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Properly filling out a job application can make all the difference

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image Therese Monaghan, events manager at The Alley At SouthShore, shows the stack of applications she has received in just the past two weeks. Penny Fletcher Photo

“I get frustrated because so many of these kids don’t know how to fill out an application..."


RIVERVIEW — When I wanted to find out about the job market for teens that are out of school on summer vacation I knew right where to go.

One of my first stops was at The Alley At SouthShore where I learned something that changed the whole direction of my quest. I’ll have to write about the job market another time. What I learned from The Alley’s Events Manager Therese Monaghan was a shocker, and well deserves a story all its own.

“Do I have applications?” Therese said laughing when I asked about “teen applicants.” “I’ll bet I get 25 to 50 a week.”

She showed me the most recent box filled with applications. She could barely carry it with two hands.

As if that wasn’t enough of a shocking revelation by itself, Therese delivered the punch line: “I get frustrated because so many of these kids don’t know how to fill out an application. Of course people are hiring older people for jobs teens used to do (like bagging groceries and working in fast food restaurants). They know how to ask for a job and when they’re hired they do that job the way they’re supposed to.”

By then, I was hooked. Was Therese saying that hundreds of South County teens not only didn’t fill out their applications correctly, but didn’t do their jobs right once they were hired?

As it turned out, that’s exactly what she was saying. But she’s been working to solve the problem and has plans to do even more in the future.

“It drives me mad the way they fill out the applications. They need to show they know what they’re applying for. The application is supposed to convince the employer they know what the job duties are and that they can perform them.”

Therese said that in today’s tight job market, words that used to look “good” on an application- words that meant you were open to pretty much anything- should no longer be used.

“If they check ‘any’ under what they’re applying for, I know they haven’t even looked around to see what we do here,” Therese said. “They need to apply directly for something, like food service or clean-up or bowling alley work and then tell me the skills they have that fit into that category.”

The Alley has nine different venues for jobs and any of them can be a start to a resume as youngsters who have worked their first job move forward in life.

Besides checking “any” under position wanted, another thing that frustrates Therese is that so many young people check “any” under salary requirements as well.

“Know your worth. Check to see what we pay for the job, or what other places pay for similar jobs and put that down. It shows you care enough to do your research.”

Anyone can see that when they advertise for workers at The Alley, the ad always states $7.50-$9 an hour, she said. So they should list that.

“It’s better to ask for more than you’ll get than act like you have no idea what you’re worth.”

Therese has spent the last 25 years in positions where she had hiring and firing power so she should know.

“It’s easy now to get job descriptions over the Internet. People- especially teens who have never held a job- need to look up the job description and list the skills needed to complete the job for which they’re applying,” she advised.

Therese and her husband Mark who is The Alley’s night general manager, and Alley owner Andy White, cater to families in every department. Often mom and dad go to the restaurant or bar while the kids play in the arcade (which is named Redemption) or bowl.

But lots of teens and pre-teens go to The Alley without adults. So many in fact, that children without adults must now buy $5 worth of “Alley spending money” to get in.

“We didn’t want to become so much of a hangout for teens that families couldn’t enjoy themselves anymore,” she said.

Because so many area preteens and teens spend time there, especially on weekends, a lot of them apply to work there just to see their friends.

“That’s one of the reasons we have so much turn-over. I just won’t put up with someone who gets hired and then doesn’t want to work,” she said.

Another thing about hiring teens is that many seem to call in sick on weekends. Parents are often responsible for this when “aunt so and so or some other family member” is coming for a visit.

“It’s amazing how many apply for a job, get hired, and then work a few days and realize it’s actually work!” she said.

But when Therese finds teens who want to do a good job and build good work skills, she mentors them, moves them around and teaches them different things about events, food service and all the other things that take place at The Alley.

“It’s a great place for them to learn to work, but they have to realize it’s work,” she said.

Because Therese gets so many poorly-written job applications she has decided to offer a one-hour class Wednesday, July 20 at 6 p.m. at The Alley, 10221 Big Bend Road, Riverview at a cost of $10.

She has talked to many customers with children and teens that think this type of class is a good idea and she took day and time suggestions from them. If people sign-up and she thinks more will come, she will begin to give classes on some kind of regular basis.

She is calling her July 20 program “57 Flip Flops” because of the way so many younger workers- hers average between 16 and 22- get jobs and then quit or get fired almost right away.

“I’ve been considering consulting in some way because of working with the youth here and thought something like this class will give them access to general information they can use for the rest of their lives.”

For more information or to register for the class call 813-672-9011 or email Therese at 57flipflops@gmail.com.

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