By Beckie Rackham – second year Design and Fashion Business student
It’s coming up to the end of the year now and student loans are running low; I work in retail, and there are currently LOTS of companies hiring for Christmas temporary staff. While it may not be a long-term money solution, temporary roles have their benefits in that: they’re usually flexible hours, giving you more once semester ends. Some money is better than none and normally you finish not long after New Year, meaning last-minute exam preparation isn’t too interrupted.
I’ve worked in retail for 3 and a half years, for two different companies, and after going through potential candidate’s CVs with my manager recently, a few things stood out that seemed to be important in getting this type of job.
- Being able to take in a lot of information in a short space of time is really important you will be going straight into the busy lead up to Christmas which, trust me, is a chaotic combination of running around like a crazy person and A LOT of tidying.
- Flexibility obviously employers understand university commitments and would never make you miss a lecture/society meeting but, you have to be willing to work around these. The shops start opening a bit later, but not too late that you would have to miss your night out (don’t worry!) and weekend shifts are always readily available.
- Actually wanting to work for that company, it’s fairly obvious that you won’t have applied for just that one job and even if it isn’t a shop you necessarily like, you have to show that you would really like to work for them. Showing knowledge of what they offer, maybe even some of their recent campaigns that you liked, would go well noted and make you stand out.
- Have you had a similar job before or one that demonstrates competence in working with people? Not every retailer will necessarily be looking for people who have previous experience, so just make sure you demonstrate that you can work in a team, even if it’s just from being on a sports team or in a society. Retailers really like people who show that they will be able to fit in nicely with the group and actually work well with others.
I think that the first stage in the application process is always the worst because, it takes a lot of time to perfect a CV and cover letter but, once you’re earning money, it definitely pays off! One source that really helped me when writing my cover letters was the examples on the Careers Service website. They were really clearly set out and helped divide cover letters into smaller sections, to make sure you get in all the information that is important.
If at first you don’t succeed persevere!
One thing to remember when applying for any job, whether it’s retail or not, one ‘no’ shouldn’t stop you from applying for more; all companies look for different things and what one looks for isn’t necessarily what another looks for. If you’re inspired to look for a Christmas job, try checking shopping centre websites and store windows, as that is where they will be advertising now!
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