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Greeno: Surge in seasonal staffing opens full-time opportunities

Published: Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

As the summer months come to a close, businesses are getting ready to hire seasonal workers in anticipation of holiday sales. Between the months of October and December, retailers and other industries – including customer service, hospitality, clerical, manufacturing, shipping and e-commerce – typically hire seasonal workers to help meet the increase in demand traditionally seen the last quarter of the year.

In 2011, the U.S. saw a net gain in seasonal hiring of 718,500, a 14.5 percent increase from 2010, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Last year’s numbers were a mere 2,300 workers shy of 2007 pre-recession levels.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, despite economic uncertainty and rising gas prices, retailers boasted a 6 percent increase in sales for the month of August – the industry’s strongest performance since stores collectively posted a 6.8 percent sales gain in March. This increase in sales could be a sign of things to come as people begin shopping for the holidays.

Businesses like retail shops typically increase staff by 5 percent during the holiday season, while others add up to 50 percent more workers, providing jobseekers an opportunity to get their foot in the door, which could lead to full-time employment for some. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 30 percent of employers plan on transitioning some seasonal staff to full-time employees. Seasonal hiring also gives jobseekers an opportunity to add to their work history as well as make connections and network with others.

Along with a boost in sales, the holiday season also brings added stress to employers. Managers have to handle higher demand in products and services and their employees' holiday schedules. To help alleviate that added stress, companies look for contingent workers who demonstrate positive and cheerful attitudes, flexible work histories and the ability to learn job duties quickly. Jobseekers who can remain calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season will separate themselves from the other workers trying to find work in this economy.

One of the most efficient ways to find seasonal jobs is through staffing agencies. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, 21 percent of temporary work is used for seasonal staffing while 28 percent is used due to absences of full-time employees. Businesses like Express Employment Professionals are filling positions across all aspects of work through the holiday season and can also be instrumental in helping jobseekers find employment.

Workers who find seasonal employment may be good candidates for full-time employment by demonstrating initiative, showing up to work on time and being friendly. These simple traits can help workers establish a reputation of being willing to go above and beyond to meet deadlines, be reliable and fit into the company’s culture.

Another way jobseekers can stand out is to offer to take on more tasks or seek training or advice from full-time staff. The end of the year is typically a hectic time at a company. There are always plenty of things to get done and not enough workers to complete them. When temporary help asks their hiring manager if there is more work that needs to be done and offers to work hard to complete it, it shows a strong work ethic, diligence and an overall sense of teamwork.

Seasonal employment is becoming a great way for jobseekers to find work. And with the high expectations of this holiday season, the chances for more workers making that transition look bright.

• Terri Greeno owns Express Employment Professionals in Crystal Lake.

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