6 Reasons Why “Fry Cook” or “Cashier at Walmart” Will Make You a Better Job Candidate Than Your Boujee Friends.
We’ve all heard it before. Fry cooks, cashiers, baristas, and pretty much anyone employed by a Walmart are typically the musty butt of everyday jokes. These are considered to be the lowest of low -- before we get to sanitation and janitorial roles -- largely due to their ubiquity, ease of getting hired, and notoriously low wages. Your average American parent or caregiver at some point in life is prone to presenting a young person with an ultimatum we've all heard, in the form of “Would you rather _____ or flip burgers/work at Walmart for the rest of your life?” So it’s safe to say these jobs aren’t exactly en vogue.
If you’ve worked such a job, however, rest assured this is one of the best things you can list on a résumé. In fact, unless you’re up for a job at Louis Vuitton or Tiffany’s, it’s probably an asset that will edge you out over your competition that have worked at small mom & pop shops, schools or institutions, establishments with minimal traffic, or even cushy office jobs.
Why is that? Because a recruiter is typically pressed for time and needs to hire a good fit right away. The recruiter is immediately able to glean some very specific details from these types of companies or roles on your résumé, proving you’re used to very specific conditions, and that you can perform in a manner that is usually ideal for the operation -- regardless of how much more complex it might be over sliding bags across counters (no shade!). This will be especially the case when you're applying to roles in adjacent fields, like hospitality, full-service dining, and tourism. You'll also be a sure-fire hit for roles in customer service, and working in an upscale boutique or department store.
Be proud to list that time you worked the drive-thru -- wearing that fugly uniform hat at Big Rod's Sausage Shack -- but you should zone in on these key aspects down below. Here's how you can highlight these attributes to help the recruiter realize you’re the perfect fit after all:
1. Experience with diverse clientele - This one is a bit new regarding must-have skills, and highly underused on résumés. Times are’a changin’ and companies massive and small are seeking candidates who are comfortable, familiar, and effective at dealing with diverse nationalities, cultures, age groups, gender identities, etc. When you work at a fast-food joint or a huge retailer, it’s likely you’ve become used to being friendly and hospitable to people from just about all walks of life. Use it to your advantage.
2. Operates well under intense pressure - Working in these type of fast-paced environments means sometimes you have to occasionally keep up with intense demand. Whether that’s in the form of a surprise caravan of tour buses that all show up to your job at once, or a new directive from corporate to change a layout in the store with short notice, recruiters know it’s highly likely you’ve dealt with some serious pressure in such roles, and it’ll be a great asset for you at any organization when deadlines change or goal posts shift.
3. Adaptive to constant change - This one kind of piggy-backs on operating well under pressure, but still worth listing on its own. There are jobs that simply require lots of pressure, but not necessarily due to frequent changes. When you’ve got experience at a McDonald’s or working at Forever 21 — places where changes in direction are frequently dispensed from HQ — recruiters know you’re used to weekly, possibly even daily changes to your workload. This will come in handy in a world of instant gratification and frequent changes in technologies, as companies are forced to change direction, pivot, or alter products and services at a much faster clip in order to remain competitive. This is another one of those instances where that office worker who also applied for the gig simply won’t look as attractive.
4. Training & Development - National retailers and fast-food chains have some of the best training and development programs in the nation when it comes to the workforce. They’re also thorough and cover a lot of distinct subject arenas, yet require information to be absorbed and understood in small amounts of time. Recruiters will know you’ve been instilled with some great traits and workplace know-how — think safety training, understanding harassment in the workplace, cultural sensitivities, operating different types of machinery — and that you’re used to having to learn and implement training in short time periods. This will make your onboarding and training processes that much easier, something any recruiter will love.
5. Efficiency & Consistency - Right away, anyone that has worked fast-food, at a national chain of grocers or gas stations, or a Walmart, for example, is likely to be very efficient in their roles. These establishments service hundreds to thousands of guests on a daily basis, and everyone isn’t equipped or able to operate efficiently in such conditions. This also means you must have learned to be consistent so that all customers get the same product, service, or experience again and again. If you’ve maintained or grew in your role for at least 6 months, it’s clear you’re efficient and have a great instinct at using your time wisely in order to achieve results + you're able to duplicate the recipe on cue.
6. Hospitality & Customer Service - This is arguably the most coveted asset someone with a background in fast-food or retail chains will come to the table with. Office workers are typically at a desk or cubical, and are often only used to dealing with coworkers and maybe an occasional vendor/client of some form. This fosters personalities that aren’t always the bubbliest or sociable when it comes to environments where you’ve got to, say, engage with a multitude of guests, or interact with different departments and the company’s clientele. Although many people are faking it a bit for the sake of their jobs when it comes to hospitality… welp… fake it til you make it as they say! Highlight your warmth and friendliness, and an unparalleled ability to put a smile on even the worst customer’s face. The recruiter will light up. Watch.
Hopefully this makes it a little easier for you to flesh out those "shitty" jobs you might have now or just feeling subconscious about because you don't have much experience beyond them. A job flipping burgers is NOT a résumé killer whatsoever, it's an asset.
If you still feel like you need some help landing that next big position, you've got a variety of free and affordable tools to use here around the site, whether it's our free résumé evaluation -- where we can tell you personally what's working and what's hurting your chances -- or a résumé redesign starting at just $9.99 to get a nice dressing to that old, dusty thing that looks like it was made on a PC with Windows 95.
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Til next time!