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How to Get an Extra Job for the Holidays

Use these strategies to improve your chances of getting seasonal work.

I’d like to get an extra job this holiday season to earn some extra money. Are many companies hiring seasonal workers this year? If so, what can I do to get hired?

The holiday season is always a great time to get an extra job and pick up some money to pay holiday expenses or get out of debt – or get your foot in the door if you’re looking for a new career. This year’s market for seasonal jobs is better than it has been in the past few years. A recent survey by CareerBuilder.com found that 36% of employers are planning to hire extra employees around the holidays, up from 29% in 2011. And the pay is better this year: 62% of the employers plan to pay holiday staff $10 or more per hour (up from 53% last year), and 22% plan to pay $16 or more (up from 14% last year).

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Retail is the category that comes to mind first when people think of seasonal jobs, but you’ll find plenty of opportunities beyond the check-out counter, including within the retail category. The CareerBuilder survey found that about a quarter of seasonal jobs are in customer service, 15% are in administrative/clerical support, 15% in hospitality (restaurants, hotels and catering firms are busy during the holidays), 14% in shipping and delivery, 9% in accounting and finance (companies need help with their year-end books at this time of year, too), 8% in inventory management (keeping track of what’s available in the warehouse), 8% in technology and 7% in non-retail sales.

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Fedex and UPS are well-known for their seasonal hiring. Fedex plans to hire nearly 20,000 seasonal workers -- and increase the hours of current employees -- to help with the holiday rush. It will be hiring package handlers, parcel assistants, drivers for pickup and delivery, and drivers for longer hauls.

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Even with the improved hiring outlook, you’ll have the best shot for seasonal work if you follow these strategies.

Look beyond sales. Retailers may also need extra workers in shipping facilities and overnight stocking positions, says John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Toys “R” Us, for example, plans to hire 45,000 seasonal employees this year, up from 40,000 in 2011. The company is looking for sales associates and even some managers in stores and is also hiring seasonal employees to work in distribution centers. People who have strong organizational skills and are attentive to detail can be a good match to work in inventory replenishment, says spokeswoman Jennifer Albano.

Show your enthusiasm. You’re more likely to get hired if you agree to work nights, weekends, holidays or even overnight (especially at manufacturers, shipping companies and distribution centers). And focus on the job during the interview rather than on any employee discounts. More than one-fifth of the employers surveyed by CareerBuilder were turned off by applicants who seemed more interested in the discount than anything else.

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Act quickly; be persistent. Most seasonal hiring is done in late October and November, but if the employer has no openings when you first apply, check back in a few weeks. The retail industry has high turnover rates, and you could snag a job if if you check back with the employer right after someone quits, says Challenger.

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Job-hunt online. Go to companies’ Web sites, such as the Toys “R” Us career site, Fedex.com/careers, MacysJobs.com (Macy’s also holds holiday job fairs at some stores) and UPSjobs.com. Also look for seasonal jobs at job-search sites, such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com, and check with local temp agencies and CraigsList. You can find local staffing agencies through the National Association of Personnel Services or the American Staffing Association.

Generate your own leads. Challenger also recommends finding a time when business is slow and introducing yourself to a manager or assistant manager in stores where you like to shop and asking about seasonal jobs, and contacting friends who work in businesses that may need seasonal workers.

A seasonal job can be a great way to land a full-time position. Nearly 40% of the employers who are hiring seasonal help plan to keep some of the employees on as full-time permanent staff after the holidays, up from 30% last year, according to the CareerBuilder survey. More than one-third of the package handlers hired for seasonal work at FedEx Ground facilities last year stayed with the company after the holiday season, and Toys “R” Us, for example, kept on 15% of its holiday workers as full-time employees after the season ended.

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