3 valuable lessons from casual work

Don’t markdown the lessons learnt from casual work. You can gain lifelong benefits from casual filler stints between jobs or before you start a potentially more permanent career.

In fact Hays’ senior regional director Peter Noblet found his way into the recruitment industry thanks to a casual position. Noblet who was a university student at the time had gone to a recruitment agency looking for work. Instead of finding him a job with clients the recruitment agency offered him a casual role with them.

The rest is history. Noblet discovered his love for recruitment and used his foot in the door to launch a career that now spans more than 15 years.

The three invaluable lessons Noblet learned from that first recruitment industry job and other casual roles were:

  1. A foot in the door. Casual work gave Noblet the chance to prove himself to employers who soon saw his worth. “The whole reason I work in the recruitment industry and why it became my career was that I was given a casual administration role in an agency for the duration of an audit,” he says. “I didn’t have any skills or experience, but proved myself.” Most people in casual roles have existing or newly learnt skills that could lead to a more permanent opportunity. Sometimes it’s this breadth of skills and the willingness to put your hand up to take on any task that can lead to permanent work, and give you demonstrable experience to add to your resume.
  2. Gain skills. Noblet’s casual roles, which included pumping petrol, working in a warehouse and of course the recruitment role, gave him both soft and hard skills. He learned time management, conflict resolution skills and how to be professional and courteous. These transferrable interpersonal skills he picked up would be useful in any industry and gave him a head start on other young people his own age. Like other casual workers Noblet picked up valuable hard skills thanks to being pushed to take on new tasks and working with more experienced staff.
  3. Don’t be a snob. The biggest tip, says Noblet, is to get over the psychological stumbling block that there’s something wrong with working in a casual role. Chief executives of big organisations have risen from casual work to CEO. “It’s okay to work in a casual job because the opportunities (in life) are where you take them,” says Noblet. “Don’t just do it for the money,” he says. “Your casual job isn’t the end point, it’s the starting point. So keep your mind open to all opportunities.”

There are many many more benefits to casual work. It can help fill out a sparse resume. It may enable you to work in an industry that you’ve always dreamed off. Or you can use it to stress test an organisation and decide if it’s for you. Think of it as a way of doing due diligence on a potential employer.

“It’s okay to work in a casual job because the opportunities (in life) are where you take them,” says Noblet.

Now it’s time to get looking. Casual roles can be found in almost every industry and corner of New Zealand.