This is a tough time to be young and starting a career in retail jewellery. Too many stores are closing and the competition is fierce. There are plenty of career advisors who will tell you all of the things you are supposed to do when interviewing for a job. The advice is always the same: show up on time, be neat and clean, smile, give a firm handshake. Good advice indeed, although it only scratches the surface. I hired my first employee over 50 years ago. Here are some of the down-and-dirty things I look for when I hire.
Total, brutal honesty
The jewellery business is based on trust. As part of my team, you will be in my closest circle of trust. You need to always be brutally honest…. not just to me. Self-honesty is even more important.
Don’t pretend to be someone else. If you are hired I will get to know the real you, so give it to me now. I want to know if you will fit into the personality of my business. I know you are younger than me and have a different style and way of thinking. If I want my business to be relevant and forward thinking, I need your fresh input.
If you have a criminal record, tell me. I am going to find out anyway, so be honest with me now and you still have a chance. If I find out later, you will be let go. And I know how to search social media and I will, so tell me if there is anything that will surprise me. I do understand youthful mistakes. I made them too, but they weren’t recorded online for everyone to see. (WHEW!)
Personality is more important than training
Gemmological training will certainly help your chances, but that alone will not get you the job. I want to know how you will use that knowledge to create a positive, interesting experience to the patrons of my store. Wow me, make me want to work with you. I can teach you anything else I need you to know.
Show me something new
There is a lot I can show you but there is even more I can learn from you. I know you are familiar with technology, but so am I. My generation invented this stuff but your generation turned it into a living, evolving cultural movement. I need you to help me understand how to evolve with it. Don’t be afraid to pull out your phone or tablet to show what-what you like or dislike about my online presence. That is another aspect of honesty I need; good solid criticism.
In the jewellery industry, knowledge, skills, and ethics are passed down from the elders to the youth. Traditionally, this has always been a one-way street. Your generation is changing that. As elders, we have much to give you, and we give it freely to keep the old skills and ideas alive. From you we learn new ways of interacting with the community, both local and global. Your generation has the innate ability to blend the old with the new in ways my generation never imagined. We need each other.
What some people call flaws in a diamond, others think of as unique characteristics. I know you can shine and sparkle or you would not be interviewing with me. Don’t hide your flaws under a prong. (You know I’ll use my loupe and find them anyway.) Show me your flaws, those characteristics that make you unique right at the start. Be honest about them. That is what I am looking for.