What is a Job Trial and why should I attend one?
So you think you have found the job you have been looking for? That’s great, but WHOA just hold your horses a second… In my experience, interviewing alone can be a very inexact science. Before you shake hands on the deal, I strongly recommend all job seekers and all employers road test each other first with a job trial, at a pre-agreed paid rate of course. This might be the one thing that for you, secures your decision or it may be that you will look back and consider how you really dodged a bullet. Of course sometimes, for some people, a job trial is not always practical, but if it is, move heaven and earth, do yourself a favour and have one. There is nothing like a road test for really seeing first hand if something might be a fit; and you know we are all about job satisfaction and job longevity here at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Reruitment! Becky has shared some of her thoughts about job trials and of course, I can’t resist chipping in here and there. 😊
Road-Testing a Potential New Job
by Becky Parker
What is a Job Trial?
A ‘job trial’ is when you attend your prospective workplace for a set amount of time, usually between 1-3 days, sometimes longer, in order to experience the job for yourself and demonstrate your practical ability. The aim is to give yourself and the employer a chance to see when if when all the talking and negotiating is done, working together in real life will be a good fit for both parties.
Being asked to attend a trial is NOT an official offer of employment so be sure to do this during your legitimate time off if you are currently employed, just in case you aren’t offered the job after! Plus it is the honourable thing to do.
What are the benefits of attending a Job Trial?
Gaining greater knowledge of what the job involves
- You get to see just how many horses you will be grooming for vs the job ad. The numbers can be different! TOP TIP: Don’t forget to count the number of stables on the yard so you know how many can be accommodated at capacity. Also don’t forget to check numbers out in the field, these clearly can’t be ignored when it comes to care requirements ! Again the numbers can become different to those at the trial over time if the numbers of stables,in your opinion equate to an unmanageable number of horses for staff employed this is something to communicate or at the very least consider!
- Opportunity to get to know your work colleagues and employer better and get a feel for the atmosphere on the yard
- A chance to meet all the horses – how feisty/calm and within your riding/handling ability are they?
- Providing a chance to see how the rider trains and whether their practices and ethos align with your own
- A chance to show your best side to the employer in a more informal way than the sometimes intimidating interview situation
- Attending a job trial then declining the job as unsuitable for you is far better than taking a job than leaving after a few months. Job longevity is important for a successful equine career, and attending job trials can minimise job-hopping and keep your employment history in good form.
Can I do a Job Trial instead of going for a job interview?
In most instances attending a trial would be the third step in the selection process following a successful initial phone call and in-person job interview. However, there could be circumstances where your interview and trial will be combined if for example the employer is very busy or they are on a tight deadline to find someone. Don’t forget this is also something you can request yourself if YOU are short of time due to current employment hours or are having to drive a long distance to meet them and wish to save yourself the time and cost of making the same trip twice.
Tip from Caroline: Always double check, when you attend your job trial, that the employer is going to be present for at least some of the time. It may seem like a great time-saver for employers to delegate the interview/job trial to the team/outgoing groom but this rarely results in the desired outcome.
Do I live in during a Job Trial?
If you plan to live in with the position then you should probably expect to live in for the job trial, preferably in the prospective accommodation. This is one of the many benefits of the job trial as it gives you a chance to get a feel for the place, test everything actually works(!) and truly imagine if this is somewhere you can see yourself being comfortable and happy. That being said, the proposed accommodation may still be occupied but, at the very least you need to be able to view the proposed accommodation for you when you start the job.
Do I get paid for a Job Trial?
Generally an employer does not have to pay you for a trial shift – so long as this is truly a trial! However, you could ask the employer to pay any expenses if you are going to be out of pocket, but unfortunately you may just have to do the work voluntarily if you really want the job.
If the employer tells you that you are to work a full day, or even multiple days, weeks or even a month or more on trial then you must be paid. How much you are paid depends on your age and your level of experience, but you must receive at least the National Minimum Wage for your age. Some employers may be generous and offer you more.
Advice from ACAS is to agree payment or expenses in advance – this way you enter into a contract with the employer and thus have the right to be paid anything that is agreed. If you feel uncomfortable broaching the subject of payment please do contact the team at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment. As with all aspects of arranging and attending a job trial, we are always happy to discuss and advise.
It’s also worth mentioning that while you are on a job trial you are still entitled to statutory break times! You and your employer may want to make the most of your time at the yard but make sure you still get the opportunity to have breather and some refreshments. At minimum you are entitled to an uninterrupted 20 minute break when you’ve been working for 6 hours or more. You can find more information on statutory work breaks here.
BEFORE arranging and attending a job trial, ensure you KNOW what your accommodation arrangements will be (if applicable), the arrangements for your animals (if applicable) and what your salary package will be (always applicable!) if you do take the job permanently after the job trial. Read Caroline’s advice on negotiating a salary package here.
Should I bring my pets with me to a Job Trial?
If you will be taking a horse or pets to the new job then taking them to your job trial is a consideration, depending on the animal/s in questions and the length of your job trial. Though this will ultimately come down to the preference of the individual employer, we would recommend and in most cases do find that it is best to leave animals that are less easily uprooted and harder to settle such as horses and cats behind but if possible do bring your dog along. In the case of canine companions, this is a good chance to ensure they are likely to get along with any other resident yard dogs and to demonstrate that they are not likely to cause total mischief whilst out or if left behind. We are all so protective of our four-legged friends it’s a good idea to get their introductions sorted too so there is not likely to be any problems there in the future. And finally, it is also that all-important chance to assess your potential employer’s attitude your dog, whether that aligns with your own, and if you can live with that.
