Getting a job is the most important selling you will ever do. Many young men and women who make good scholastic records in school or college become discouraged after being graduated because of their inability to secure jobs. Classmates seem able to get work without much trouble and yet these classmates were no better, perhaps not so good, students as the unfortunate persons who act employment.

How can we account for this condition of affairs? There may be several reasons, some of them beyond the control of those who are unemployed. Thus, a period of business depression may exist and great numbers of people may be out of work. Or some of those who are without work may have physical defects which interfere with there getting jobs. Or they may not have taken courses in school or college that prepared them to earn their living; they have no skills that employers can use. But if business conditions are normal; if applicants are physically fit; and if they have definite skills such as shorthand, bookkeeping, or selling that business can use, and if they are still unable to get jobs, the probability is that they fail because they cannot sell themselves. In many cases they do not even realize that applying for a job is a form of selling. In other cases they know nothing about the principles of selling. This chapter will be helpful to both groups, for it explains how to use the principles of selling in applying for a job.


You learned that the salesman who desires to be successful must know his product. Now the product that you are trying to sell, in applying for a job, is yourself. Many applicants try to get jobs without knowing much about themselves. This may be surprising statement; yet any employer will tell you that a large percentage of those who apply for jobs do not know such ordinary facts about themselves as their exact weight or height; what subject they like best in school, or what wages they expect to be paid. Sometimes they give stumbling, inaccurate answers to questions about these and other matters, but very often they have to admit they do not know. How can an employer have an interest in an applicant under such conditions?

In order to be sure that you are prepared to answer any possible question about yourself that an employer may ask, you should make a written analysis of yourself. A written analysis is more likely to include all your strong and your weak points. Of course, the written analysis is not to be taken on interviews; it is merely to be studied before you make your calls, so that you will be certain to have all important facts in mind.

Among the questions about yourself that employers are most likely to ask are the following. Make sure that you can answer each one readily, accurately, and logically:

  • How old are you?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where have you lived?
  • Where were your parents born?
  • What are your religious affiliations?
  • How many days during your past day have you been ill?
  • Where did you to go to school to college?
  • What course did you take?
  • What subjects did you study?
  • In what subjects did you do your best work?
  • In what subjects, if any, did you fail?
  • What grades did you get?
  • What extra curricular activities did you engaged in?
  • What student offices did you hold?
  • What are your chief interests outside of school or college?
  • What business experience have you had?
  • What business skills have you mastered? (typing, shorthand, office machine operation, arithmetic, bookkeeping and accounting, salesmanship, business leter writing)
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What is your goal for the future?
  • What wages do you expect to earn?
  • What references can you give as to your ability and character?

The importance of each of these questions will be apparent upon a little reflection. The matter of grades deserves special comment. Although it is not necessary that you stand first in your class in order to be considered for most business positions, nevertheless it is a fact that employers do not care to employ those who have failed in school. Hence, for some positions, employers require that applicants have their school furnish complete records of their grades. This is done quite willingly by placement work. In any case you should be able to give employers an idea of the grades you have made and, perhaps, your relative position in your class.


Armed with the necessary knowledge of yourself, secured from your written analysis, you are now ready for the next step. The applicant must prepare a list of prospective employment upon whom he will call and must decide how he can best get in touch with them, so you must decide how you can get in touch with prospective employers.

There are many ways to secure interviews with employers. The ones that are likely to be most useful to you are described below:


Sometimes you can pave the way for a future job before you are graduated. Get acquainted with as many employers as possible while you are still in school. This you may do in many ways. You may meet an employer who is a visitor friend; you may have an opportunity to welcome an employer who is a speaker in your school; you can get acquianted with the merchants of your town when you buy at their stores; you may call on employers to get information for a class project in which you are engaged. These are just a few of the many opportunities to meet employers that you may have. The important thing is to make a favorable impression upon an employer when you meet him. More than one business executive has been so impressed with the intelligence and earnestness shown by a student who called upon him for information in connection with a class project that he has readily employed that student when he finished school.


A recent survey shows that many people get jobs simply by letting their friends know that they are looking for a job - and, of course, the kind of job they hope to get. The more "feelers" you put out, the better are your chances of making contacts with employers. Among the people you know, there may be several who can give you a suggestion as to where to go or on whom to call.


If you have a friend who is already employed by a company for which you desire to work, it is a good plan to have him recommend you to his employer. Some companies urge their employees to suggest other employees to them.


One of the best methods of procedure is to apply direct to the firm for which you would like to work. You are undoubtedly more interested in one kind of business, such as oil refining, aviation, publishing, advertising, department store retailing, or chainstore retailing, than in others; and your probably prefer to work for a particular company engaged in that business. You should, therefore, attempt to secure employment with the firm in which you are interested.

If the firm has an employment department, call in person at the employment office. If it has no employment department, attempt to secure an interview with the manager or with the official, such as the sales manager or chief accountant, who is in charge of the department in which you desire to work. If the firm has merely a branch office, branch factory, or branch store in your community, call on the local manager and ask his advice about securing employment with the company. He may be able to give you the name and address of the official to whom you should apply.

Persistence is just as important in applying for a job. If you are not able to see the employer the first time you call, call again; in fact, call several times if necessary. If you find that you have called on the wrong official, try to see the right one. Above everything, do not get discouraged.

You may decide after your interview that there is no opportunity for you with that company. If so, you should try your luck with other companies in the same line of business. If you have no choice as to kind of business, you should call on the employment managers of various companies in your locality. It is better to apply to companies near your home, for they can inquire about you more easily; they can get in touch with you more readily if they want you in a hurry; and if you get a position, your expenses will be less than if you work at some distance from your home.


If you follow this plan, you should use great care in selecting the advertisements to answer, since many of the jobs advertised this way may be undesirable. This is especially true of those requiring house-to-house canvassing. Many help-wanted advertisements are blind, that is, the name of the advertiser is not given. Instead, the number of a post office box or of a box in the newspaper office is given; applicants do not know the name of the concern to which they are applying. Only those applicants who write unusually good letters are then asked to call.


Another possibility is to advertise your desire for work. This may be done by placing "want" advertisements in newspapers or magazines. This is often a good method for experienced people, but seldom for a beginner. Those who use this method should employ high-class newspapers since sensational papers are seldom read by desirable employers. If your advertisement is to get results, it should mention your outstanding qualifications. Merely stating that you want work will never get you a job.


Many schools and colleges now have placement or personnel officers who recommend graduates to employers. It should be noted, however, that high-class schools and colleges do not guarantee positions for graduates, for they cannot control employment conditions. They cannot create jobs if few exist in times of business depression; they cannot give a student a personality that appeals to employers if he lacks such a personality; and they cannot give a student who has neglected his school work a school record that will cause and employer to become interested in him. The point is, however, that employers are turning to placement officers in increasing numbers. You should register with your placement for any position for which you are fitted and that may be called to his attention.


Many firms fill their more important vacancies from within their own organizations. Frequently file clerks who have had stenographic training are given stenographic positions, and stenographers are made private secretaries. Retail stores, especially department stores, often promote to sales positions employees known as junior employees. Among department store junior employees who are definitely in line for selling positions are messengers, stock boys and stock girls, markers, inspectors, wrappers, cashiers, and buyer's clerical assistants. The important thing, regardless of the job you hold, is to be ready for promotion when the opportunity presents itself. Indeed, you should constantly sell the idea to your employer, through your good work and your interest in the business, that you deserve promotion.