Installments: Be realistic if you want a job

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by Dave Stafford

In this era of Occupy Wall Street, I take exception to the misguided protests of those who need to get a real job. You can make things better through your own hard work instead of complaining about others. I am amazed at the difference between hope and reality among job applicants. It frequently falls to the interviewer to provide that dose of reality.

An attractive young woman named Brittany with the right background and experience in retail and light commercial sales, applied for a sales position. She stated, “I’m looking for more opportunity than what I have in my current position and I want to make more money.”

At this point Tim, who was looking for a commercial salesperson, was impressed. Then he asked about how much time she was willing to commit to the new position, explaining that for a chance at a six-figure income, he estimated she would need to spend a minimum of 50 hours a week pursuing her dream. She said that seemed like a lot for a five-days-a-week job. Spending that much time might just interfere with her part-time real estate job, which she had not previously mentioned.

“Well, since you live nearby, Brittany, what would you expect as a schedule if you came to work with us?” Tim asked.

Brittany replied, “I would start early, around 8:30 a.m., and then I’d need to pick up my child at daycare no later than 4:30 p.m.”

“What about the real estate work?” Tim asked.

She said she would do that at night or on the weekends. At this point, Tim explained, “Brittany, we need your full energy and enthusiasm directed toward our business if you are to have a chance to be really successful. Will you commit to that?”

After thinking it over, she said she was willing to commit to the position, but only at a guaranteed salary significantly more than her commercial experience dictated. Unfortunately, Brittany was unwilling to focus her energy to be successful, although she had the potential to increase her current income as much as 45% during her first year.

An important part of retail sales is weekend work. In many cases, over 40% of sale closings occur on Saturday and Sunday: That is reality.

Tim interviewed Bob, who liked the idea of the money he could earn, the opportunity for advancement, and had been very successful in a related field. After several interviews, Tim made Bob an offer, and was willing to put him on the fast- track to store management. Everything was going well when Bob casually mentioned that, “I might not be able to work every weekend due to family commitments. Also, I need to make sure that I never have to work late on Mondays because I play in the symphony and we have practice at 5 p.m.”

Tim gritted his teeth and asked if there were any other concerns or conditions. “Bob, you do understand this is a retail sales position, right?” Well, I wish the story had a happy ending, but it was not meant to be. Bob and Tim decided that their objectives were not a good match.

To save time, it is always best to present an outline of the position you need to fill; the expected time commitment, first year earnings range, ancillary duties or training commitment when the applicant arrives for the first face-to-face interview. A good question is, “What questions do you have about the requirements of this position?”

The defining factor with most is not raw talent or even experience. Rather, it is the willingness to put in the effort and time required by that position. Fortunately, some catch on more quickly than others and realize their dreams.

Dave Stafford is business consultant in the flooring industry with over 25 years of experience and an Honorary Lifetime Member of FCICA. He may be contacted by email at

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