Temping has traditionally been seen as a poor alternative to getting a “proper” job. But in increasingly volatile economic times, employers are switching to taking on temps for many different reasons. From their point of view, being able to hire staff on a weekly basis gives them the flexibility they need in their business. In most cases, the temps are employed by an external agency rather than by the client business. Although there are lots of benefits to a business, what’s in it for you as a worker? Is signing up with a temp agency worth consideration? Gaining Work Experience Quickly If you need a quick cash injection after graduating, or need to fill up your CV a bit with proof you’ve been doing proper work, then temping can be the perfect solution. The main advantage to temping is that agencies often get you into work straight away. Most will ask you to go in for a chat, talk about the type of work you’re interested in, complete a few tests and wait for the call. Starting work the next day isn’t unheard of, if you’re flexible. Even if the temp work isn’t something you want to do long term, you can put a positive spin on things for your CV. Any type of work can show you’re reliable, trustworthy and can work as part of a team. And if you really don’t like the work, the agency will usually be able to switch you into another, more suitable position. Temp to Perm Agencies may also advertise vacancies on a “temp to perm” basis. This means that although the vacancy is temporary initially, there is the possibility that it might become permanent in the future. This could be in a couple of months, or anything up to a year. It’s usually only a good idea to take on a temporary to permanent position if you’re interested in working for the company in the long term. If not, look for purely temporary work instead. Even if a job isn’t designed to be permanent, being inside an organisation as a temp might give you access to vacancies which aren’t advertised externally. A longer term temping position also allows you to develop relationships and start networking with your colleagues. On Your Best Behaviour! One of the key pieces of advice for any temp is to always have your eyes on the main prize of getting a permanent job. This means giving everything your best effort, even if you’re just temping in a basic admin position. Do a great job, and the agency are more likely to put you forward for a more challenging position in the future. Your boss in the admin department might know of a vacancy in marketing or engineering which you’re a perfect fit for. None of this is going to happen if you resent your position as a temp, turn up late and only do the bare minimum needed to get by.
Most job hunters spend hours crafting the perfect CV, knowing that this is one of the best ways of showing your experience and qualifications. But just as important is the cover letter which you send off with your CV. This is your chance to sell yourself, and secure an all-important interview. Lots of people get cover letters very wrong. So here are our top tips for writing a killer cover letter. Customise It We know that it’s time-consuming to write a fresh letter for each job you apply for. However, employers can spot a generic cover letter a mile off. It’s really worth taking the time and making an effort to come up with something original for every position. This also gives the opportunity for you to state exactly why you deserve an interview for the vacancy. Go Beyond Your CV Too many people just reiterate facts which have already been stated on their CV. Don’t just make generic statements such as “I managed a team of six people”. This is your opportunity to talk a bit more about the approach you took to meet challenges in your last job, or give a few more details to illustrate your experience. Try to use the words and phrases included on the job advert when crafting your letter. If, for example, the advert talks about someone being “detail-focused”, explain how you developed that skill in a past job. Keep it Brief Although it’s very tempting to write the equivalent of War and Peace, explaining every aspect of your experience and qualifications, there’s no need to do so. The idea is to give the employer enough information to help them decide whether it’s worth calling you for interview or not. Leave the smaller details for interview should they wish to ask. Concentrate on your major achievements and most important experience. On side of A4 paper, either handwritten or typed, is plenty for a covering letter. Spellcheck and Proofread Employers often receive hundreds of covering letters and have to come up with a quick and easy way of cutting them down to decide who to interview. Often, anyone who hasn’t followed specific instructions such as sending a handwritten letter or printing your CV in black ink will have their application rejected. The same applies to spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, so get someone to check over your cover letter before hitting the send button. Get The Right Name Starting your letter “to whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir” isn’t the approach you’ll looking for when applying for a job. If a name is given on the advert, address your letter to that person. If not, it might be worth calling the company to ask. At the end of the letter, try to finish with remark about hoping to hear from them soon, or encouraging them to contact you if they require more details. Always remember to include your own name and contact details so they can contact you to offer you an interview.
