Make the switch from temporary to permanent

 Make an impression, and make it permanent! 

Seasonal work has been an important part of the UK economy for a long time and will continue to be so as long as we have an agricultural industry and Christmas. As Christmas is around the corner, I thought I would look at Christmas jobs and how the opportunity to work on a temporary basis over the Christmas holidays can lead to a permanent job.

According to analysts, Christmas spending hit an all-time record £77bn in the UK in 2016 across all channels, almost twice the continental European average. There is definitely a shift towards shopping on the mobile phone or tablet, so the boom in jobs is likely to be in the back offices and warehouses rather than on the shop floor. Whatever the location, and even in non-retail environments such as hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, how can you use a temporary or seasonal opportunity to demonstrate a longer term commitment?

Any role is a “foot in the door” at an organisation. The internet is bristling with stories of the rise from intern to CEO , and even hospital porter to consultant. As they say in show business, there is no such thing as a small part, just a small actor. Get the small things right, and you will get a chance at the big time. So check out the top tips below.

Do your research

Find out as much as you can about the company – even if it’s a household name, find out who owns it, how long it has been in business, what its top products / services are and the demographic of the customer base. All this will assist you in the interview process, but it will also help you to decide if it is an organisation you would want to work for in the longer term, so that you are putting your effort in a direction worth travelling in. Check the organisation’s website, Twitter, YouTube or Facebook pages, and set up a Google alert to get any up to the minute news that could help seal the interview.

First impressions

Tailor your cv or application to show that you have more than a casual interest in the industry or sector. On the day, be punctual and look the part, and have some anecdotal evidence to hand to demonstrate that you have the skills they are looking for, and more. You might find that whilst they are looking for casual staff in the short term, there may be permanent or more senior positions available in the company and anyone with a hiring responsibility will have an eye out for suitable candidates.

Work ethic

Everyone likes a team player, so make sure you show willing to cover for others, do overtime, help train new starters, show enthusiasm when things get tough, and celebrate any successes to improve the morale of the team. No-one likes a moaner, so remain positive. There will always be things to complain about in any job. If it’s a permanent job you want, park your “attitude” for now and focus on getting a permanent position and doing something about it once you are hired!

Lean in

Once hired, get involved in any social or group activities or networking opportunities, however small. Make management aware of any relevant previous experience you have if you see an opportunity to improve a process or procedure, or if you become aware of a specific risk or challenge. You may have to be extra tactful about this when around permanent staff, so as not to look like a patronising know-it-all.

Be flexible

If possible, be prepared to take any role on offer, or a different role, if you can see possibilities for advancing in time to your desired role. In most cases, it is better to apply for jobs from a position of having a job already, so whatever happens, you are keeping up your employment record and hopefully learning something new that you can add to your cv. Once through the door, even part-time, act like a full-timer and attend as many meetings as you can, take part in activities and don’t marginalise yourself. If there’s a company picnic or team building day on your day off, try to make arrangements to go. If you show the commitment, you will be taken more seriously if a full-time job becomes available and you throw your hat into the ring. You never know who makes the decisions when it comes to the hiring process – it may be someone you bump into at any point in your day, so smile, have fun, and take part.

How am I doing?

There may not be opportunities in a temporary job to have formal assessments or appraisals, so try to engineer some informal sessions for feedback from your supervisor or manager, and you will demonstrate that you are conscientious, which is always good and can differentiate you from other more casual candidates. Seasonal or temporary work is associated with very busy times, like the Christmas shopping season, so pick your time carefully – no-one will want to give you feedback halfway through a busy shift. You will need to be creative about getting your manager’s attention.

Make it clear

If you need to go full-time and earn more for a specific reason, figure out your target date to go full-time and have a conversation with your manager about it. It certainly focuses the mind if they know that you will not be available after a certain date, and if they really want to keep you, they may find a way. At least you have been upfront and clear about it and have initiated a decision point, rather than just let things just amble on aimlessly. If nothing else, and you find out a permanent or full-time job is not an option, you can focus your attention elsewhere. If you don’t tell people what you need and when, they can’t help you. Now’s the time to be open and honest about your goals.

Next steps

At the least, approach your manager prior to your contract ending with a direct request for feedback or a reference, and if you have enjoyed the experience of working with them, express it then, with an entirely reasonable request for more work if it is available. Most organisations will prefer to recruit internally, as it saves time and money for them. Aim to at least find out how they go about recruiting permanent staff, and whether there are vacancies in any other branches or offices. You are on the inside, so make best use of it. This sort of information is nearly impossible to find out when you are back on the outside.

Finally, if you’ve ever fancied a season as the big man in red, read on.

Next week, I’ll be looking at salary negotiations. Because you are worth it!

Until next week!