Holiday Jobs: 6 Tips to Get and Keep Them

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Many companies hire extra help for the holidays. While this typically starts before Halloween and peaks shortly after, a survey from CareerBuilder shows this year's different: Employers are hiring later and paying more.

There’s still time to get a seasonal job. And they’re paying better this year too.

According to a study released earlier this month by CareerBuilder, about 3 in 10 businesses are hiring extra hands for the end of the year. More than half will pay at least $10 an hour, with 14 percent paying $16 an hour or more. Both of those numbers are up from last year.

It’s true that these gigs disappear quickly, but the survey says a third of employers are still recruiting in November, and 11 percent will be in December. So if you’re still hunting, don’t give up. Here are the major categories they’re looking to fill…

  • Customer service (30 percent)
  • Administrative/clerical support (16 percent)
  • Shipping/delivery (15 percent)
  • Technology (12 percent)
  • Stock (10 percent)
  • Non-retail sales (9 percent)
  • Accounting/finance (8 percent)
  • Marketing (8 percent)

Some of these spots may become permanent, full-time work. CareerBuilder says about a third of employers plan to do that with some positions. If you want to improve the odds of getting one of them, here are some tips based on what the survey says employers are looking for…

  1. Do some research. Look good and sound better. Employers don’t like applicants who are clueless about the company and its products (according to CareerBuilder, 36 percent fall into this category) and people who show up wearing clothes or merchandise from competitors (22 percent, believe it or not). Once you’re hired for the season, learn everything you can about what the company’s selling and show off your knowledge to your superiors.
  2. Stay flexible. Take whatever shifts you’re offered without complaint – because those are the hours nobody else wants and that the manager is struggling to fill. 70 percent of employers said they were turned off by applicants who were unwilling to work certain hours. Avoid that, and you’ll immediately stand out even before you’ve lifted a finger.
  3. Say you want to stay. Half of employers recommended this, so don’t assume your employer knows you want to stay on permanently. (Some people just want holiday discounts, something 40 percent of employers say they hate.) During the job interview, express your interest in full-time work and ask if they’re looking for people after the holidays. And remind them a few weeks into the job.
  4. Be proactive. 66 percent of employers want to see “above-and-beyond customer service.” Consider this a trial period instead of a quick way to stuff your financial stocking – show off your best by offering help without being asked. Try to work harder than the full-timers. Ask for more projects and make sure you keep busy, because the moment you have nothing to do is inevitably the moment the boss is going to walk by.
  5. Offer ideas. A third of employers want to hear thoughtful questions and another third want new ideas. So pay attention to the way the company works and look for ways to improve it. Ask questions both in the interview and on the job about what the company is looking for, and try to come up with ways to help that go beyond your basic duties. Don’t worry if your suggestions are minor – as with gifts, it’s the thought that counts.
  6. Be energetic. The chaos of holiday shopping is some of the worst many companies see all year. If you can embrace it, stay in good cheer, and keep your cool with the worst customers, you’re demonstrating you can handle the other 10 months. 63 percent of employers are turned off by people who aren’t enthusiastic.

We’ve got more advice in Jobs for the Holidays and 7 Tips to Get Hired. But even if you can’t score a seasonal job, remember that there’s temp work offered all year long. Check out 3 Reasons to Try Temporary Work.

Stacy Johnson

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