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Holiday hiring expected to be best since before recession

Part-time employee N’DeHill19 Chicago works “Holiday Lane” Monday Macy’s State Street store.  |  Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Part-time employee N’Dea Hill,19, of Chicago, works in “Holiday Lane” on Monday at Macy’s State Street store. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 17, 2012 6:20AM



If a holiday job is on your wish list, you could have more reason to smile this season. But don’t dawdle, advise experts, who say these jobs can be the ticket to permanent positions.

Two hiring outlook reports paint a brighter picture for holiday job seekers this year. The National Retail Federation forecasts seasonal hiring could reach its highest level in five years, and a survey of hiring managers released by Snagajob had similar results.

The National Retail Federation projects retailers will add up to 626,000 workers this holiday season. That would be a 3 percent increase from last year, when 607,500 people were hired, and a big improvement from 2008, when the country was mired in recession and only 263,800 seasonal workers were hired, according to the federation.

In the Snagajob survey, 63 percent of respondents said they will make holiday hires this year, up from 51 percent last year. That’s the highest level since the survey started five years ago. The survey included hiring managers for retail, restaurant, office/clerical, warehousing, transportation and customer service jobs.

Respondents said they expected to hire 6.1 seasonal workers on average, up nearly 50 percent from last year. Most of the positions will be filled this month. Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers responding to the survey said they would complete their hiring in October.

Among retailers planning to increase holiday hiring is Toys R Us, which is hiring 45,000 people nationally, up 13 percent increase from last year. Toys R Us also will be staffing 150 to 200 temporary pop-up stores.

Kohl’s has said it plans to boost holiday hiring by more than 10 percent, an average of roughly 41 associates at each of its 1,146 stores.

Macy’s plans to increase hiring about 2.5 percent to about 80,000, including 3,500 in the Chicago area. It’s accepting applications online and at kiosks in its stores, said Brad Poterack, district vice president of stores for Macy’s.

Target expects holiday hiring to fall this year. It hired more than 92,000 seasonal workers each of the last two years, and it plans to hire 80,000 to 90,000 this season. Last year, about 30 percent of those seasonal hires stayed with Target for year-round positions.

It’s not unusual for holiday hires to become permanent workers, Snagajob notes. In its survey, hiring managers said they expect half of their seasonal workers will be able to stay on after the holidays and take a permanent job. Macy’s couldn’t provide data on what percentage of holiday jobs become permanent positions, but Poterack said, “It absolutely is something that can happen. When we hire associates throughout the year, a lot of times we’ll go back to our former seasonal associates, and a lot of times during the holiday season we’ll have a year-round position open up, and we typically would look to promote someone who is already on board.”

Many of Macy’s staff started their careers with the company in seasonal positions, he added.

If you’re hoping a seasonal job evolves into a permanent one this year, you should ask the potential employer during the interview if that’s a possibility, Snagajob spokeswoman Courtney Moyer advises.

If the employer isn’t sure, “I wouldn’t let that deter you from taking that job,” Moyer said. “Go ahead. Take the job. Do a good job, and make sure your manager knows that you’re interested in keeping that job after the season is over. Don’t assume that they know that.”

With the unemployment rate still high, job seekers still face a competitive market, Moyer added.

“We tell job seekers to put in 10 to 15 applications,” she said. “It could take that many before they find something, but persistence is key. Patience is key, and getting out there early is key.”

Employers are looking for workers who are flexible and have a positive attitude, Moyer said.

“Make sure you pump those things up on your resume. If you’re willing to work nights and weekends, make sure you point that out. If you can demonstrate a positive attitude or a good teamwork mentality, that will help you get in the door as well.”

Job seekers should not limit their search to retail. Seasonal jobs also are available at shipping companies, craft stores, movie theaters, resorts, catering companies and tax-preparation businesses, experts note.



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