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Start looking now to land a holiday job

It's the beginning of October. Halloween candy is filling store shelves. That means it's time to get serious about seasonal jobs related to the end-of-the-year holidays.

Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa shoppers make or break the fiscal year for retailers, and according to early indicators there will be more seasonal jobs available this year than in the last two.

A survey of hiring managers by released recently found that half planned to hire temporary workers. That's up 3 percentage points from 2009 and up 7 percentage points from 2008.

Good news, but not great news yet. This year's seasonal hiring still is likely to lag the 2007 total. (The recent recession officially began in December 2007.)

But SnagAJob found another sign that 2010 looks better than the last two years. Retail hiring managers said they expect to bring on seasonal help earlier.

In fact, 47 percent said they already started hiring in September — an 11 percentage point increase from last year. That's what I meant about getting serious now.

"For job seekers out there, even with relatively more positions available, you still can expect fierce competition," said Shawn Boyer, SnagAJob's CEO. "If you have intentions of finding a holiday job, you cannot wait to apply."

Average hourly pay is expected to be $10.60, according to the survey, up from $10.40 last year.

What is going to help you stand out from the competition?

• Apply in person if you can, presenting a friendly, positive, can-do attitude.

• Have previous experience in the industry.

• Be flexible about the shifts you're willing to work.

• Commit to the entire holiday season, including the post-Christmas rush.

• Show a passion, knowledge or loyalty to the company or products.

Retail jobs not your bag?

Other seasonal job possibilities include shipping companies, photo studios, restaurants, catering companies and even tax preparers. April isn't all that far away.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.

Start looking now to land a holiday job 10/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 4:30am]
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