Very few people have a spotless, perfect CVs. We’ve all done jobs which didn’t progress our career, but were just a stopgap to pay the bills. Perhaps you didn’t do as well in your A-levels as you’d hoped, or sacked from a previous position. Increasingly, companies are fact-checking CVs for lies and half-truths, especially for more senior positions. The best tactic is to come clean about your work and qualification history, but is it possible to turn a negative into a positive? Gaps on Your CV One of the most common problems is gaps on your CV. This could be down to periods of unemployment, or time off for bringing up children or caring for relatives. Don’t try to hide these periods, or stretch periods of employment to cover up. Don’t be ashamed of gaps on your CV. If asked what you were doing during the periods when you weren’t working, it’s fine to say you had caring responsibilities, were travelling or took some time out to study. Lack of Work Experience This is a major problem for younger applicants or students who haven’t done any work relevant to the position they are applying for. That’s not to say you should make something up. Any sort of work experience can be used to show that you’re trustworthy, a team player and reliable. Experience in playing in a sports team or volunteering for charity is valuable too, and can be used to show your character and abilities. Rather than concentrating on the nitty-gritty of what the job entailed, focus instead on the skills which the role taught you. I’ve Been Fired Don’t feel that you have to write reasons for leaving any position on your CV, so there’s no need to declare up front that you were sacked. If you’re asked in an interview about why you left, it’s best to be honest. If your skills weren’t up to scratch, you could say that you have in the meantime filled your knowledge gaps. Alternatively, if the sacking was a couple of jobs back, you could instead turn attention to what you’ve been doing in the interim. Don’t be afraid of saying you were a victim or downsizing or redundancy either; it’s increasingly common. Poor Qualifications If you didn’t do as well at school as you’d hoped, then this can look bad on your CV too. If you’re further on in your career, passes might not matter as much. It’s probably more sensible to structure your CV with work experience first, and academic information at the end. You don’t have to give the grades either unless specifically asked; it’s fine just to write that you have passes and then give the subjects. Lack of Management Experience Making the move into a management role is tough if you haven’t done any leadership roles in the past. However, you can draw on experience in other fields such as sports, or voluntary work, to give examples of time when you led a team or managed conflict.
Every advice site about writing your CV will stress the importance of keeping things brief. Two sides of A4 is as long as any CV should ever be. If you’ve been to school, college, and have professional qualifications too, then your qualifications alone could fill that space, and more. What type of qualifications are worth including, and which can be disregarded? Consider the Stage of Your Career Your CV isn’t a static thing which you just add to as you progress through your career. If you’re in your late teens, then your A-level grades are far more relevant than they are when you’re in your forties. Similarly, if you’ve done lots of professional training or obtained certificates in a specific skill, these are probably more relevant than the exams you sat at school. Each time you move on to a different position, take the opportunity to re-evaluate your CV and think about whether it’s time to condense the academic section. Recent Graduates – Degree and Subject Marks If you’re about to leave University, or are a recent graduate, your degree subject and classification should be at the top of your academic section on your CV. There’s no need to list every class you studied and every grade; if employers want to see an academic transcript they can request this separately. You may also wish to include your A-level or Scottish Higher passes and grades, but omit your GCSE or National 5 passes if there isn’t space. Many graduates write “8 GCSE passes including Maths and English” or similar rather than listing each one separately. Professional Qualifications Employers are also going to be interested in other types of qualifications other than the purely academic. If, for example you have been trained on specific software packages, or done professional qualifications in Marketing, Accounting, Project Management or similar, then these may be more relevant to your application. This is especially true if your degree is in a subject which isn’t directly related to the field you are hoping to work in. It’s also worth mentioning any professional qualifications which you are working towards, even if you haven’t sat any exams yet. This shows a willingness to learn, and that you are ambitious to progress in your career. Other Qualifications No employers are going to be interested in things like swimming certificates or cycling proficiency. But evidence of other types of skills can be a valuable addition to any CV. If you’ve taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh programme, for example, you could use this to show planning and teamwork. Having a food hygiene certificate is useful for roles in catering or food production. If there is a possibility that you might be asked to drive to visit clients or customers for a job, mention that you have a driving licence. Employers may also be interested in first aid qualifications, or qualifications in coaching sport or refereeing, as this demonstrates a wide range of skills.