If you hope to snag a seasonal job this holiday season, you may need to take a break from slathering on sunscreen and get serious about beginning your job search. Some employers have already begun hiring temporary seasonal job seekers, and experts are predicting that the competition for these roles might be fierce this year.
Andrew Challenger, vice president of media and business development at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, predicts that jobseekers may need to work a little harder than normal this year to land a seasonal role. Challenger, whose Chicago-based company provides outplacement and executive coaching services, tracks holiday hiring each year. This year, he predicts, seasonal jobseekers are facing different hurdles than in years past.
"We are seeing two major forces shaping hiring this season," he said. "The first is a very tight labor market and the second is a shift away from brick-and-mortar businesses to e-commerce."
His firm's research suggests that thanks to a boom in the economy, retailers expect to do well this holiday season, which usually means they'd hire extra holiday help. However, the landscape of seasonal hiring will be different this year, he predicts, thanks to the closures of many chain retail stories. With e-commerce becoming the name of the game for retailers, the big opportunities for seasonal workers will be behind the scenes, he said.
"If you are looking for something permanent, what will help you get hired is to be flexible with your time, being willing to show up when they need you, and doing it with a positive attitude," said Andrew Challenger. "These are the thinks that will make managers remember you when they are looking to hire."
"We have tracked tens of thousands of store closures in over the last few years, and so seasonal work in 2018 is going to look different than it has over the last 30 years," he said. "Rather than hiring for thousands of customer-facing roles as retailers have in the past, I think the focus this year will be in hiring for shipping, warehouse, and fulfillment center roles."
So, what must a seasonal jobseeker do to stay competitive this holiday season? We've compiled six tips to help you start your seasonal job search off on the right foot.
4 Tips for Kicking Off a Seasonal Work Search
- Start your search early. Online job boards like Indeed and Snagajob.com have loads of temporary and holiday roles for students. Using these resources makes it super easy to apply to multiple positions but time is not on your side. Since many employers have their seasonal hiring complete by the fall, you'll want to get your applications in sooner rather than later.
- Study the job ad closely. Job ads hold all the clues a jobseeker needs to succeed. The most competitive jobseekers study the job ad and customize their resumes for each job application. Look at the necessary qualifications in the job ad and make a list of those you possess. Then, take a few moments to personalize the skills sections of your resume to showcase your relevant skills – and don't forget to include them in your killer cover letter (see below).
- Learn to write a great resume. Whether you have little to no work experience, or you are an experienced worker looking to pick up some extra cash during the holidays, creating a resume that showcases your transferable skills is critical to getting a great seasonal job. Look online for information on the basics of how to write a resume. Or, use a professional resume builder to put together a resume quickly.
- Craft a killer cover letter. Seasonal jobs often don't require a cover letter, but experts agree that it's always a good idea to include one. While a well-written cover letter might not seem necessary to those applying for a retail role or a customer service job, employers disagree. Recruiters often use cover letters to distinguish between candidates with similar qualifications and backgrounds. In other words, writing a great cover letter can set you apart from a candidate whose writing is subpar.
Plus, since 45% of all jobseekers skip writing a cover letter altogether, crafting one puts you ahead of a big chunk of the competition. Just don't forget to highlight the skills that make you an excellent fit for the role.
Final Tips About Seasonal Work
Seasonal work can be tricky to land since these jobs fall during what most people consider the busiest time of year. Holiday roles can be stressful and often demand that you work night, weekends, or even on the holiday itself, so being upfront and honest about your availability when you apply for a role is critical to your success.
Remember, seasonal jobs may be temporary but they are jobs, nonetheless. While they look good on your resume, being a no-show on Christmas Eve or calling in sick on New Year's Day will burn bridges and hurt your chances of being considered next year.
Finally, take advantage of the opportunity these roles present. For recent graduates or others who are looking for permanent work, a seasonal job can be a terrific foot in the door to a full-time role. Challenger advises his clients to think of a seasonal job as an extended interview that can lead to a full-time offer down the line.
"If you are looking for something permanent, what will help you get hired is to be flexible with your time, being willing to show up when they need you, and doing it with a positive attitude," he said. "These are the thinks that will make managers remember you when they are looking to hire."