As retailers ramp up seasonal hiring, opportunities abound
Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog
Each holiday season, retailers scramble to find workers who can help hoards of shoppers find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Stores like Macy’s, Toys R Us and Lowe’shave already begun the search for employees, posting almost 500 seasonal positions in Wayne County in the last month alone. What opportunities do these kinds of positions present Detroiters? And what do they need to do to make the most out of their temporary employment this holiday season?
The retail industry is making a comeback in this area in a big way — above and beyond the holidays. Employment in the Detroit retail and hospitality industry has increased by more than 8 percent (compared with the national average of 3 percent) in the past few years and is showing no signs of slowing down. Seasonal positions are the perfect opportunity to get a foot in the door in an industry that can offer employment stability, living wages and plenty of transferable customer service skills to entry-level workers requiring little to no prior experience.
According to an annual Careerbuilder survey, 39 percent of retail hiring managers plan to hire seasonal workers, up from 36 percent in 2012. Of those hiring seasonal workers, almost half stated their intentions to transition some workers into more permanent positions. Target Corp. hired almost 30 percent of its temporary workers at the end of 2011, and Toys R Us held on to almost 15 percent.
Although most of us think of seasonal retail employees as the salesperson, cashier or greeter in the brick-and-mortar location, seasonal retail positions extend beyond the store to the shipping and distribution centers, where employees are working hard to ensure the shelves stay stocked so shoppers do not find themselves in a standoff over the last Tickle Me Elmo® in the tri-state area. Retailers are hiring for positions in customer service, inventory management, delivery workers, marketing and finance, so openings are varied and often offer more than the minimum wage.
Getting a holiday position does not mean that workers can slack off even if they have been told there will not be opportunities for permanent employment. In fact, workers who view the holiday season as an extended interview process, an audition, of sorts, are often the ones who stick around when all is said and done. Job seekers interested in a permanent position should say so right off the bat to differentiate themselves from other candidates. They also should work to get noticed throughout their time with the company.
According to the employers surveyed for Careerbuilder, simple things such as not mentioning the employee discount (a turn-off for hiring managers), not dressing in a competitor’s clothing or merchandise and knowing even the basics of company products (do a 10-second Google search) are the things that make the difference in the busy holiday season.
Even if a job seeker does not want to work in this position long-term, a seasonal position can be a true training ground to learn new skills and gain experience, while lining pockets with a little extra green for the holidays. Really earning that paycheck by stepping up to offer your ideas and assistance on additional projects are good ways to squeeze a reference out of this experience. Plus, going the extra mile could mean becoming a prospect for better positions with higher pay with great future potential.
Note: This blog post was compiled with research and support from Sarah Sebaly, project manager – Strategic Pathways, for the Workforce Intelligence Network.