A Yahoo article paints a depressing picture of graduates who are either “jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.”
However, filler or temporary roles are not necessarily any easier to secure than more traditional ones. A tight job market and reluctance to hire the overqualified mean applications must be just as carefully worded.
Tailor your CV
As with all roles, your CV must be relevant. Use the job description to identify what’s most important (for example, particular experience or skills) and then address these requirements prominently in the first half of your CV. For example, you can turn general attributes (such as customer-facing or communication skills) into broad headings in either your skills or experience sections, giving concrete examples.
Don’t leave out your education or degree, but place it at the end of your CV. Maximise any part-time jobs or work experience from your university years in your work history section.
Include a cover letter
As well as an overview of what you bring to the role (such as relevant experience) give reasons why you’re interested. An employer will want to understand why you’re applying, and be reassured that you aren’t just looking for a stop-gap solution, or that you consider the role beneath your talents.
Your reasons for applying obviously depend on your personal situation. They could include (for part-time/temporary work) the possibility of simultaneously pursuing other projects, such as further studies, arts projects, or voluntary activities. Or perhaps you want a role with fewer hours to achieve a better work-life balance or to fit around other commitments.
There’s no reason why you can’t give any of the standard reasons: the chance to work with interesting products, services or people; or for a company with a particularly good reputation in the sector; or the opportunity to develop certain skills or to learn the business. Avoid implying you can’t wait to be promoted out of the job.
Try to find the business case for personal motivations. A convenient location might mean you’d be available for overtime or for work at short notice, for example.
No employer wants the hassle and expense of going through the hiring process all over again because you left as soon as something “better” came along. Banish any doubts about your commitment by clearly showing you understand the scope and limitations of the role, and that you’d still enjoy it.
Name / contact details
CV title (eg the job you’re applying for, such as “retail assistant”)
Keep this section brief, with a summary of your relevant experience and perhaps a key achievement that proves your abilities. If the job description contains essential requirements, address them here.
Hard-working and punctual retail assistant with experience in a busy West End store. Recognised as “employee of the month” for exceptional customer-service skills.
Follow with a skills section (useful if you need to highlight specific, job-related skills) or go straight into your work history section.
Include anything relevant to the role – paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time. If you’ve had several jobs, you can group your experience under key skills/ function headings (described earlier). Alternatively, you can adopt a more traditional chronological format, with a concise paragraph followed by your achievements.
Retail assistant – ABC Store (Summer work 2010, 2011)
Rapidly promoted from back-office admin and stock control to become first point of contact for customers. Answered queries, demonstrated products, and made customers feel welcome and valued.
• Consistently exceeded sales targets by 10%, and averaged an extra £15 spend by each customer through upselling.
• Voted by customers as “employee of the month” for “friendly and helpful” service and invited back for a second summer by store manager.
Keep this section brief, giving dates, institution, and degree awarded.