Career Center Blog

October 15, 2013

How to stand out as a seasonal hire in Seattle


We've barely gotten beyond Columbus Day -- most of us haven't even thought of a decent Halloween costume yet -- but the holiday shopping season is already in full swing. Well, it is if you're a retailer and looking to ramp up your hiring for the Christmas shopping surge.

Nationally, some economists are predicting a dip in holiday retail spending, which often translates into fewer hires. Employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says national retailers are expected to hire about 700,000 temporary workers between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 this year, a 7.4 percent drop from last year's total of 751,800 seasonal hires (a 12-year high).

The Seattle area, however, continues to be a relatively strong market for this upcoming holiday season, as it has been for much of the Great Recession. According to the latest forecasts from the state Employment Security Department, retailers in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett cluster of cities are expected to add more than 9,800 seasonal jobs this year, which would be about a 12 percent increase from the 8,771 hires reported in 2012., as usual, is predicted to lead the local hiring binge. The online retailer says it plans to hire about 70,000 workers across the country this season, a 40 percent increase over the 50,000 temporary hires reported last year. Amazon should also add a few hundred jobs in the Puget Sound region. A search of "Amazon" and "seasonal" on last weekend showed more than 100 positions open in Seattle alone.

If you're looking for seasonal work this year, the following tips from the economists at Challenger, Gray & Christmas will help you stand out in the eyes of hiring managers:

  • Start with your friends. Many seasonal jobs are filled through recommendations from current employees. If you have friends who are working at retail outlets, ask them to put in a good word for you.

  • Don't limit yourself to sales positions. Not every job during the holidays will be an "on the floor" retail position. Big-box stores such as Target, Best Buy and Costco also bulk up staff in their warehouse, overnight stocking and shipping operations. Last year, FedEx and UPS added 20,000 and 55,000 seasonal positions nationwide, respectively. Caterers, restaurants and movie theaters also tend to take on seasonal help.

  • Be flexible. Never expect that you can choose the hours and days you will be available. Schedules often get volatile as the Christmas rush gets closer. Those who are willing to work odd hours during both weekends and weekdays will gain an edge.

  • Be persistent. Most seasonal hires are made in October, but even if you strike out this month, keep your eyes open. The retail industry has one of the highest turnover rates in the nation, so you may still find seasonal work in November and December during the typical staff churn.

  • Look where you shop. If there are any stores at which you frequently shop, visit them when business is slower than normal and strike up a conversation with the manager or assistant manager. Mention how much you like being a customer and express your interest in any seasonal work that might be available. "The key is separating oneself from the pile of applicants the store will see between now and Halloween," says Challenger Gray.

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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