What is Mystery Shopping and Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?Written by Cathy Stucker
Mystery shoppers visit businesses “disguised as normal customers,” and do things other customers do—ask questions, make a purchase, make a return—but with a twist. These undercover customers are there to evaluate businesses and their employees. After a visit, mystery shopper completes a report or questionnaire detailing what occurred.
Why Do Businesses Hire Mystery Shoppers? In general, shops are done to find out about level of service provided to customers. However, mystery shoppers may also be asked to verify that employees are neatly groomed and in uniform, business is clean and merchandise is displayed neatly, staff persons are knowledgeable, etc. As a mystery shopper, you may be asked to verify if employees used a certain phrase (such as, “Thank you for shopping at Mega Mart.”) or if they used suggestive selling techniques (“Would you like fries with that?”). You may even be asked to shop a client's competitor, so client can compare their operations to others’. Mystery shoppers may monitor pricing, or verify that business is in compliance with professional standards or government regulations.
One common misconception about mystery shoppers is that they are just looking for what is wrong. In fact, a mystery shopper is there to provide an objective view of business, and they report on good as well as not-so-good.
Mystery shoppers seek answers to questions. Were you greeted when you entered store? Were shelves properly stocked? Was store clean? Did rest rooms have soap and tissue? How long did it take to be served? Did salesperson tell you about available service contract? Did cashier properly count out your change? Afterward, they fill out a form or write a report describing what they observed.
Mystery shopping is not opinion research. Shoppers are not paid to give their opinions, they are paid to report their observations.
When evaluating businesses, mystery shoppers are eyes and ears of business owner. Shoppers tell them how customers see business. Most businesses have service standards and rules for safety and security. Mystery shoppers tell business owner whether his employees are living up to standards and following rules.
Businesses use information from shopper reports to reward good employees, identify training deficiencies, make stores safer for employees and customers, and much more. Companies may base performance evaluations and bonus pay outs at least in part on results of mystery shops.
Online Resume FormatsWritten by Michelle Roebuck
There are several types of online resume formats that can be used when contacting potential employers. When you search for job openings online, some companies will have on their websites which online resume format is acceptable.
If you don’t know which format is acceptable to a certain company, call them and ask. The worst thing you can do is send an online resume in wrong format and have it ignored.PLAIN TEXT RESUME
This format is also referred to as ASCII. Many companies used to accept this type of resume a few years ago when searching for a job on internet was still new. When this format is used, resume is written in plain text with no formatting. The resume is sent in an email to employer.
Unfortunately, because resume is unformatted, it looks pretty ugly and is hard to read. With advancements in word processing and email functions, companies are turning towards more professional looking online resume formats.PDF RESUME
This type of resume is delivered to employer in PDF format (Portable Document Format). You write your resume in Microsoft Word or some other word processing program, format it, convert it to PDF and save it. The file can be sent by email as an attachment. The employer needs to have a PDF viewer or Adobe Acrobat in order to view it.
Sometimes this can pose a problem because of computer viruses. People are wary about opening attachments to emails. If employer wants you to submit your resume by this method, go ahead and do it. More than likely, they have software that can detect viruses in attachments.