How to turn casual into permanent

Take casual work seriously. It could be your ticket to the perfect permanent job by leveraging the experience you’ve gained. You could also have many more valuable skills to populate your CV with than you ever imagined.

It could be your ticket to the perfect permanent job by leveraging the experience you've gained.

Google the words: "what can I learn from working at McDonald's" and you'll see that even flipping burgers gives you great employment skills. You will have learned how to work in a fast paced environment, be organised, and interact with customers.

Casual work gives graduates (and other young people) an insight into the workforce and a range of work skills. It’s not just “a job at the local video store”.

A good work record in a café, call centre or any industry may be what makes one CV stand out ahead of an otherwise identical one, says Colin Mathieson, managing director at Alpha Recruitment. It can supercharge your CV.

“Take whatever you have done and turn it into a positive," says Mathieson. "Analyse your casual job. Think what you needed to do that job well. Be confident about what you have done."

Those skills include:

  • Sales skills. If you’ve worked in a casual retail job you’ve probably learned a lot about how to sell to people. Spell this out on your CV: ‘It gave me an aptitude for selling’. Can you quantify your success? Did you have sales targets you can mention?
  • Customer service. The classic holiday or weekend job in hospitality or retail sets a young person up for customer service roles. Say on your CV: ‘I have customer facing experience and learned to solve problems’.
  • Leadership. Working as a casual sports coach or holiday programme employee translates into leadership skills. 'I led team sports', or 'I led games and activities at the school holiday programme'.
  • Team work. Many jobs involve working in a team. Casual gardening work or even as a stop-go man or woman can give you this experience. ‘I learned the importance of working as a team’.
  • Humility. Packing supermarket shelves or working on a production line shows that you are prepared to get the work done and get your hands dirty, says Mathieson. It shows that you’ve got a can-do attitude and are not a prima donna. 'I am happy to do whatever tasks are required in this role'.
  • Time keeping. Whatever the role you can learn the importance of time keeping. Did you arrive on time always? Did you meet deadlines for your role? Say: 'I am used to early starts'.
  • Organisational skills: Did you need to organise projects or other people? 'I organised the department's Christmas party'. Or 'I was responsible for co-coordinating the team's diaries'.
  • Quality control. Even a factory job requires attention to detail and high standards. Shelf stackers need good aesthetic standards, as do jobs in food preparation. 'I learned the importance of quality control'.
  • Physical fitness. If your role requires fitness then having done casual manual work or worked in a gym is a bonus. 'I have the stamina to do a physically demanding job'.
  • Motivation. Did your role require you to be a self starter? 'I learned to work well without supervision.'

Taking a causal position seriously also means considering whether you could actually turn your current job into a more permanent position - maybe even work your way into a management role or different department. You already have your foot in the door.

You can increase your chances of becoming permanent by following some straightforward rules:

  • Always treat casual work seriously
  • Look professional
  • Turn up on time – always
  • Volunteer to learn more