Want Seasonal Holiday Work? Start Applying Now

holiday job

[credit provider=”Mike Licht via flickr” url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/5279573847/”]

Two new hiring forecasts paint a cloudy picture for seasonal jobs this holiday season.On one hand, outplacement firm Challenger, grey & Christmas says it expects retailers to hire about the same number of seasonal workers as last year, or even fewer. In 2010, retail added 627,000 jobs between October and December. (Hiring fell to a 26-year low in 2008, as retail employment grew by only 324,900 jobs.)

In a press release, CEO John Challenger said: “The retail environment has improved significantly since 2008, when the recession was at its worst. However, retailers are seeing several signs that consumer spending is dipping just as they are beginning to make decisions about how many workers to add for the upcoming holidays. This does not bode well for job seekers.” The Commerce Department recently reported that August’s retail sales were unchanged from a month earlier.

In another survey, Snagajob, a search site that focuses on hourly jobs, calls its holiday forecast the best it has seen in the last four seasons. More than half of managers (51 per cent) tasked with hiring seasonal workers for the holidays said they will be hiring this year, up from 43 per cent in 2008. Each manager surveyed expects to hire about four workers on average. But compared with figures reported before the recession in 2007 when managers planned to hire an average of 5.6 seasonal workers, projected hiring this year still falls short.

For job seekers, Challenger highlighted one company that already announced plans to hire seasonal workers. Toys “R” Us plans to hire about 45,000 temporary employees. On the other hand, Discount Shoe Warehouse plans to offer more hours to existing employees instead of hiring seasonal employees. For the best opportunities, Challenger points to big-box stores like Target and Wal-Mart. Job seekers should be prepared to be flexible, he adds. One hiring manager is quoted in the release as saying the biggest mistake applicants make is “demanding a specific schedule from prospective employers.”

Outside the retail industry, Snagajob points to other industries likely to hire seasonal workers, including shipping, craft stores, restaurants, movie theatres, and winter resorts, which should all begin staffing soon. Although it might seem premature to be thinking about holiday hiring, it pays to begin your job-search early. According to Snagajob, 18 per cent of managers who plan to hire began their search in August, while 27 per cent started in September and 33 per cent plan to begin in October.