To those of you who were promised another post ‘soon’, I apologize for the massive one year wait. For those of you who are reading this for the first time, I encourage you to read my original posting on ‘How To Get Hired At The Apple Retail Store‘.
I started this blog (without any real theme or direction other than to share my knowledge or opinions that I thought were useful to others), and the original post generates a lot of interest, so I wanted to follow up with another to answer a lot of the questions that were posed to me via e-mail or comments.
Keep in mind this will be extremely lengthy (and at points a little redundant); I want to answer as many questions as possible, and I hammer the important points home.
I want to make it clear that Apple retail is just glorified sales & support, nothing revolutionary going on, nothing spectacular that you’ll be contributing to apart from a sophisticated retail team. It’s a foot in the door if you ever want to work for corporate, or maybe move to California, but keep your expectations low, working for the Apple store isn’t glamorous, at all. Apple retail has been well trained and imposed upon by corporate that makes it one of the best retail experiences in the world, but in my opinion it’s the bare minimum that all retail operations should abide by. It is a lot of fun, and a really easy job for the pay, so if you get hired, have fun with it .
The first thing you need to do is just disconnect yourself from everything you know about Apple’s culture. Don’t put so much weight into it – you don’t need to be a good “Apple” candidate, you just need to be a good candidate. Don’t be a fanboy – be genuine.
Questions have been SLIGHTLY edited where necessary just to be more clear, most of them have been left as is – so if you see some awful english or stupid questions (I removed most of them), my apologies! In no particular order, here we go:
Answer: Apple’s retail stores grow in a very calculated way. Over the course of time their sales and technical support appointments are analyzed and the need for more staff grows with the demand. When a new position for a Specialist (because the store is selling more) or a Creative/Genius (because the store is booking more technical support appointments) goes up, it’s first made available to the store internally. Those who want to apply are given a 5 day window (approximate, something short) to submit their candidacy, and then if the spot cannot be filled internally, then the listing goes public on http://cooljobs.apple.com.
The more direct answer to this question depends on the management. The best way to be promoted internally is to a) perform above average with the position you’re currently filling and b) make sure that you’re intimately familiar with the requirements for the position you’d like to fill.
You should know that ultimately it is the leadership team (usually the store’s general manager) that decides whether you’re fit for the position or not. Being a Creative or a Genius entails passing a technical test – even if you pass with flying colours, it will still be a political decision to be made by the management, so you need to be sure that you’re properly manipulating their perception of you. If they don’t like you, or if they see something they don’t like, it’s easy for them to just pass you up for no other good reason. I remember when I wanted to move into the genius position, my particular manager told me that my “team skills” had yet to develop to the point necessary, this wasn’t anywhere near the truth – she was just reaching.
Answer: When I went for my interview I wore a white button down shirt, blue stripped tie, black pants and black shoes. I still presented myself as a ‘regular’ guy, and I didn’t change my behaviour or my attitude. When I first met the managers who setup my interview, I was wearing a ratty t-shirt and torn jeans, it didn’t matter. I’m sure that people have been hired before wearing jeans, and I’m sure that people have been dismissed because they looked sloppy – the point here is that the clothes are just icing on the cake, if you’re the right candidate it’s not going to make or break you. My advice to you is to dress as ‘professionally’ as possible. Pretend like you’re conducting the interview, and look at yourself without thinking anything about yourself as a person, do you look like someone who would get the job? When I was on the job, I wore sweatpants, jeans, sometimes even torn jeans – but I still performed excellently, customers saw the torn jeans initially, but after 2 minutes of speaking with them, they were practically in love, because I was honest, knowledgeable, and quite the charmer *WINK*. If you ask an authority at Apple what to wear, they’ll likely answer “business casual”.
Answer: I started at $13.50 CAD per hour, which is pretty good for a retail job – I know for a fact that if I had lied about having an undergraduate degree (I was 2 years in at that point) I would have started at $14.00 or $14.50, This was October 2009, when minimum wage in the province was $9.50. It’s going to float in this area, you’re not going to see a big jump. I can’t comment on how others countries handle it. I don’t know what they’re paid, and I don’t know how the conversions are taken into account.
