December 13, 2009
Sticking around: How to turn a temporary holiday job into a permanent position
As companies hire extra workers for the holidays, some seasonal employees are wondering: How do I turn this temporary position into something permanent? And, in this economy, can I?
Retailers that are typically big seasonal employers are suffering through a prolonged slump in consumer spending, which has forced many to cut back staffing. Other employers, such as the U.S. Postal Service, have implemented hiring freezes. So while these companies are employing temporary help, they don’t expect to make many permanent offers.
Still, personnel consultants and company executives say there are plenty of opportunities for hard-working seasonal employees to stay on even after the New Year. Shipping giant UPS, for one, says it could eventually hire thousands of workers who make it through the frenetic holiday season.
The first step in nabbing a job: Make it clear that you’re interested in the company and looking for a permanent role. Most seasonal workers never get a chance at other jobs because they simply never ask, says Jeff Joerres, the CEO of staffing company Manpower. Be tactful, and don’t pester management. “Make yourself available for additional opportunities,” he says, “but don’t overextend yourself.”
More tips for making the transition from temporary help to full-time employee:
Remember the basics
Even when a job is short-term, employees need to behave as they would in a full-time, permanent position. Arrive on time, follow your schedule and don’t request time off work unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“In a temporary employee, that’s the No. 1 thing employers look for: reliability and dependability,” says Craig Rowley, vice president of the global retail sector for the Hay Group, a consulting firm.
Along with that, show that you’re willing to be flexible. If managers ask you to work longer, do it. Likewise, if they need someone to pick up an extra shift, be the first to volunteer.
Audition for the job
A seasonal job, like an internship or temporary gig, is truly a multiweek job interview. Supervisors watch to see how well employees fit with the company, and they quickly judge how easily workers pick up on new tasks.
To stand out, look for ways to “wow” customers and demonstrate a mastery of the business.
At high-end kitchen retailer Sur La Table, CEO Jack Schwefel says the best seasonal workers are the ones who are able to interact with customers on a personal basis while also explaining the key differences between products, such as a copper-bottom pot versus a steel one.
Seek out opportunities
Companies across a variety of industries say they’re still interested in hiring their temporary workers, even amid the recession.
UPS had planned to hire about 50,000 seasonal workers this year. Some of those employees will work in the company’s hubs, loading and unloading trucks, while others will be on the road with drivers going door-to-door to deliver packages.
The jobs can be exhausting, given that the holidays represent the company’s busiest time of the year.
Spokeswoman Karen Cole says employees who make it through peak season could be in a prime position to land a permanent job, initially on a part-time basis. The company hopes to hire from 20 percent to 30 percent of its temporary work force this year.
Manpower hires about 10,000 seasonal employees to work for distribution centers, credit card processing facilities and other companies during the holidays. About 40 percent of those workers could eventually snag a permanent job, Joerres says.
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