The holidays are always a great time to earn extra money with a seasonal job. This year, seasonal workers are in particularly high demand and employers are already gearing up to compete with one another for talent.
With unemployment in the U.S. reaching a historic low of 3.5% in September, it’s a seasonal worker’s market. Job seekers should not only have their pick of job opportunities but big name employers are also raising the stakes by offering better pay, discounts, and perks.
So as the autumn leaves start to fall, and the most expensive—er, wonderful—time of year just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking about securing a seasonal job.
Benefits of taking on a seasonal job
Whether you want to supplement income from a full-time job, or you just need extra money for gifts, a seasonal job can definitely help put more green in your wallet.
But beyond providing much-needed extra income during the holiday season, seasonal jobs offer far more benefits that you may have overlooked. Here are six reasons why a seasonal job might be a good idea:
Learn a ton in just a few weeks
Though holiday jobs can start anytime in October, November or December, most are over sometime in January, making for a great way to test the skills you already have, as well as pick up some new ones to use in your next job search or current role.
Get your foot in the door
Perhaps the extra money isn’t your biggest objective. If you know of a company that you really respect, a seasonal job could be a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and could turn into part-time or full-time work after the holidays. You can’t assume you’ll get hired on full-time, but there’s always a chance you might. Over the last three years, 35% of the people UPS hired for seasonal package handler jobs were later hired in a permanent position when the holidays were over, and nearly a third of their current U.S. workforce started in seasonal positions.
Test drive a new job
Moonlighting during the holidays can also serve as a way to experiment and see whether you like a new area of work. Whether you end up loving or hating it, your pockets will be fuller either way.
Get a reference for your next job search
When the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, ask your boss if he or she would provide a review on your Moonlighting professional profile, and be a reference for you when it comes time to search for your next job.
Fill a gap on your resume
If you’re facing a period of unemployment, a seasonal job can be far easier to explain to prospective employers than a gap in your work history. If you can take a seasonal job—even if it’s not directly related to your industry—there’s always a way to spin it as a learning experience and talk about what skills you developed over that time. Even if that’s not the case, it presents you as a person who is not content to just sit around.
You can build new skills
Taking on work that is different from your day job can offer a mental break. But if you can find a seasonal position that builds skills required for your current or prospective job, then you’ve just found a win-win! You can’t beat earning extra money and preparation for the next step in your career.
Develop your seasonal job search strategy
You know you want to get a seasonal job, now you just need to know when, how, and where to find them. Here are eight tips for building a seasonal job search strategy.
Seasonal hiring typically begins in September. In fact, many employers know months in advance how many people they’ll need to hire for the holidays. For example, Kohl’s announced their hiring plans back in July. That means if your haven’t started looking yet, you should probably start today.
Look beyond retail
People tend to associate seasonal work with retail positions, standing at a cash register and restocking shelves. And it’s true that the bulk of seasonal hiring will be in this sector. For example, Target plans to hire more than 130,000 seasonal workers, Macy’s expects to hire 80,000 and Kohl’s plans to hire 25,000 workers. But many of these jobs are actually in the company’s call centers, distribution centers and positions rather than the actual stores.
FedEx and UPS will also be adding to their workforces to handle an increase in shipments over the holiday season. The hospitality sector including restaurants and hotels shouldn’t be overlooked as they will need additional staffing for their boost in business during the holidays. Other popular positions companies will be recruiting for this holiday season include administrative, accounting, and marketing.
If you’re dropping by a business to shop for seasonal work, be prepared to fill out an application and participate in an impromptu interview on the spot. Show up dressed for an interview, bring your own pen, necessary documentation, a resume, and all the contact information for your professional references. Be sure you block off enough time to meet with a few supervisors should the opportunity arise.
Know what you want
If you’re applying for seasonal work, know precisely what you offer to a potential employer—and what you want in return. Determine what hourly rate is acceptable to you, what hours and days you’re available, if you have the qualifications for a particular position, and if the location is viable for your transportation costs and options.
The best way to stand out from other seasonal talent is to present yourself as flexible—but only if you really are. Most companies hiring seasonal employees are looking for people who can work hours when their full-time staff cannot. Working a flexible schedule that includes nights or weekends, offering the ability to fill multiple roles, multitask, handle different duties, and quickly switch gears can make you an invaluable asset for beating the holiday frenzy no matter what industry you’re working in.
Don’t focus on the company’s employee discount
Even if you’re primarily interested in a job with a particular company because it offers an employee discount, don’t announce this to the hiring manager. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but CareerBuilder found that 39% of employers are turned off by candidates who seem more interested in the discount than the job opportunity.
Work your connections
If you have connections within that company, use them. Referencing someone who succeeded at that same institution will almost always boost your chances of an interview.
Even if a hiring manager tells you that all positions are filled, check back in a few weeks to see if the business has any new openings. Some companies will find that they need to hire more workers once the holiday season gets into full swing. Just don’t be a pest, send one or two emails at most.
Where to find seasonal jobs
While large retailers do a great deal of hiring and are highly visible, they certainly are not the only employers with seasonal jobs available. So, how do you find those other seasonal jobs?
Start your search online
Job boards are the best place to start your search. A job site like Moonlighting offers a unique and robust database of job opportunities specific to freelancers, independent workers, and those searching for part-time, seasonal, and gig-type work.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can also aid in your online search and allow you to reach out to friends and family so they know you’re looking for work.
Visit your favorite company
If you have an employer that you’re particularly interested in working for, scout out the company to see if they’ve listed openings for seasonal positions and apply directly. Most large employers, and many smaller ones will have an employment section on the company’s website and will accept online applications directly on the site.
No online application? Don’t be afraid to visit businesses in person to see if they’re hiring. Just be sure to stop in during off-peak hours of operation.
Now get to work
It is a great year for people to take a look at seasonal jobs—there’s never been a better time to make extra money and companies are already hiring. And if you start your seasonal job search now, you’ll have plenty of time to make enough money to offset the holiday spending to come.