Many job hunters will get an early present this year as retailers are increasing the number of hires for the holiday season. Competition for these jobs will likely be fierce, and the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) recommends applying early and taking steps to put your best foot forward.
According to sources, many retailers are looking for more seasonal employees this year than in previous years. Toys R Us alone is hiring 45,000 holiday employees and other retail giants are hiring 20 or even 30 percent more seasonal staff than last year. According to the outsourcing firm, Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, as many as 600,000 people are expected to get holiday jobs this year.
"The holiday season will create a significant bump in the number of job openings, particularly in the retail and restaurant industry," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. "While the jobs are usually temporary, this is great news for struggling families and people who have had problems finding work."
The BBB offers the following advice for job hunters this holiday season:
Start the job search earlier rather than later -- The key to landing a seasonal job is to start searching early. Retail, shipping, restaurants and catering companies are common sources of seasonal employment and now is the time for job hunters to determine which job suits them best, identify companies they'd like to work for and then begin submitting applications and résumés.
Work where you shop -- Try to identify seasonal employment with businesses you actually shop at or frequent. You will already be familiar with the company and its products and, secondly, discounts available for employees mean significant savings when shopping for Christmas gifts. Discounts can range from 20 to 40 percent for seasonal employees.
Put your best foot forward -- Even if you are just picking up an application at stores in the mall, dress your best and be prepared for an interview. This includes being familiar with the company's brand and its products. Retail job hunters in particular need to focus on impressing potential employers with their customer service skills - which is a must when dealing with stressed-out shoppers, long check-out lines and after-holiday returns.
Be flexible -- Full-time employees usually have first dibs on the preferred hours and shifts, so as a seasonal employee, expect to work long, sometimes inconvenient hours, including working on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. If this is a second job in addition to your day job, be upfront and clear with your new employer about your available hours.
For more advice on making it through the holidays, go to www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/