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Jobs Q&A: Advice from an expert to help you on your job search

I wanted to find out good things to do and things I shouldn’t do when looking for a job. So I talked to Alma Salazar, who oversees LA Youth at Work (no affiliation with L.A. Youth), an organization that helps teens prepare for their job searches. There were things I didn’t know, like dress up even when just asking for an application and call to follow up (but not too often). These tips will be helpful if you’re looking for a job. —Patricia Chavarria

L.A. Youth: Where should teens look for jobs?
LA Youth at Work:
Really hitting the pavement and going to local places is your best bet. Most of the fast-food places and franchise chains most likely will not advertise their job opportunities online. They’ll just put a notice on their window.

Who is the best person to turn in an application to?
Usually the best person is the manager or assistant manager. You definitely want to give it to someone in a decision-making capacity.

I heard that when turning in an application it is always good to turn in a resume as well. Is that true?
A good resume, one that’s mistake free, will definitely make you more marketable and it may increase your chances of getting hired. Having a resume is good but if it’s riddled with typos, spelling errors and grammatical errors it might hurt you.

What should I do after I turn in my application?
When you turn in your application make sure you are dressed in business attire. First impressions are everything, even before you turn in your application. When you go and ask for an application, right then and there you’re making a first impression. You don’t want to go in showing a bare midriff or wearing baggy pants. Imagine the type of impression you’d make if you came in a suit and tie or nice business slacks to ask for an application.
lllllOnce you’ve submitted your application, it never hurts to follow up. You want to say, “I’m really interested and I’m just checking” and they will remember you.
lllllOne thing that frustrates employers is when they call a cell phone to schedule an interview and they have to listen to a three-minute song intro. Just “hi this is so-and-so please leave a message.” No four-minute Lady Gaga song. Also, have an e-mail address that’s easy to type, you don’t want lovelybutterfly24. Just your name.

What are some interview tips?
One definitely is always maintain eye contact with the person who’s interviewing you. Anticipate what some of the questions might be and be prepared to articulate what your skills are, what strengths you bring to the position. Even if you don’t believe you have skills, chances are you do. Our recommendation is to go through a mock interview. Never say “I don’t know” or not respond to something.

What should a person do when they can’t get hired because of no work experience if no one gives them a chance to have experience?
That’s a good question. A lot of kids do volunteer work but they’re not very good at including it on their job applications and their resumes. I don’t know how many kids I’ve talked to who’ve done baby-sitting or helped on a work site for family members or helped out at a swap meet. All of those are good skills that students don’t include. And getting involved in extracurricular activities at school is another way.

Does a person’s appearance matter? Would many tattoos and piercings decrease someone’s chances of getting hired?
It’s going to depend on the employer and the type of job the student is seeking. Employers are becoming more open to those but I still think students need to balance those things with what’s proper in the work environment. If you have an office job, cover up where appropriate. If you have a piercing or tattoo it doesn’t mean you won’t be taken under consideration, but you also need to be aware of what’s appropriate for the job you’re applying for. That’s going to vary from someone working in the front office to someone working in a movie theater.

Would someone who went to a regular high school get a job over a person who went to an alternative or continuation school?
Not necessarily. I’m not sure most employers look at that that closely. Employers are going to look at your experience and how well you do on your interview. Attitude has a lot to do with that. If you convey that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the work done, schooling may play a smaller role in selecting the best candidate.