Holiday jobs in short supply

Friday, November 20, 2009

Americans hoping to make extra money to pay bills or buy presents this holiday season better start looking for their holiday job now.

The number of jobs available will be less than last year -- and more people are expected to be vying for them -- according to a recent survey.

A survey of 1,000 American hiring managers who have responsibility for hiring hourly workers finds that each manager, on average, plans on hiring roughly 33 percent less than the seasonal workers they each hired during last year's holiday period. This figure includes the 57 percent of managers who say they don't plan on making any hires this year, which is up 8 percentage points from 2008.

Managers who plan to hire at least one hourly holiday worker say they are looking to bring on nine seasonal workers on average, down 20 percent from the 11.2 employees they report having hired last year.

In addition, four in 10 (39%) of hiring managers expect the number of applicants to rise this year over last, with about one half (52%) expecting the number to stay the same. Only nine percent expect fewer applicants.

Applicants have to be aggressive and use all the tools at their disposal to separate from the crowd, starting off by applying now. Job seekers will have to do their homework, be willing to work flexible hours and go in with a great attitude because that's what employers most desire.

In fact, the survey indicates that October-November is the time that most employers who are hiring this year will start the hiring process. Most managers said they expect to wrap up their hiring duties in November, and others hiring as late as December.

And what are managers who are responsible for hiring holiday workers looking for in an employee?

About a third (34%) agree the most important thing is "a positive attitude and eagerness to have a job." One quarter (25%) say previous experience in the industry, with the company, or at the specific the location is most important, while a similar number (24%) want a worker who demonstrates the ability to work a desired daily schedule. One in 10 (9%) say they most desire an employee's commitment to work the entire holiday season, and eight percent say that knowledge of and passion for the company is most important.

Of the nearly six in 10 managers (57%) who don't plan on hiring this year, the factors for that decision include an expectation that current staff will take on the additional hours or workload (50%), that they have no money to hire additional seasonal workers (29%) and that they expect a slower holiday season this year compared to last (21%).

For our retailers' sake, we hope they're wrong.