Job search advice from

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’ve been trying to get work at a fast food place with no luck. I’m 16 and I’ve never had a job before and there are so many kids applying. How can I set myself apart?


DEAR SONYA: Here are tips from two general managers of two different popular fast-food chains that hire tons of teens. I was not able to use the names of the chains due to corporate liability jitters, but I am grateful for the no-nonsense advice these hiring managers shared. As you read their tips, notice how both managers pay close attention to how you present yourself, how enthusiastic you are, and whether you have passion for their food. The other key is to keep showing your face. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so don’t think you are being annoying by stopping back in over and over. It’s what they want to see.

Here is what one manager had to say:

• Show up looking presentable! First impressions are everything. No pants sagging to the knees, no ripped clothes. Present a look I want behind my counter.

• Don’t make the application look like a 2-year-old filled it out. A lot of you obviously aren’t reading the questions before filling in the answers.

• If this is your first job, don’t leave your past employment blank. Most of you have done babysitting or yard work. Write it down! These are real jobs, too.

• Lots of kids hand me the application and say, “Here, thank you.” and walk off. This will not get you hired. You have to act like you WANT this job. Get over your embarrassment and say, “Hi, my name is Sonya. I come here as often as I can and such-and-such is my favorite thing to order. I really want to work here!” Your enthusiasm is what I am hiring.

• What bugs me most is when you check back by phone about your application. I get 50 applications a week, so you need to show your face in here once a week and keep telling me, in-person, that you want this job.

And from the other manager:

• Don’t give your application to the cashier! I have a 6-inch-deep pile of applications on my desk right now. Give it directly to me so I have a face associated with it, otherwise it’s lost in space.

• Don’t come in during lunch or dinner rush. Come in when it’s slow so I have time to give you a 5-minute interview. Now you’re even more on my radar.

• We’re tolerant of body jewelry and tattoos, but if they are obtrusive and make people uncomfortable, don’t wear them here.

• Are you smiling? Do you make eye-contact with me? Do you have a positive attitude and up-beat energy? If so, you are one of the people I want to surround myself with. Skills? Don’t worry, I can teach you.

• What do I ask during the 5-minute interview? I ask, “Do you eat here?” If you are passionate about your favorite item, you will probably be passionate about working here. I also pay close attention when I tell you we wash our own dishes and clean our own toilets. What’s the look on your face now?

By Lauren Forcella





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