It feels like I've perfected the art of job-hunting. When you've decided that the business would actually be somewhere you'd tolerate working and somewhere you'd be able to get to without devoting your entire day to work and travel, then you apply. This takes more than just filling out the form or answering repetitive questions reworded to catch the sociopaths.

If you walk in the place to inquire, your phrasing counts. If you ask, "Are you hiring," you have the chance of getting, "We're always hiring; would you like an application?" Of course, even if you ask, "Do you have any open positions at this location?" (which eliminates the option of "well, we're not hiring here, but some of our other stores might be..."), you still might get, "Well, I don't know, but I can give you an application." This phrase always ends with an upward question note that allows you to refuse.

And that puts you in a conundrum. Unless you can figure out whether THAT store is hiring NOW while you're standing in the store, either from a manager or from their website, then all you can do is fill out the stupid form. If they're not hiring, you can tell by the response you get from the person who's hiring. That's if the person you give the form to doesn't tell you, with a slight eye roll, "Thanks. I'll put it in the pile with all the others." The hirer usually tells you whether it'll be put in the pile with all the rest of the pieces of paper or whether she'll actually read it in the next few days.

If it's a successful, "Yes, we've got a spot that needs filling," and the app actually gets there before the spot gets filled, then you ask for the hiring manager's name. It's that key word that makes the following phone calls feel more personal and shorter. After all, "Gary" or "Rose" is shorter than "your hiring manager". And if you've got that name, it means that you don't have to tell every person who answers the phone that you want to work with them and that you're on that desperate hit-and-miss for contact.

Even if they're not working on the first phone call, you can ask if they know when that precious contact is working again. Sometimes, the person you're talking to really doesn't know. Some managers just kinda show up whenever they like. And some of the people who work with that manager really don't care. Then you have to figure out whether that manager is a jerk or whether the employee you're talking to is tired and wants to go home.
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