Answer: I’m assuming this question was “does it matter that I live far away from the store?” No, I don’t think so, as long as management understands that the commute isn’t a problem for you, and that you’re punctual, you’ll have no problem getting hired, even if you live an hour away. The right candidate is the right candidate, they won’t hold it against you if you live far away.
Answer: Yes this e-mail notification you received is standard, everyone receives it after applying. If you’ve made prior contact with a manager (like I did), they will likely also email you personally (with their Apple email address usually) to make follow up arrangements for an interview, or anything else thereafter. These arrangements can also be made over the phone if you happen to make contact in that way.
Long Answer: This question personifies ‘over thinking’; you’re concentrating too much on the little details that are meaningless. Thinking too much of the theatrics and drama that doesn’t concern actual business people is just how you come across as neurotic and unstable. PDF is an industry standard that is wildly recognized that is natively viewable on a Mac – and that’s besides the point, Apple isn’t holding some childish grudge against Adobe as a whole – they’re saying “Flash isn’t good enough right now so we aren’t supporting it” – PDFs are still viewable on an iPhone.
P.S. a “Microsoft Word 2007″ document can be opened on a Mac or PC.
Short Answer: I submitted my CV as a PDF document; you MAY get brownie points for submitting your CV as a .pages document, but I seriously wouldn’t bank on it.
Answer: My B&W CV was suitable, but it wasn’t of much importance – I made a good first impression in an Apple store and was essentially recruited right on the spot (pending the formalities of the interview process). I’m sure you could score some creative points if you make a really unique looking CV – it might help you stand out when you’re just applying online without any additional influence to give you points. I believe that your CV should be icing on the cake, it shouldn’t operate on it’s own, statistically you won’t succeed – if you ask me, the CV is a formality, they read it for 2 minutes to learn a little about you, then you get a chance to communicate all those “words” and turn them into experiences and paint yourself as a great candidate… without some “extravaganza in design”. As for the rest of the rambling in your question, you’re over thinking, dial it down a notch.
Answer: It is my understanding that the Apple Retail has certain guidelines as far as to set starting wages. You get paid a little more if you have finished high-school, or if you have a post-secondary degree. If you have previous retail experience, or tech experience it may weigh in your favour – these are all at the discretion of the store’s manager.
Do I regret not negotiating? When I got the call saying I was hired, and that my pay was going to be $13.50 and a “How do you like the sound of that?” I responded with a charming and slightly joking “Well I would like it a little more if it was closer to $14 or $14.50”. In turn, I was told that the rate was very competitive and that this was starting pay for someone of my caliber.
“My caliber.” Well, the first thing I thought was this woman has no real idea of what my caliber is at all.
This sort of thing is really subjective – would you work the job if you weren’t paid a certain amount? My advice to you is (and not just for working at the Apple store) is to forget what you’re worth to yourself – it’s not about what you’re worth, it’s about what you can negotiate.
Let’s think for a second, do you think that the Apple store is desperate for employees? Do you bring something special to the table? Do you have something that is considerably valuable within you that you could apply to your position? Pitch it, and tell them what you think it’s worth. I think it would be really challenging (less than 5% occurrence, if even that… and I’m pulling a number out of the sky) to get an increase in wage over what you’re offered initially, before you even start working, but at that point, they’ve dismissed other candidates and offered you the position, they aren’t going to take it away from you just for asking.
Answer: I don’t have any special advice here – but I can tell you that Apple loves promoting from within. Retail positions that are posted on http://cooljobs.apple.com are first posted internally for consideration – I imagine that corporate positions follow suit. If you see Apple as part of your long-term plan, and you can’t find your way into a corporate position off the bat – it isn’t a bad idea to jump into retail to get your feet wet. However, this CAN work against you, if you perform poorly in the retail environment it will work against you when you’re applying for a corporate position thereafter. Make sure that you’re strengthening your candidature by being a team player, taking strong initiative when appropriate, and developing skills to stand out amongst your colleagues. Getting your foot in the door (by working retail) will not work if you happen to be an awful retail employee, or don’t get along with your superiors at work (when you’re applying for a greater position, your bosses will be weighing in with your interviewer).
Answer: It’s not what I would call difficult, but it is time consuming – a lot of patience is involved.
