Technology has become so pervasive in our lives and we can be sure to see its effect in this year's seasonal hiring trends.
What is seasonal hiring?
Seasonal hiring is an opportune time of year for part time and temp to permanent jobs. It occurs when companies hire temporary staff members to accommodate busy seasons. Employers of retail and small businesses will usually increase in staffing demands during the months of October to January. 40% of consumers start their Christmas shopping as early as October and throughout the fall season. Holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Years day are also busy times for shopping. This year, the National Retail Federation projects that retailers will hire between 720,000 and 780,000 seasonal employees. According to the IPSOS Public Affairs for Snagajob, sales expectations are high, and therefore seasonal hiring will start earlier this year than it did last year.
The Influence of Technology
Though businesses are uncertain of sales expectations, they're preparing for a busy holiday season. Most predictable is a growth in ecommerce, or online shopping. Technology's influence on society and culture can be clearly noted in seasonal shopping trends. According to a recent ShopperTrak survey, in-store traffic is predicted to be slower this year than it was last year. However, this doesn't indicate low seasonal sales overall. Actually, the survey attributes this prediction of less time spent in stores to the reality that more shoppers are now spending more time researching the best deals online before going to stores. Consumers often find that, after purchasing a product for XX dollars from a certain retailer, they come home to find the item online for much less. Furthermore, many retailers offer shipping promotions where it would actually be cheaper to buy and ship the item online than to purchase and ship it yourself. Old Navy's $5 standard shipping rate and Wal-Mart's 97c (select items) shipping rate on select items are some examples of how retailers are actually promoting ecommerce. Increasingly, consumers prefer to shop from the convenience of their computers or smart phones.
Online shopping, especially Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is the online retail equivalent of Black Friday. The term was coined in 2005 by NRF's Shop.org division based on a clear consumer behavior in 2003 and 2004. Retailers report that many consumers, who were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or did not find what they were looking for, shopped online that Monday to find bargains, often from work. At that time, shoppers took advantage of the high-speed Internet connections available at work, when many had dial up modems or no Internet connection at home. According to Adobe's Digital Index, last year on Cyber Monday (November 26th), online shopping approached a record $2 billion for the first time. Cyber Monday is expected to net large sales in 2013.
Online Sales & Hiring
Here are a few of the businesses that are expecting an increase in online sales:
Amazon does expect a 24% boost in sales and will prepare by adding on 70,000 full-time seasonal jobs in the US. These are seasonal "Fulfillment Associate" positions that work in facilities to pick, pack, and ship customer orders. Qualifications are basic and reflect that these are entry-level jobs. There are facility locations all over the country, and many of these temporary assignments are also expected to lead to full-time careers.
Wal-Mart is also expecting a growth in online sales. Hence why they are opening two distribution centers (Fort Worth, TX and Bethlehem, PA) to also fulfill online orders. They recently announced that they plan to add 55,000 temporary seasonal jobs in US stores and facilities. These are typically 90 or 180-day assignments, and can be either full or part-time.
Macy's is hiring 83,000 workers for the holiday season. These are jobs located in stores and fulfillment centers all over the US. These include temporary positions in operations, customer service, and sales. Warehouse Associates are responsible for picking, packing, and shipping online orders. Customer service agents handle customer calls and emails, and can make $10-12 per hour. Most importantly, these are entry-level positions that are also flexible according to your schedule.
Distribution & Shipping Job Opportunities
The growth of online sales also generates more jobs opportunities in the shipping business. Last year, UPS hired an additional 55,000 seasonal workers to handle the large volume of holiday shipments, while FedEx hired 20,000. Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor already display job ads for seasonal drivers and package handlers in various US locations. According to Glassdoor, a package handler can make anywhere between $9-11 hourly and is typically an entry-level position. Shipping stores also tend to need workers in their facilities, stocking, sorting, and loading.
Technology stores also tend to increase in temporary hires during the holiday season since techno gadgets are a popular gift item. These are jobs that do require more familiarity with computer and smart phone technologies. Stay tuned with sites such as Verizon, Best Buy, and AT&T.
Tech Effect on Hiring
As retailers prepare to hire seasonal workers for the holidays, job seekers might notice the application process has gone more high tech. In-store kiosks and automated personality tests may be part of the process that retailer use to determine if you are a good fit for the job. Retailers receive such a large volume of applicants and the turnover rate is usually very high. Therefore, high tech hiring systems and big data allow for easier and faster identification of fit workers who will commit and do the job well.
Seasonal Jobs Tips
- Start applying now - Many stores interview and hire in October for the holiday season.
- Explore all hiring options - Look on-line, network with friends and family, and walk-in as many will accept applications and interview at the store.
- Dress for walk-ins - If you plan to go to the store to fill out an application, dress as if you were going on an interview. You might meet the hiring manager while you're there.
- Be flexible - If you are hired, be flexible and open to last minute requests. Offer to work off-hours, extra hours and be a team player. This will help you increase your visibility with your managers.
- Strive for a permanent position - Let your manager know you are interested in a full-time job if the opportunity arises.
Non-Retail Seasonal Jobs Tips
- Finance - Many firms staff up at the end of year (For example, accountants and bookkeepers for year-end work).
- Healthcare - Check the local hospitals as they might be staffing up for a possible holiday influx or back up for regular personnel who take vacations.
- Tech - If you have a technical background, consider technology retail stores but also look at the major firms who are hiring for IT, distribution, call centers etc.
- Food - If you have a catering business consider contacting caterers to help them with large parties. This can help your business grow and help expand your options.
- Other - Job categories for the holidays include pet sitters, home help, assistants, party planners, house sitting, etc.
The rapid pace of technology impacts society, work and even seasonal hiring. Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought speaker on career development. She is the author of ten books, a regular media contributor, and global speaker. She is a key advisor for recruiting and outplacement firms. Her most recent book is Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders. Tracey has served as a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Media X program, researching the impact of technology on future careers. Find Tracey on Twitter and Facebook.