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Holiday Jobs: Gifts for Getting Ahead

Holiday Jobs: Gifts for Getting Ahead

By Margaret Steen

Whether you're looking for extra cash or career-enhancing skills, a part-time job during the holidays may be just what you need. 

In 2012, retailers are expected to hire 585,000 to 625,000 seasonal workers, according to the National Retail Federation. If you want to land one of these seasonal jobs, experts offer these tips: 

Look Beyond Retail

Most holiday jobs are with retail stores, selling gifts. But caterers get increased business for holiday parties, and engineering and law firms have to cover workers' vacations. UPS hires tens of thousands of seasonal workers to deliver millions of packages daily from Thanksgiving to Christmas. These workers do everything from processing packages to driving trucks, said Heather Robinson, a spokesperson for UPS.

For students home for the holidays, taking a temporary job in an office could be "an opportunity to get their foot in the door and give them a taste of corporate America," said Deborah DeCamp, regional director for Manpower Professional in Chicago.

Start Early

Large companies may start taking applications for seasonal work as early as September, with many interviewing and selecting candidates in October, says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Smaller companies may hold off a little longer. For UPS, hiring picks up in October and early November, Robinson said.

Do Your Research

Retailers want to hire people who know their merchandise and are enthusiastic about it. So it makes sense to start your job search with stores where you shop. "If you're a good customer, make sure you tell them that," Challenger says. Reading about local companies and industries can help you pinpoint other places to look for holiday work as well. If you read that a company is growing, you can call and ask if they need any extra help.

Take It Personally

The Internet is a great way to find out who's hiring and in many cases to submit a resume. But personal contact with a hiring manager may be what seals the deal.

"What makes you stand out?" DeCamp said. A phone call after you've submitted your resume is one good idea: "showing some tenacity, a little bit of proactive attention toward that job."

Look to the Future

Most holiday jobs end after the holidays. But some can last longer -- and they can also be a valuable introduction to a company that may hire you for an ongoing job sometime in the future. Robinson said about 25 percent of seasonal workers at UPS end up being hired into permanent jobs. So when you choose where to work for the holidays -- and while you're on the job -- think about your future prospects as well as the present.

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