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 Stress Your Reliability!

By Joe Stein

Competition has increased significantly for all jobs, even those considered more entry-level in nature. I would think that everyone reading WNYJOBS this week understands that this is occurring. It wasn’t that long ago, that you would pretty much be hired on the spot, with little in the way of screening for your local supermarket, department store, or fast-food position. Times have changed recently, and more often than ever, Hiring Managers are selecting from a pool of candidates for even an entry-level job.
 
Unfortunately, current Job Seekers and Hiring Managers often are not on the same page when it comes to what are the most important attributes for an entry-level type job. If you ask a Manager, most likely the answer you will receive, is that he or she desires someone who is reliable. This is, however, a trait that is generally underestimated by the population seeking these positions.
 
Before we dive deeper into “reliability”, let’s define the term. For this article, it is coming to work, being on time, and staying for your entire shift. While we will focus today on primarily more entry-level positions, I think we can all agree that reliability is important in any job.
 
Why is Reliability So Important?
 
·        Poor Attendance Hurts Morale – Often, when a “call off” occurs, those who are working have to pick up the slack and do more. An employee, who has to cover for another person enough times, will get fed up quite quickly.
 
·        Hurts Customer Service – As everyone is trying to do more to pick up the slack, often the customer is not served in the timely basis or with the quality he or she expects. I think we have all been in the situation of wondering why something was taking so long. This is generally due to the location being short-handed.
 
·        Creates Manager Stress – Nothing like worrying about how the work is going to get done, to sour you on an employee. This is especially stressful if, as a Manager, you now have to pitch in and cover for the employee, on top of your regular duties.
 
·        Costs Employer Money – These costs are then typically passed on to the customer by higher prices. Everything from increased Overtime, to carrying a higher headcount then would be normally necessary, can be attributed to poor attendance.
 
What Can You Do?
·        Don’t Violate an Attendance Policy – Don’t make this the reason why you have left a position, especially if you were involuntary terminated. This situation will require you to have to either tell a lie and hope you are not caught, or attempt to explain away your situation, placing yourself at the mercy of the Hiring Manager.
 
·        Explain How You’re Reliable – Many Job Seekers throw the phrase “and I am reliable” in with a string of other descriptors, which diminishes its impact. Instead, state how you are reliable, along with providing an example. Make sure you are realistic. If you have Perfect Attendance, state for what period you earned that honor. Attempt to avoid just stating, “I never miss a day” without providing any background. At this point, this overused phrase is met with skepticism by the Hiring Manager, and is generally dismissed without detail being provided.
 
·        Show You Understand Why Reliability Is Important – If you have an opportunity, weave into your answer some of the reasons (listed above) why an employer thinks this issue is important. It will display to the Hiring Manager that you “get it” when it comes to reliability.
 
·        Detail If You Have Gone Beyond Reliable – After you have established that you are reliable, consider taking it a step further by describing how you have done more than what is expected. If you have examples of how you stayed late, or came in with little notice, then you will further reinforce the image you are creating as someone who can be counted on.
 
·        Display Reliability During the Recruitment Process – There will be opportunities to display your reliability to the company during the recruitment process. Examples include: returning any phone calls promptly, showing up on-time (a few minutes early is good) for the interview, and making any other appointments, such as for a drug screen. Don’t give the Hiring Manager any opportunity to question your reliability. If you have a misstep the Hiring Manager will probably conclude that if you can’t be reliable when being recruited, you won’t be once you are hired.
 
Reliability is an aspect of work that is often underrated by Job Seekers and employees, despite how crucial it is to a company. Remember, you can be the best at what you do, but if you don’t show up for work to use those talents, then your value is significantly diminished. Get in the habit of being reliable. Occasionally, there are times when something happens that prevents someone from coming to work without prior notice, but that should be the rare occasion. Use your reliability as a selling point when seeking your next position.
 

As always, best of luck in your job search