You can’t be considered for a different position within your first three months of being newly hired (this is typical, it’s up to the managers obviously, but they’ll hide behind this guideline as an excuse not to consider you immediately, if they don’t want to).
You need to prove that you’re a good fit for their store – the Specialist position has more turnover than any other position – so they want to see if you’re committed or not – they don’t want you to just start doing it, not like it, and then quit. From my recollection, you’re also required to be ‘certified’ in two or three of Apple’s iLife apps (iMovie, iPhoto) and one of their pro apps (Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Logic). This needs to be verified, though, so don’t quote me on it, but it’ll be somewhat accurate.
What you should do is wait until you get some positive reviews, develop a positive rapport with your superiors, and then express your interest in the position, and tell them why you think you’d be good at it – being genuine is key here. Keep in mind that you can’t just be promoted to the position without there being a need for one. If a Creative quits or gets fired, expect a posting for it internally, and soon. Even if nobody is leaving, don’t sweat it, Apple store’s are growing constantly, and when the word comes down from corporate that they’ve been approved to hire more staff, they’ll inform everyone.
Answer: When I first started working I gave my managers a blank slate for my availability, and they were scheduling me for the full 44 hours a week. However, I was still just a part-time employee – so they were getting full time hours from an employee they weren’t paying benefits or a full-time wage – unethical, but I hadn’t made any complaints either. After 3 weeks, I restricted my availability to 4 days a week and my hours scaled back accordingly. I wasn’t the only part-time Specialist being worked 40+ hours a week either – they were still trying to hire many more people so a lot of us were being ‘taken advantage of’.
As far as the large amount of employees – Apple’s retail stores have 3 kinds of customers: 1) High maintenance people who have a billion questions and no direction 2) People who know exactly what’s going on and don’t need anyone 3) 10-17 year olds who go in there to waste their time on Photobooth and make me question humanity as a whole. As per Apple’s mantra, the customer is their most important asset, so the more Apple promoters/lovers they can create out of potential customers, the better. As a result, they need a lot of staff on the floor.
Answer: It’s rare for Specialist applicants to jump directly into a full-time position, unless they’re older (this job is going to be a long-term commitment) or they have a connection with the managers. Full-time positions are given away to employees who are more valuable, and long-term committed employees are more valuable than younger employees/students who are MUCH more likely to jump ship when a better opportunity rolls around (and it almost usually does). However, you’re right, they offer GREAT pay for a part-time retail job, you’re unlikely to find better.
Answer: They have no preference for age, above the regulatory legal requirements of your region. However, most 16 year olds aren’t developed enough to be tasked with all the responsibilities of an Apple store employee (above being a Concierge). Previous retail experience helps, but really, the only requirements are having adequate communication and social skills to handle the variety of customers that an Apple store handles daily. Apple’s ‘adequate’ sets the bar pretty high – and while there are many high-functioning idiots who staff their stores, the bar is constantly being raised because more and more people are applying, and fewer of that large pool are getting the job. You may find that you need further grooming before being worthy of a position they’re offering.
Answer: I, personally, have a great passion for Apple as a company – but it’s only because I greatly admired (and continue to) the recently late Steve Jobs (Co-founder and C.E.O.) as a business man, and passionately driven entrepreneur. If Apple was a person, his name would be Steve Jobs. So naturally, my admiration for the man, carried over to the company. The iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, OS X, the aluminum MacBook Pros – all rockstar consumer products that other businesses are stupidly jealous of – and a lot of the credit belongs to Steve. I communicated this a lot in my interviews and my answers to questions. Not because I was sucking up, but because I really believed it. The iPod changed the game, a stale mp3 player market was transformed by the iPod and iTunes, the iPhone (and then the App store) was the first of it’s kind – the MacBook Pros (have been) and MacBook Airs (after some tweaking) are the best computers on the market – all revolutionary products – and without Steve, Apple would have almost surely fallen flat and failed miserably.
When asked why I wanted to work for Apple – I told them Steve Jobs knows what he’s doing and I want to be a part it, I couldn’t agree more with how he did business. His obsession with excellence, ruthless honesty, extreme attention to detail and perfection are rules that I model myself after, I respect him, I admire him, I want to learn more, I said.
