By Brent Rasmussen, president, CareerBuilder North America
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and with it brings the possibility of temporary opportunities for job seekers. With consumer confidence falling in October*, retailers expect seasonal hiring to be relatively on par with last year’s numbers. According to CareerBuilder’s just released job forecast (see survey infographic here), 29 percent of retailers plan to employ extra help to weather the holiday season, down slightly from 33 percent in 2010.
As you might expect, customer service positions are the most in-demand, but employers are looking to fill seasonal roles throughout their organizations. When asked where their organizations needed workers this holiday season, employers listed a variety of functional areas:
- Customer service (30 percent)
- Administrative/clerical support (16 percent)
- Shipping/delivery (15 percent)
- Technology (12 percent)
- Inventory management (10 percent)
- Non-retail sales (9 percent)
- Accounting/finance (8 percent)
- Marketing (8 percent)
Although seasonal hiring plans are expected to remain static compared to 2010, the good news for job seekers is that employers who are hiring plan to pay higher wages. Fifty-three percent of employers surveyed expect to pay seasonal workers $10 or more an hour, and 14 percent expect to pay $16 or more; this is up from 48 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in 2010.
While holiday jobs fill up quickly, it’s not too late to start applying. According to the survey, 33 percent of employers who are hiring seasonal staff reported they are still recruiting for open positions in November. Seasonal jobs can be found by searching career websites, going directly to a company’s “careers” page or checking out specialized retail job boards, such as WorkInRetail.com.
Turning a seasonal position into a permanent one
Taking a seasonal job can be advantageous for many reasons. It can help fill an employment gap, teach new skills, expand your professional network and, above all else, provide income even if only for a few months. Unfortunately, for many workers a seasonal job is also a missed opportunity. The CareerBuilder survey found that 30 percent of employers plan to transition some employees they hire for the holidays into full-time, permanent staff, yet workers don’t always take the necessary steps to turn their temporary job into a full-time one. Even in this highly competitive market, you can stand out from your seasonal co-workers by asserting yourself as the leading candidate for any long-term opportunities.
Here are some ways you can tip the permanent hiring odds in your favor:
Make your intentions known from the start
If you are going into a seasonal job hoping to turn it into a permanent one, don’t hesitate to tell your manager from the start. That way, he or she is aware of your long-term professional goals and will know to keep you in mind once a permanent position becomes available.
Provide above and beyond customer service
According to the survey, 66 percent of hiring managers said workers who provide above and beyond customer service will rise to the top of the long-term candidate pool. In other words, don’t just tell your boss you want to stay with the company permanently, prove it. To ensure you’re top-of-mind, offer to help with something instead of waiting to be asked, and treat customers with respect and kindness. Managers want to hire someone they can count on as well as someone they want to work with for 40 hours each week.
Be proactive, not passive
When someone calls in sick or asks for a day off, volunteer to pick up the additional shift. If you notice your boss is working on a project outside of your day-to-day tasks, lend an extra hand. Forty-five percent of hiring managers cite proactively asking for more projects as a good way to get noticed for a full-time opportunity. The more projects you work on and additional hours you log, the more exposure you’ll get to your manager and to the company’s various functions.
Show you care about the company
Thirty-nine percent of hiring managers said that if you’re looking to turn your temporary job into a full-time career, ask thoughtful questions about the organization. Ask your employer about the company’s values or what he or she sees as the department’s opportunities and challenges for the coming year. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate that you’re invested and genuinely interested in the company and are looking for ways to contribute beyond your original role.
Prove you are forward-thinking
Without being presumptuous, show your employer you’re already thinking long term by suggesting ways a process can be more efficient or sharing ideas on new initiatives to try. Regardless of whether your suggestions are implemented, speaking up will prove to your employer that you are thoughtful, have interesting ideas and — if permanently hired — will make positive contributions to the company.
The bottom line for all seasonal job seekers: The season is an opportune time to turn a temporary stint into a full-time, permanent career. If that’s your goal, make sure to apply early, let the manager know from the start that you’re interested in long-term employment and prove you’re an indispensible asset to the company.
Click here to see an infographic related to the survey.
*According to an October 2011 report from The Conference Board, a private research group.
Brent Rasmussen is president of CareerBuilder North America. An accomplished strategist and industry veteran, Rasmussen heads day-to-day operations, driving the innovation, expansion and ongoing revenue growth of CareerBuilder.com — the U.S.’s largest online job site — and CareerBuilder Canada. Prior to joining CareerBuilder, Rasmussen served as manager of Business Services for Xerox Corporation.