill Out the Application Form
You can either fill out the application form right away or take it with you and return it when it's complete. If the employer has space for candidates to complete application forms, they may invite you to complete the form on site.
Otherwise, you could complete the form nearby (say in a café) and return with your completed application when you're done. Be sure you have all of the information you need, including your education and employment history, and references. Bring two of your own pens in case the first runs out of ink.
Another option is to pick up the application form and complete it later. It's fine to take the application back home and return it another time. If you do, you'll be able carefully and accurately to complete it and to make sure there are no errors. Ask a friend to proofread your work to make sure you haven’t overlooked any errors.
Be sure you have all of the information with you that you'll need to apply. It will be an easier process if you're prepared with all information you need to complete the job application. This includes employment and educational history, contact information, and your availability.
In-Store Job Application Systems
Large retail employers may have hiring kiosks instead of paper applications. With this type of system, you make your application on a computer in the store. For example, Walmart and Target have hiring kiosks in all of their stores.
Some employers have set days and times for applicants to apply. For example, a company may have walk-in interviews from 2 pm - 4 pm every Thursday. For this type of open interview event, be prepared for an on-the-spot interview for the job.
Employers may also hold career fairs where they hire for multiple positions. Be prepared to interview during the event, because the company may be hiring for immediate openings.
How to Follow Up
When you've submitted a job application but haven't heard from the employer, it can be a good idea to follow up. Stopping by to check on the status of your application will show that you are interested in the job and will give you another opportunity to make a good impression.