This attitude coupled with my strong communication and people skills made me a very strong candidate for the position. My own technical experience helped also, and the fact that I used many Apple products probably did as well, but don’t let that hold you back. Don’t act all “Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Apple products”, instead “I’m actually looking forward to learning, I haven’t had much opportunity to look deeply into it, but I’m a quick study and I can’t wait to get started”.
Answer: If you aren’t hearing back at all – investigate. Go into the stores you’re applying to and ask for feedback. Be respectful, professional, and probe as to what you could do to become a better candidate. Is there a reason you’re being overlooked? Or are there just too many people applying?
It’s difficult to stand out if you JUST apply online – you’re one of thousands of resumes they’re combing through, and maybe there’s somebody out there who’s better at formatting their online profile, or putting more lies (or not) up to attract the managers.
If you want to make an impression, you need to go into the store, shake someones hand, and communicate to them why you want the job, why you deserve a chance, and what you bring to the table that isn’t easy to come across. Simply “not hearing back” and continuing to wait for someone to bring you the job is the exact opposite of what Apple stands for. Nobody is handing you a job for free, work for it, earn it, or you don’t deserve it anyway.
Answer: While I was attending core (Apple’s mandatory training before you start work), among our group was a 60 year old gentlemen who was heavily experienced in graphic design (he had his portfolio with him and everything!). As far as disability – it would really depend – I’m sure Apple is equal opportunity as far as employment, but it would need to be a handicap that doesn’t affect your job. For the record, I’ve never seen someone in a wheelchair or crutches working at the Apple store – I’m not sure of their policy in regards to this. Sorry.
Answer: A link to my resumé can be found here. In order, but not necessarily one at a time, I’ve been: a paper boy, a clerk at a coffee chain called Tim Hortons (very popular here in Canada), a computer specialist at a kids day camp (making stickers, playing games, simple stuff – we used Macs!), an I.T. consultant (schools, small business, private home clients), a baby sitter, a bartender, and then an Apple Specialist.
During my time as an I.T. consultant I was essentially a walking Genius bar techie, but also had to support the PC platform – it was just time spent learning about Apple products and computers in general – it prepared me well.
Answer: Well, looking at your comment I’m going to say your written english isn’t as strong as you think it is (if you thought it was). So maybe you’re filling out the forms and in your head you’re doing great, but you aren’t communicating your thoughts properly, and it’s hurting you. Apple doesn’t have a “look” – there are nerds, jocks, hippies, goth, black, white, yellow, purple, virgins, players, cool guys, losers, winners (and the list goes on) who work at the retail store, whether you have one or one hundred tattoos. That definitely isn’t it. You may be getting passed up because there are better candidates available, or because the hiring managers didn’t like you, or because you’re missing something. If you get the rejection e-mail, I encourage you to follow up with someone and get some feedback. Hopefully you left the seminar with some contact information or met a few people you could get in touch with.
Answer: Hey friend. I’m sorry to hear about your trouble. One thing you need to know is that while Apple is a company that’s ideally run by a set of rules, it’s retail operations are run by simple every day people – nothing very special about them. They could be biased, they could just not like you, they could just be having a bad day. They may see repeated attempts as incremental failures; they might be looking at your file and just not agreeing. You can’t at any point take this personally – either they’re doing the best they can, or they’re crappy at their job, or you might just be missing a piece of the puzzle… or they just may need a different candidate at the time being. It’s possible that the lengthiness of the process has worn on you and maybe you’re losing your spirit, or getting visibly frustrated.
If you still want the job, don’t give up – keep at it – but improve yourself, if you haven’t adjusted between rejection #2 and #3 then there’s nobody to blame but yourself – acquire feedback and build on top of it. If you’re passionate and you believe you deserve it, keep at it and you’ll eventually get it. I know I know, it’s easy for me to be all idealist and say it, but keep at it and I think you’ll be happy you did.
As for converting your family to Mac users… it’s not really relevant. Don’t focus on it, it’s fine to share that info with the crew who are interviewing you, but it’s not much of a selling point.
Answer: Norm? I couldn’t say – I doubt it, but acceptable? Totally.
