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How to Get a Job for the Holiday Season

Many employers started hiring in October and early November, but it's not too late to apply for a seasonal job now.

Question: What is the outlook for holiday seasonal jobs this year, and what steps should I take to improve my chances of getting a seasonal job?

Answer: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and executive coaching consulting firm, expects retail employers to add about 740,000 seasonal workers in the last three months of 2016 – about the same number of seasonal jobs as last year. That figure is just for retailers; other types of employers, such as hospitality and shipping businesses, also tend to hire extra workers during the holidays.

Several companies have increased their seasonal hiring significantly over the past few years, including Amazon, which plans to hire 120,000 seasonal workers (a 140% increase from 2012); UPS, which plans to hire 95,000 seasonal workers (a 73% increase); and FedEx, which expects to hire 50,000 (a 150% increase), according to Challenger. Other retailers plan to continue with significant seasonal hiring, including 83,000 seasonal jobs at Macy’s, 77,000 at Walmart, 70,000 at Target, 69,000 at Kohl’s and 40,000 at J.C. Penney.

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Getting a seasonal job can be a great way to earn some extra money for the holidays or provide extra cash to help you boost your savings or get out of debt. You may also qualify for an employee discount or get your foot in the door for a new career. Some key moves can help you improve your odds of landing a seasonal job:

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Act now. Many employers started hiring in October and early November, but it’s not too late to apply for a seasonal job now. Some companies continue hiring in late November and early December, says Challenger CEO John A. Challenger.

Expand your search beyond retailers. Everyone thinks of retailers during the holidays, but many other types of businesses also need extra workers to help with the holiday rush, including hotels, restaurants, catering businesses, warehouse facilities, and transportation and shipping companies. Some businesses may need extra workers to help close out their books at the end of the year. And retailers usually have a lot more opportunities than just on the sales floor. Toys ”R” Us, for example, is hiring seasonal workers for sales, stock crew and cashiers at its stores, and it is also hiring warehouse workers, clerical specialists and others for its distribution centers.

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Search online and in person. You can do a lot of job hunting online, such as at Macy’s, Target, UPS, FedEx and Amazon. Toys ‘R’ Us has a link specifically for part-time holiday jobs. You can also search for seasonal jobs at CareerBuilder, Monster.com and Craigslist, or through temporary staffing agencies. Challenger also recommends visiting some businesses in person and asking about seasonal work, especially at smaller companies that may need some extra help but may not advertise seasonal jobs. It can help to visit stores where you shop regularly and already have a connection and know a lot about the business.

Be flexible. You’ll have the best chance of getting the job if you can work hours that can be tougher to fill – such as during weekends and evenings, which are busy times for retailers and hospitality, and overnight shifts for warehouses and transportation companies.

TAKE OUR QUIZ: Who Should You Tip for the Holidays?

Try again. Challenger says that with high turnover rates in retail, it doesn’t hurt to check back even if you didn’t get a job offer when you first applied.

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