Job seekers currently looking for their full-time dream job may find the road to success begins by landing one of the hundreds of thousands of seasonal jobs available this holiday season.
That's because many employers consider seasonal work an informal trial run of potential permanent hires, and the smartest seasonal workers will be prepared to make an impression. Since the hiring criteria for seasonal workers is often much less rigorous than for permanent hires, it gives more people a chance to get a foot in the door.
"Many people who can't get a full-time job say they just need to be able to show employers what they can do, but they can't get an interview or maybe they don't interview well," says Lisa Rangel, CEO of Chameleon Resumes and Job Landing Academy. "So, the seasonal job becomes a working interview."
That's an advantage for those who want more than just a short-term gig, she says.
"If you go in there with the right mindset — that you're going to do your very best — then companies are going to notice. They do not want to let good people go," says Rangel.
Also, keep in mind that not all seasonal jobs are in retail or are entry-level positions. Organizations often need additional help in other departments during certain times of the year.
Seasonal accountants, for example, are in demand during tax season, and retailers like Home Depot that deal with home improvements and gardening often hire additional customer service agents during spring and summer months. Taking on a seasonal gig may be the opening you need to impress on a company that you would be a valuable asset in the long run, she says.
If you want to impress an employer as a seasonal employee who is worthy of being hired full time, here are some things Rangel advises you to consider:
- Write a resume that shows your full skill set. Sure, you may be applying for a part-time role to supplement your income during the holidays, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't share your full professional history with employers. Writing a standout resume for a seasonal role can not only secure you a short-term gig, but it can help an employer picture you in a full-time role later on.
- Do the basic things right. Show up early. Stay late. Be collegiate to coworkers and the boss. Try to anticipate the needs of your boss, your colleagues and the clients.
- Respectfully contribute. When you're trying to prove yourself, it's not about tooting your own horn. It's about making others look good. If you're hired full-time, then you can go about making your own mark.
- Be genuine. "If you have the attitude of doing your best, of working that seasonal job like it's a permanent position, then that will really stand out," says Rangel.
- Show you can learn. Employers are always on the lookout for those who can be creative in solving problems or coming up with new solutions, or who "make something out of nothing," Rangel says. "If you can succeed at something new, then that's something employers look for," she says. Don't be afraid of learning new technology or taking on tasks you've never done before — tackling them will show your willingness to learn and grow in a job. Make a point in asking your boss what you can do to help and make suggestions to key staff members, says Rangel.
A seasonal job also offers other benefits. For example, everyone you meet — managers, colleagues and vendors — could prove to be vital contacts for your career. Just because you don't want to work full time in retail, for example, doesn't mean that a retail seasonal job can't provide you with contacts in an industry that will be a better fit for you.
"I've even had a situation where a company couldn't hire a temporary worker, but referred that person to a colleague at a different company," says Rangel. "You just never know where it can lead you."
At the same time, just gaining some experience in an industry through a seasonal job can open up new avenues to you, gaining you access to industry events or conferences. Or, it can help you expand your network and provide more contacts within a desired field, she says.
Still, it's important that when taking on a seasonal job that you are also "trying out" the company to see if it's a good fit. For example, observe the culture of the organization — does it seem too conservative for your free-wheeling nature, or vice versa? Do you hear constant complaints about management? Does there seem to be a revolving door of full-time talent — and is that because they are being offered new opportunities, or because they can't wait to leave?
Sites like Glassdoor can also provide some insight as current and former employees will rate an organization, often shedding light on both the good and the bad. Do workers complain about being stuck in a position with no chance for advancement? "Look at the negative reviews — are they complaining about things that matter to you? Every company is going to have negative stuff, but you need to decide whether it's a big deal or not," says Rangel.
Also, keep in mind that just because you get a seasonal job at an Amazon warehouse does not mean that it's a quick gateway to becoming a senior vice president at the company. It's more realistic to think in terms of how you can use such a job to launch a new career or gain experience if you're just starting out.
"The key is that if you want a permanent job with that employer, then treat it like that even if you're only hired for the season," says Rangel. "Show them you really have your heart in it."