Answer: I know 16 and 17 year olds who work at Apple retail stores, it’s not incredibly common, but it happens. Hopefully you’re a special kid.
Answer: No, I don’t think they’re allowed to – I believe it would be discriminatory? Someone enlighten me.
Answer: Perhaps there were applicants who were able to “answer every question they had been asked” INCLUDING technical ones. If you want to find out more, try getting in touch with the interviewers. This seems like a pretty simple question; If you don’t know how to get in touch with anyone, go to your local Apple retail store and ask for one of the team leaders (managers). Ask them for some contact information which would put you in touch with hiring managers or seminar managers.
Answer: The stores staff doesn’t really need to know you, just one or two important people – the store’s head manager, the hiring manager, and perhaps a senior member of the store who would give you a good recommendation (don’t worry so much about the third, you’re not likely to just drop into that last one). The store manager isn’t going to have much time for you, so when/if you do make interactions with him/her, make sure they count. Be professional, courteous, and concise. Pretend you’re meeting your girlfriends parents for the first time and you want to make a good impression – within the first couple minutes they’re going to make their mind up about you. The hiring manager is someone you can allow yourself multiple interactions with – you want to show them your commitment, gentle persistence, and seriousness about your application.
“I’ve been thinking more and more about working here [the Apple Store], and it would really please me to be here. I think that enjoying your job is really important, and I know that I’d have fun here. I want to know what I can do to make myself a strong candidate – would you please share with me what you think is important?”
Let them answer.
“I understand, and I appreciate your help. I’ve put my resumé together and a cover letter explaining why I think I’d be a really good fit. Can I leave this with you? Are you currently hiring? I think I’d be a really good Specialist, I enjoy interacting with customers and have a lot of retail experience. I know that you’re very busy here, but would you mind if I followed up with you in a week?”
Answer: Excellent questions, really – this stuff is important. I’ll answer the second question first. If it took you 5 trips to get everything figured out, then that’s a poor reflection on them, not on you. It could have been the sort of thing that needed time to get sorted out – but at the very least, looks bad on them, not you, so ignore it, especially since you’re applying for the Specialist position.
Getting to know the staff is almost always a bonus (it’s easy to make a good impression with a few minutes, and it’ll be the only impression if you don’t give them the chance for a second or third). There are senior staff who are allowed to weigh in on hirings, if it’s their place to. There are “leader” geniuses who are pseudo managers of their group. Creatives may also have this sort of employee as well, but it’s not confirmed. Ultimately, the hiring is really up to the hiring manager and above him/her, the store manager – these are the people you should be focusing on. You really won’t have spent enough time with random employees in the store for them to make strong recommendations or oppositions to your hiring – so again, don’t focus on it.
Answer: The MAJORITY of people speaking just for the sake of speaking aren’t going to get called back. Some phonies will get called back, and even hired (oh man, some of the people I worked with at the Apple store made me sick to my stomach) – but I made a fun game of mocking them from a distance with a few other employees who saw through their bullshit.
Part of this I just can’t answer – I don’t have their guidelines written out – but you could argue both sides – and I think that you could overcome regardless of what the rule was (if they were to have one). Speak as much as you want, but don’t hog the spotlight, and be genuine, that’s the most important thing in the world. Don’t be a liar, don’t be a cheat, don’t be a weasel. If you’re a good person, these sorts of things will haunt you, and you’ll definitely regret it when you’re being rejected because the interviewers see right through you – they almost always will. They’ll avoid people with bad habits, bad attitudes, closed minds.
Answer: Yes, two 8 hour days of paid training at your hired waged.
Answer: Many variables here, how many hours are available, what you submit for availability, what time of year it is (summer, back to school, holiday, new product launches). When I was working there as part time with full availability, they gave me 40 hours (this was in the October/November period).
That’s it for now!
I hope that these questions answered will be of further help to you in your job hunt, I appreciate people commenting and reading and it motivates me to do more work on here (when I find the time for it). If you ended up getting hired because you took some advice here (and you feel that I was of valuable help), please consider making a donation, part of proceeds go to a local animal shelter near my house which feeds hungry cats & dogs . If you’d like to make a full donation to them on my behalf, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the coordinator so you can contribute yourself.