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How To Apply For A Job

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Applying for a position is not merely going to see a man to find out whether he will give you a job. If you apply with that attitude, you will have an excellent chance of refusal. Your attitude of mind is all important in finding employment; therefore preparing yourself mentally is the first step in making an application.

Make the Right Approach

Take the attitude that you are not asking a favor. You have something to offer—your ability—and you want to place that ability where it will give the best service and yield you the greatest returns. This doesn't mean that you should be defiant, smug, arrogant, or cocky. It means that you should know definitely what you can do, and that you should be as interested in finding the right employer as an employer is interested in finding the right employee.

Remember that in large organizations employment and personnel managers interview thousands of applicants yearly. Few of them stand out from the crowd. Most of them can do anything, will take any position, and don't care what the salary is, just so they get work. A few try to appeal to the interviewer's sympathies by telling how desperate they are and how discouraged they have become. All these approaches are wrong. When you apply for a position, take an impersonal attitude about yourself. Think of yourself as a salesman who has a commodity to sell. If the employer to whom you are applying can use the commodity, he will buy it provided it looks satisfactory and you can present the proper sales arguments.

Know What You Have to Sell

Before you can make any kind of sale you must be thoroughly familiar with the product you are offering, and you must be able to tell what it can do for the prospective purchaser. When you are trying to sell your services, ask your-self what you have that the prospective employer can use. Here are the seven main commodities of interest to


1. Your formal education—your high school and college training and special courses

2. Your informal education gained by reading, observing, traveling, and living

3. Your business experience

4. Your social experience

5. Your health and vitality

6. Your personality

7. Your character

Before you apply for a position write out what you know about yourself in respect to these seven subjects. Do it care-fully and use it for reference if you are asked to fill out application forms.

Know Your Market

When you have your analysis of yourself before you, consider what positions you could fill satisfactorily. Never tell a personnel manager you will take "just anything." If you don't know what you can do and what you want, personnel managers will discover that you lack definiteness and determination.

When you have listed the positions you can fill, make out a list of firms for which you would like to work and which could use your services. Learn all you can about the firms before you apply for a position. Know why you want to work for them and determine how you could be of special value to them. Then you will be ready to start a round of interviews in which you are to sell yourself.

Your Appearance Is Your First Sales Argument

Of course you should always look your best, but it is especially important for you to appear neat, attractive, and well groomed when you are making a personal application for a position. Then watch your posture. Walk into an office briskly and with an alert, erect bearing. If you must wait for a few minutes, seat yourself gracefully. Never lounge or sprawl. Display no annoying mannerisms.

When you are actually in the office of the person who is to interview you, your opportunity to sell has arrived. Be sure that your appearance is in your favor; that you look alive, vital, and sincere; that your expression is one of interest and friendliness; that your smile is genuine; that your attitude shows poise and confidence; and that your manners are perfect. It might be well to check your knowledge of office etiquette, as discussed in Unit Five, before you start out for your interview. But especially remember not to smoke unless you are invited to do so; don't offer to shake hands unless the interviewer makes the first gesture; don't chew gum during the interview; don't lay your hat or other belongings on the executive's desk; don't fidget or let your eyes wander.

Don't expect your interviewer to do all the talking. He wants to find out what you know and how you express your ideas; therefore you should not limit your replies to yes and no. Answer questions promptly, definitely, accurately, and fully, but keep to the point. If the interviewer's questions don't give you an opportunity to tell him why you want to work for his particular firm and what special training, experience, or ability you have for the position you are seeking, don't hesitate to give the information as soon as you have answered all his general questions.

In your conversation, try to show your questioner that you know your work, that you enjoy working, that you are mentally alert, that you are ambitious, and that you possess initiative and resourcefulness. What you can do is important, but what you display of your personality is even more important, for of two applicants with the same amount of training, ability, and experience, that one will always be chosen who has the more attractive personality.

Your future happiness and security depend largely upon your success in finding the right employment. You can't afford to take "just any job" and you won't be obliged to, if you seek your place in the business world with all the intelligence and ability you can bring to the search.

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