Applying for jobs in person is primarily appropriate for entry level jobs and high turnover jobs such as retail and fast food. Everyone pretty much knows that these types of businesses accept (and in fact encourage) walk-in applications in order to get a steady stream of candidates for these high turnover positions, so simply go around and apply in person at as many as you like.
Large shopping malls are best for applying for retail jobs, as you can apply for several at the same location.
Many other types of small businesses, especially in the construction and manufacturing industries, also post job openings on site and welcome walk-in applicants (but read the section below before you apply in person).
You may find that many other large corporations will accept applications in person, but you run the risk of your application falling into the HR black hole if it doesn’t immediately match a current job opening.
What to Do First Before Applying in Person
It can be time consuming and tiring to travel around town looking for help wanted signs. Unless you’re looking for entry level jobsretail or fast food jobs, you should first and foremost check to see if the business you want to apply to has any job openings for which you are qualified.
The best way to do this is to first determine if the company has a web site. Go to Google and search for that company’s name. If they have a web site, it should come up in the search results. Go to their web site and check for job openings. If a company has a web site, it’s almost for sure that they will post their job openings on it, even entry level jobs. This will also tell you how they prefer you apply (hint: it will seldom be to apply in person).
If they don’t have a web site, you can call them on the phone and ask if they have job openings. Even this is better than driving around looking for help wanted signs.
If you don’t know a specific company name but instead want to look at all companies in a specific industry, simply look in the phone book under that type of business and check each company name in Google to see if they have a web site. If they do, check there first for job openings.
If You Apply in Person, Be Prepared
Here’s a checklist for how to be best prepared when applying in person, whether for entry level jobs or other jobs.
- Bring a pen so you don’t have to ask for one.
- Know what days and hours you can work.
- Bring full contact information, including your address, email address and a phone number where you can reached during business hours.
- Bring your educational information: schools attended, dates attended, grade point average.
- Bring names, addresses, supervisor’s name and dates of employment for your previous jobs.
- Bring names and contact information for your references.
- Bring your resume, if you have one (and you always should!).
- You may be interviewed on the spot, so be prepared as you would for any interview.
- Dress neatly. Business casual is best (no jeans, tee shirts or flip-flops).