The seasonal job market is shaping up to be more competitive this year.
The bulk of retailers say they expect to hire seasonal workers at the same level as last year, according to a recent survey by management consulting firm Hay Group, and 25 percent say they will hire fewer people to work during the holidays.
“Retailers have a tempered optimism about the holidays this year. Cost inflation has made profitability more elusive, and retailers are trimming the fat with staffing and store hours,” said Craig Rowley, a vice president with Hay Group.
Best Buy, for instance, announced Wednesday that it will hire 15,000 seasonal workers this year – about 14,000 fewer than in 2010, according to news reports. But there are some bright spots: Macy’s said this week that it will hire 78,000 temporary workers this year – a 4 percent increase over the previous year.
Check out our tips on how to score a job this holiday season:
1. Start NOW!
Retailers told Hay Group that they are already seeing an uptick in the number of applicants vying for seasonal work. If you hope to score a job for the holidays, get out there now and start applying. There’s no time to waste!
2. Cast a Wide Net
Increase your chances of getting a seasonal job by applying at many different places. Don’t just drop off a couple of applications at the local mall. Look at department stores, discounters, shipping and delivery companies. It’s simple: The more lines you have in the water, the more likely you are to catch a fish.
3. Have a Good Attitude
Chances are a temporary job at a big box store was never on your long-term career plan. But … here you are. Be happy that you got called in for an interview. Have a good attitude and be enthusiastic. Many seasonal positions include interacting with customers. Show off your people skills during the interview.
4. Clear Your Schedule
Score points with a prospective employer by being flexible with your work schedule. Offer to work nights, weekends … and the actual holidays. Willingness to work when needed will make you more attractive.
5. Follow Up
Keep track of when and where you applied. After a few days, circle back and check to see if they are still hiring and if they are interviewing candidates. Talk to a manger, if possible (but don’t be pushy about it). Also, follow up after an interview to make yourself stand out from the crowd.