Secrets of success

ara Macho

Part-time jobs as hard to land as careers

A good interview can be the first step to landing either a part-time job or a new career.

Credit: Andrew popik

I went in feeling good. I had plenty of past work experience and enough charisma to charm the pants off any potential employer.

Every blank line on that application was filled with pertinent, valuable and qualified information. So why didn’t I receive a call back?

“The only reason an applicant wouldn’t get a job here is if they had limited availability,” said my potential manager at Wal-Mart in Ravenna, who asked to remain nameless.

Hmm. I had marked down I could work at different times all week and weekend long.

College students are among the most qualified candidates for many types of jobs, so why are so many still left unemployed?

This does not happen just in Kent — employment opportunities vary from region to region.

“I’m from Erie, Pennsylvania, and the economy is really bad up there,” said Sheharah Mciver, junior exercise major. “The only choice left is a job in fast-food.”

For those who don’t want to end up flipping burgers this summer, there are many ways to successfully find a job and ace an interview.

According to “Job Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts” from, there are fundamental things every applicant should keep in mind. A big tip is timeliness.

Patt Walsh, a sophomore English major and five-year restaurant manager, said timing is everything.

“If the applicant shows up at dinner time, I’m going to turn them away,” Walsh said. “That’s a restaurant’s busiest time. I won’t have any time to talk with them.”

Being motivated is another aspect of a successful interview. Showing enthusiasm for the position and company could help in landing the job.

“If I interview someone who is cocky or mean, they won’t get the job,” said Carrie Buo, staff coordinator at Callos Personnel Services, an employment agency in Kent. “Having a bad attitude will not get you a job.”

But having a good attitude can only get potential employees so far. Mannerisms can also help.

Students and employers alike find eye contact important during the interview.

An applicant knows an interview is going well if there is plenty of eye contact and good conversation skills, said Lauren Dennison, sophomore interior design major.

“Eye contact is the quality I most look for during an interview,” said the Wal-Mart manager.

Along with body language, spoken language conveys a message as well. Slang and lying are red flags to potential employers.

As long as applicants don’t lie during an interview, they have a fairly good chance of getting a job with Callos Personnel Services, Buo said.

Buo has had candidates lie about their criminal record or employment history.

“Just be honest — reference checks can be made,” Walsh said.

An applicant can memorize useful interviewing tips, but applying them can be quite different.

What should a candidate do if an employer asks a tough question?

According to the Kent State Career Services Web site, turn weaknesses into positives. It encourages applicants to not dwell on their weaknesses but instead make suggestions for improvements in this area.

“I try to make a negative trait look like a positive one,” Mciver said. “I don’t know why, but it always seems to work.”

Students also said connections will help with finding a job.

“I use my connections to get me a job,” said Stephen Harker, sophomore sports management major. “I’ve had friends who work at Best Buy, and they can get me a job real easily.”

If an individual has no networking skills that he or she can use, it’s best to take anything that is offered, said Walsh.

“You can always work your way up,” he said. “I hired a busboy once, and he eventually took over my job as manager when I left for college.”

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].