• Getting a Service Industry Job

    January 30, 2013 by
    Lauren Knight

    Lauren Knight, Shiftgig

    No one really tells you when you’re sending in those applications, but there’s so much more to college than a dorm room and a major. For many, it’s the first taste of freedom. You get to decide where you eat and when you sleep and how many parties you hit. There are no curfews to adhere to or elders to whom you have to explain your comings and goings.

    There are darker clouds on the horizon of that bright future too. Worries about money can put a strain on students, as tuitions continue to rise. Student debt is a heavy reality that can cause a lot of stress for new graduates. Whether it’s in preparation for that eventuality, an effort to shoulder some of that immediate burden, or just for some pocket money to make sure the college years are lived to the fullest, many students decide to take up a part-time job. No other industry serves their schedules and needs better than the service industry.

    It’s common to find a college student making your coffee, serving your table, or ringing you up at the register. The shift organization of the service industry offers the kind of flexibility most students and recent graduates need. Working around classes or job interviews, they can make a schedule that offers a balance of school, work, and free time. If something throws a wrench into the plans, co-workers are usually able and happy to help each other out. Other perks help make life easier for students as well, such as discounts on food, drink, and merchandise at their place of employment.

    You may not guess it, but service industry jobs can be a great thing to have on a resume as well. Sitting behind a computer may show technical skill, but the interpersonal and problem-solving experience built behind a bar or among tables can be just as powerful. Workers in the service industry have to think on their feet when an order gets botched, deal gracefully with pressure during a lunch or dinner rush, and relate with customers to ensure that their experience was a good one. These are valuable traits that hiring managers in any industry love to see in a candidate.

    So what’s the best way for a fresh hopeful to get into the service industry scene? Traditionally pounding the pavement was the only option. Walking from place to place, leaving resumes and hoping for the best is exhausting and a waste of time when there are readings to be done and a new Call of Duty challenge to dominate. These days it is common for students to take to the web to search for job openings. Employers using Craigslist and other job board sites get bombarded with tons of e-mailed applications, however, and it’s easy to get lost in the rush.

    A new kind of application is starting to take hold, combining the resume with the personality of a social profile. Social networks are central to the lives of students these days, and employers know it. This is particularly important in the service industry, where word-of-mouth and connections help build business. Social strength is a big plus in their books. However, most students aren’t psyched about the idea that potential employers are peeking into their private lives.

    To bridge that gap, social hiring has sprung up, offering what the employers want to see without infringing on privacy. Websites like Shiftgig allow college students to create a profile, add their work and education experience, tell a little about themselves, and share photos. They can even display their connections on other social networks without exposing their actual profiles. With this kind of robust and personal resume, suddenly students and graduates can stand out from the crowd and give employers a face to the name.

    It’s a time-saver as well. Once a profile is made, it can be used to apply to any job on the social hiring network. Employers can search through candidates as well, reaching out even if you haven’t applied to them. With a profile working as your recruiter when you’re not around, that opens up your schedule for that paper you’ve put off for a week, or to see that band that’s playing at the local bar. (Let’s face it, it’s going to be the latter.)

    The service industry focuses on giving the customers what they want, and nobody leads the trends like the socially-conscious generation now searching for jobs. With the flexibility of shifts, perks of employment, and a hiring system that understands the way college students present themselves, it offers the best opportunities for students and recent graduates trying to get a step up on finances and successfully list that degree on their resume.

    About the author:

    Lauren Knight is a new implant in the city of Chicago by way of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Having paid her dues as a server and a barista, she has a lot of love and respect for the service industry. You can find her articles at Shiftgig.com.

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