Ask LH: How Can I Get A Job In An Electronics Store?

Hi Lifehacker, I'm an IT student looking for a job in a computer shop. I can do troubleshooting to an intermediate level on a lot of things. What do I do to get a part-time job in a computer shop? Thanks, PC Priority

Photo: Univeral Pictures

Dear PCP,

Most computer and electronic stores treat the hiring process like any other retailer. Your best bet is to simply visit all the stores within travelling distance and offer your services in person. Naturally, you should also come armed with a resume that details any relevant skills or tertiary qualifications you have (this includes your current studies).

If you're unsure what to include on your resume or have never written one before, this resume writing guide will talk you through the most common resume flaws and how to fix them. For additional advice, head to the resumes section of our website, where you'll find a huge array of articles on the subject.

The key here is to not let rejection get you down. You may also need to cast your net beyond specialist computer shops which are becoming an increasingly rare breed. A general electronics outlet like JB HiFi, Dick Smith or Apple might not be ideal, but at least you'll be working with computers and getting paid a regular wage.

Just don't expect to make big bucks, even by the relatively low standards of the retail industry. As we've noted in the past, some electronic store employees actually earn less than their supermarket counterparts. In other words, you actually get paid more to handle apples than Apple. Tch, eh?

If any readers have advice of their own for PCP, head to the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    A good tip is to remember that it's not just a resume job. At all points of interaction you should be showing that you're approachable, that you're able to communicate what you know to other employees and customers alike and that you're easy to work with. That's normal for retail jobs but it goes double for somewhere that you'll be expected to interact with people who don't understand the product they're buying/having repaired.
    If like me you have a tendency to just grab the keyboard, tell the owner to piss off, and then fix the problem on your own you may be better off going with another line of work.

    I would start by looking for jobs in classified ads, or online job sites.Then I would apply for those jobs.If successful, I would then start working at new job.

    I work in a specialized computer store and while our hiring policy may not be the norm here is my input.

    It doesn't matter how many IT courses you have done and what degrees you have, unfortunately they're all reasons for us not to hire you. A lot of what is taught in TAFE and such is either wrong, out of date or there are far better/faster ways of doing things, time is very much money in this industry. If you are passionate about computers and are willing to learn what we have to teach you then you're off to a good start. If you have managed to teach yourself then that's also a bonus because everyone who works where I do have taught themselves. You have to have good personal and customer skills, be insanely good at multitasking (sometimes working on as many as 10 machines at once while serving customers) and have a very vast field and product knowledge as customers will come to you with more than just computer issues. You really have to know a little bit about everything. Also like DogMan said, as cruel as this may sound you almost have to treat everyone who comes to you like an idiot without talking down to them or with any demeaning manner or tone. Many of the people you will deal with know next to nothing about computers or know enough to get themselves into a problem but not enough to get themselves out. You have to have patience and be able to give clear and simple instructions and advise to people who often don't even want to be using a computer in the first place.

    Finding an independent computer store these days is a rare find and often the staff they have are either the people who started the business or have been there since almost day one as it's the kind of job that once you get into it you kinda stay in it till the store dies or you get sick of dealing with broken computers all day as we don't want to have to find those rare people that are worth hiring again.

    Not all places will be like this but I hope it helps
    Source: 8 years working in a computer store(s)

    Suggest a Telstra shop on tech bar.. My experience is only with telstra owned (tsn) but the casual pay is pretty good, you get heaps of discounts, freebies and commission and it's a company with potential for some serious career advancement

    My experiences as both a customer and job applicant indicates that most of these businesses have absolutely no interest in employing staff that have any clue what the products are for. Any self respectig geek would avoid these places as much as possible, regardless of which side of the counter we are talking about.

    (I speak as a qualified PC technician who also has years of retail and customer service experience)

    My advice (as a 15 year IT professional) is to skip the computer store all together and try and apply for entry level help desk/tech support job with a corporate/business. If you're studying, then particularly a company that provides 24/7 services to their clients as it offers more opportunities for shifts around your study times.

    Most IT companies would prefer (for an entry level position) someone self taught who they can then mould (as Sgt Moo kind of said). You'll be in a much better position for serious career progression and be exposed to various levels of technology, not just "My computer is broken", "How do I arrange my photos"..

    From my position (and I really don't mean to offend anyone that works in a computer store, you've made that choice) if working in a computer store is your goal, then your career and tech exposure will be extremely limited.

    I say that for 2 reasons.
    1. The guys that Ive employed over the years who've come from computer stores are always behind and take longer to come up to speed with industry technologies. Someone who has spent 12 months on a IT help desk is of more value to me than someone who's spent 5 years as a PC technician. Working predominantly on desktops and their related issues is only a very small part of a huge machine.

    2. Unfortunately a computer store means retail.. retail means you're income is going to derive somewhat from award wages and increments related to that kind of base (though you may get some commission for sales).

    You might get paid crap to start with on a help desk but as you develop skills, it has the basis to increase quite quickly and if you have a flair for a particular technology, you can move into engineering and solution specialisation. You'll also be encouraged to do industry training and certification (Microsoft, Cisco, VMware etc) which will grow your value further.

    Last edited 29/06/14 2:46 pm

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