What do I need to take to a Job Trial?
Most importantly, appropriate and professional clothes for the job you will be required to do! For your convenience here is a brief and by no means comprehensive packing list. If you have any queries on essential items for living in simply pop a quick call or email to the team at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment or to your prospective employer. This just shows good organisation and planning!
- Clean, tidy, professional work attire (jods, not jeans or trakkies!)
- Hat, gloves, riding boots, chaps, wellies and possibly a body protector if you have one
- If you are likely to groom at a show during your trial you may wish to take any show turnout items that you favour for competition grooming, just in case (e.g. combs, grips etc).
- Casual clothes for the evening that will not scare your flatmates away!
- Food for breakfast/lunch/dinner if required – ensure you know the routine and requirements regarding food beforehand
- Bedding, if necessary – find out first
- Provisions for your dog, including his/her own bed
- Prior knowledge of where the nearest shops are for emergency supplies
- It’s imperative that you ensure you are covered by your employer’s insurance for your job trial – never leave yourself without insurance cover. Speak to the British Grooms Association or the British Horse Society if you would like advice on getting your own insurance cover for work.
- It may be a good idea to have some form of ID with you, along with emergency contact names and numbers
- Don’t forget to take your driving licence if the job requires you to drive their own yard vehicles/horse lorry.
- Don’t forget your passport if your job trial is overseas, or requires any overseas travel!
What if I didn’t enjoy the Job Trial and don’t want to take the job?
This does happen and is one of the many reasons why attending a trial is a good idea. Remember this is as much a test of whether the job will be right for you as it is of whether you will be right for employer and yard. Just don’t go disappearing off the radar because you are too chicken to tell them so! That would be a major stumble into failing at your job hunt. Give the employer (or us) a call the next day once you have slept on it and are sure this is the right decision and politely tell them you don’t think this is the job for you. If you feel happy to give a reason (that isn’t hurtful or offensive!) then do so but it is also perfectly fine to keep it ambiguous. Always contact us if you would like to discuss your job trial before accepting or rejecting an offer of employment.
Top Tip from Caroline: It is well worth researching a job, yard and/or employer before arranging and attending a job interview and/or job trial. This saves wasting any of your own, or employer’s and their team’s time if it is clear that the work environment isn’t right for you. Remember The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment is a good source for feedback and information on jobs and yards, and we are always happy to offer impartial advice. We are in the business to help put the right people into the right jobs. It’s not in our interest to do anything other than this.
Tips on staying safe whilst attending a Job Trial
We brought you what we’ve been told is an excellent article at the end of last year that covers in detail the things to watch out for and remember in order to keep yourself safe whilst at a job interview or job trial. It can be tempting to put on a brave face and harder still to say ‘No’ to something you’re worried about when you are trying so hard to make a good first impression but it really is NOT worth it. Any employer worth their salt should respect you MORE for being honest about your limitations and wise enough to point out when a situation looks to be dangerous.
- Make sure family and/or reliable friends know where you are and what your arrangements are for your job trial.
- Make sure the employer of the job trial has your emergency contact information – who to call in the event of accident or illness, a list of any known allergies, and any medication you are currently taking.
- Keep it real – no bigging yourself up and winging it! Don’t overstate your abilities and don’t just go along with anything. It is far better to discuss your abilities than prove your lack of them! If a potential employer presents a challenge you have doubts about, don’t wing it! You have far too much to lose by risking an accident.
- Don’t allow yourself to be used as a dummy jockey for the trickiest horse in the yard who no one else can sit on – it does happen and the consequences can be dire.
- Keep your wits about you and take everything around you in.
- It’s worth reiterating here: it’s imperative that you ensure you are covered by your employer’s insurance for your job trial – never leave yourself without insurance cover. Speak to the British Grooms Association or the British Horse Society if you would like advice on getting your own insurance cover for work.
Before going off to attend an interview or job trial it’s a very good idea have a read of Caroline’s advice on staying safe at a job interview. The same considerations apply to a job trial. You can read the article here.
Finally, a few final pointers on making a good impression and ensuring you make the most of this opportunity. Present your best version of yourself during the job trial time. Of course, be smiley, be helpful, show keen and interested in the way the yard runs, what the riders aims are and the characters/history of each of the horses. Most importantly, be yourself. If being yourself doesn’t work the job probably won’t be right for you. This shouldn’t be difficult if this is the right job for you but when you are nervous it can be easy to seem disinterested when really, you are just shy so make an effort to be open and start conversations. Never be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of how something is done. Every yard has their own way of doing things so it doesn’t mean you are clueless it just shows you are wanting to do things right. Remember this is also a chance for you to almost ‘interview’ the employer and check the job is as it has been described to you so ask questions of any fellow staff members, liveries, regular yard visitors too. Last but not least, try to take a little moment (subtly) during your time there to stop and think about whether you are enjoying yourself! That is, when it comes down to it, the greatest test of a ‘job trial’.
After you’ve completed the job trial, if everything is agreeable and you are thinking of accepting a job offer, do remember to discuss the final arrangements with your new employer, get it all in writing, and don’t just set a date to start work!
Now you should be all set for a happy and successful working relationship with your new employer! Good luck, and stay in touch!