Holiday Season Hiring Outlook

seasonal jobsIf you are hoping to snag a seasonal job during this year's holidays, it's time to start looking now. Like the rest of the job market, competition will be fierce. What you might not think about, though, is that a seasonal job can be your ticket to full-time employment.

"Competition for seasonal positions will be intense as the job market is flooded with qualified candidates vying for a smaller number of open positions," said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America. "Employers tell us they are accepting the majority of their seasonal applications during October and November, meaning job seekers need to identify and apply for those opportunities now."

Because of the weaker economy and expected soft holiday retail sales, employers do not anticipate a robust seasonal hiring period this year. The outlook for seasonal hiring in the fourth quarter of 2009 is projected to be similar to 2008, according to CareerBuilder's "Seasonal Hiring 2009″ survey of more than 2,900 hiring managers. Eighteen percent of hiring managers plan to take on seasonal workers to meet business needs associated with the holidays and end-of-the-year wrap-ups, on par with 17 percent in 2008.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers hired an additional 231,000 workers during the 2008 holiday season, a substantial drop from the 618,000 they hired in 2007. During the holidays, while some retailers were hiring seasonal workers, others were shedding full- and part-time jobs from stores and corporate offices. Since January 1, 2008, the retail industry has lost 770,000 jobs.

Here are some of the other results from the CareerBuilder survey:

What's the good news long-term job seekers? Seasonal positions may prove to be the break job seekers are looking for as 31% of hiring managers indicate they are likely to hire a seasonal worker for a full-time position. Here are some tips if you are seeking seasonal employment:

  • Start applying early – 77% of hiring managers do not plan to accept applications for seasonal workers beyond November. Especially in a competitive job market, getting your resume in early will help your chances of securing a position.

  • Do your homework – Nearly a quarter of hiring managers say that having no knowledge of the company or products deterred them from hiring a seasonal candidate in the past. Check out the company's Web site before the interview and familiarize yourself with products, services, press announcements, etc so the hiring manager knows you're serious about the opportunity.

  • Show enthusiasm – Nearly half of employers say they were turned off by a candidate who lacked enthusiasm during their interview. Convey that you're excited about the opportunity to contribute to the success of the organization and stay away from saying the primary reason you want the position is for the employee discount.

  • Dress the part – If you are interviewing for a job in a retail clothing store, it's a good idea to show up dressed in an outfit from that store. One-in-ten (11 percent) hiring managers said candidates who interviewed for a job in a competitor's ensemble were ultimately not considered for the open position.

  • Be flexible regarding your schedule – Forty-seven percent of hiring managers said they were turned off by a candidate who refused to work certain hours. Seasonal hours tend to fluctuate; you need to be open and flexible to alternative schedules.

  • Use specific keywords – To find the most relevant jobs, search online using the following terms: seasonal, holiday, part-time, temporary and Christmas.

Next: Top 10 Companies Hiring This Week >>

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