How To Get A Holiday Job

It's good too know that even seasonal jobs might possibly turn into permanent jobs.  According to this article, when hiring for open positions after the holidays employers tend to look more towards the seasonal employees who already know they're way around the company.  The seasonal hiring will help many families get through the holidays this year. -AL

If you’ve been in a long slog of a job search or you’re a student or retiree looking to make some extra cash, a holiday job can provide a stop-gap solution. Some of the nation’s largest retailers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart and of course Amazon, have boosted their holiday hiring plans this year. Shippers UPS and FedEx FDX +2.52% are also planning huge hiring surges, as ecommerce continues to tick up.

UPS announced it would nearly double the number of holiday workers it hired last year, going from 50,000 in 2013 to as many as 95,000 people this year. Last year UPS had trouble keeping up with the surging number of gifts that consumers ordered online, repeatedly apologizing and issuing refunds to customers. Ecommerce consulting firm eMarketer predicts that shoppers will spend $72.4 billion online this year, up 16.6% from last year. FedEx has said it will more than double its seasonal hires, from 20,000 last year to 50,000.

Among brick and mortar retailers, Macy’s has announced one of the most significant hiring hikes. The New York- and Cincinnati- based retailer will take on the largest seasonal workforce in the country, hiring 86,000 people to assist on the selling floors of its 840 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores across the country, to help customers at call centers and to staff distribution and fulfillment centers that handle shipments to stores and directly to customers who buy online. That’s up from 83,000 people last year. Of this year’s seasonal workforce, 3,000 people will work in individual stores’ “fulfillment areas,” says company spokesperson Sharon Bateman.

As customers shift their spending habits, retailers are changing the way they manage staffing, says Craig Rowley, vice president of the retail  sector at the Hay Group, a management consulting firm that put out a study in September saying that a quarter of American retailers expect a stronger holiday shopping season in 2014 over 2013. He says that retailers now expect people who work on the sales floors to handle “omnichannel” transactions. That refers to the new habits of customers who blend online shopping with in-store purchases. They might see an orange cotton scoop-necked knit top online and then head into a store to feel the fabric and try it on before ordering. If they don’t find their size or color, store managers want a salesperson to swoop in with an iPad, or bring them over to the computer at the register, and find the item at another store or warehouse, and make the sale before the customer leaves the store. “Sales associate jobs are becoming more complex,” he says. Retailers now look for temporary salespeople who are comfortable with technology and can make those sales. Omnichannel sales are also creating the kind of fulfillment area jobs Macy’s is filling, as stores start to serve the function of warehouses.

How much do seasonal jobs pay? Not a lot, says Rowley. In-store jobs range from $8-$10 an hour, while warehouse jobs, which require more physical labor, can go as high as $15.

But Macy’s spokesperson Bateman says that seasonal jobs can lead to permanent employment. When Macy’s has openings during the year, the first place the company looks is among people who have been a successful part of the seasonal workforce. Sometimes those workers move from sales and warehouse jobs onto the corporate track.

After Macy’s, the second largest holiday workforce will be at online retailing behemoth Amazon, which announced last week that it would hire 80,000 seasonal workers, up from 70,000 in 2013.

Macy’s competitor, Menomonee Falls, WI-based Kohl’s Department Stores, will bring on 67,000 seasonal workers this year. That’s up from 53,000 last year. Walmart also announced a holiday hiring surge of some 60,000 holiday workers, up from 55,000 in 2013.

If you’re looking for a holiday job, do not wait to apply. Most big employers kicked off their holiday hiring in September. But you don’t need to confine your search to gigantic corporate employers, says John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. If you’re a foody, consider that caterers and restaurants take on new staff over the holidays. If you’re a wine enthusiast, check to see whether your local bottle shop needs an extra clerk to handle holiday traffic. Or if you patronize a local store and know its merchandise and layout well, offer your services for the holidays and emphasize your familiarity with the inventory.

Aside from punctuality, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic, more than ever, employers are looking for scheduling flexibility and a willingness to work off hours. One day that employers have made an increasing focus: Thanksgiving. More stores will be open that day in 2024 says Challenger, and there’s no question that e-shoppers will already be making purchases soon after polishing off their pumpkin pie.

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