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How to Keep Your Summer Job After the Holidays

Want to turn your Christmas gig into a permanent role? You’ll need to follow this essential advice.

Casual summer jobs offer a heap of benefits – flexible hours, busy shifts, opportunities to meet new people and the chance to get your foot in the door at businesses that might not hire throughout the year.

If you’ve managed to land a summer gig and survived the busy holiday period, there’s a good chance you’ve settled in at your new workplace, made some friends and started to find your feet, so you probably want to stick around. A lot of Christmas roles will finish towards the end of January, so we asked some industry experts what you should be doing to give yourself the best chance of making your role permanent.

Brielle Flynn manages Acne Studios’ Sydney CBD store. She has more than 13 years’ experience in retail and has been in her current role for two years. She says managers often have permanency in mind when hiring Christmas casuals.

“I’m always trying to hire people who have the staying power and the longevity to remain in the team, but also people who are super flexible with availability,” says Flynn. “I value people who enjoy the pace around Christmas time. If someone gets stressed out by being busy or running around, then they’re probably not a great long-term fit.”

Flynn says if you’re trying to make your role permanent, attitude is everything.

“Some people do jobs just to make money, others genuinely enjoy their work. When you find people who love their job, who love the environment they’re in and the product they’re selling, it makes a huge difference,” she says. “I’m always looking for people who are eager and enthusiastic about the brand, as well as customer service.”

Flynn’s views on the importance of employee attitude are shared by lululemon people and culture manager Steph Meredith, who has nearly 10 years’ experience in HR and worked in customer service during her uni days. She says businesses take notice of employees who relish the Christmas rush.

“You’ve got to love being part of a team, bring a positive attitude to work and stay relaxed even in the biggest of rushes,” says Meredith. “It’s so much fun in stores during that time of year, helping people find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. When the team gets a kick out of creating a great guest experience it makes the whole peak season a fun and energising time.”

Meredith also says clear communication with management goes a long way towards making your role permanent.

“Be up-front with your availability and desire to work after Christmas. It really helps if employees are clear with their manager that they’re looking to extend their contract,” says Meredith. “Ask your manager for a coffee, share that you’d be keen to stay on and ask for any advice or feedback that will help you transition into a permanent role.”

Meredith transitioned into HR from customer service after a conversation with her manager where she outlined her desire to grow with the business. She says she was able to make the change by working collaboratively, expressing long-term enthusiasm and being available for any and all tasks in-store.

“I looked for jobs that needed doing and just did them, no questions asked. It kept me busy and engaged and helped the team. I told my manager how my career goals linked with the company’s goals and where I could see myself adding value beyond the holiday period,” says Meredith. “I always turned up early for my shifts and said yes to extra time if I could make it work, which helped me gain a reputation for being reliable and approachable.”

Flynn had less success converting a casual Christmas role when she was younger, but says she took plenty away from the experience.

“I wasn’t able to keep the job longer-term because I never wanted to turn up for my shifts. I don’t think I enjoyed it, my heart wasn’t in it,” says Flynn. “I learned a solid lesson: there’s only so many times you can try and get out of a shift or swap around before people realise you don’t want to be there.”

Flynn offers advice for anyone who’s found themselves in a similar position.

“Be prepared to work the shifts that you’re given. If you’re chopping and changing shifts a lot, it can give management a bad impression. Commitment to the job will go a long way towards getting you permanent work,” she says. “If you really invest, enjoy yourself and give it your all, you’ll be surprised at what can happen.”

If you’re applying for a permanent or full-time move from your casual role, there’s a chance you’ll have to interview for the position. Flynn says not to overlook the importance of an internal interview.

“Consolidate your knowledge of the company before you go to an interview. Know what you like about it and what inspires you,” she says. “If you’re inspired around wanting a job, it’s a lot more exciting for everyone.”

Meredith offers similar advice.

“Be curious. Taking an interest in the company vision will show that you have plans to develop with the business beyond the peak season, which is ultimately what you’re after.”

Photography: Jacqui Turk

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