Make us your home page

Turning seasonal jobs into longer ones

Noel Medina delivers packages for UPS this fall in New York. The shipping giant says it could hire thousands who make it through the holiday season.

Associated Press

Noel Medina delivers packages for UPS this fall in New York. The shipping giant says it could hire thousands who make it through the holiday season.

As companies hire extra workers for the holidays, some of these seasonal employees are wondering: How do I turn this temporary position into something permanent? And, in this economy, can I? • Retailers who are typically big seasonal employers are suffering through a prolonged slump in consumer spending that has forced many to cut back staffing. Other employers such as the U.S. Postal Service have implemented hiring freezes. So, while these companies are employing temporary help, they don't expect to make many permanent offers. • Still, personnel consultants and company executives say there are plenty of opportunities for hard-working seasonal employees to stay on even after the new year. Shipping giant UPS Inc., for one, says it could hire thousands of workers who make it through the holiday season. • The first step in nabbing a job: Make it clear you're interested in the company, and looking for a permanent role. Most seasonal workers never get a chance at other jobs because they simply never ask, said Jeff Joerres, the CEO of staffing company Manpower. • But be tactful, and don't pester management. • More tips for making the transition from a temporary job to a full-time job:

Remember the basics

Even when a job is short-term, employees need to behave as they would in a full-time, permanent position. So, arrive on time, follow your schedule and don't request time off work unless it's absolutely necessary.

Seasonal workers do tend to get the less desirable shifts, such as late nights and weekends. But to make a good impression, just smile and keep working hard.

"In a temporary employee, that's the No. 1 thing employers look for: reliability and dependability," said Craig Rowley, vice president of the global retail sector for the Hay Group, a consulting firm.

Along with that, show that you're willing to be flexible. If managers ask you to work longer, do it.

Likewise, if they need someone to pick up an extra shift, be the first to volunteer.

Small gestures can go a long way in winning over employers, Joerres said.

"There's an amazing amount of people who show up for work and want to collect a paycheck and don't show that they want anything more than that," he said. "And I think that disappoints employers."

Auditioning for a job

A seasonal job, like an internship or temporary gig, is truly a multiweek job interview. Supervisors watch to see how well employees fit with the company, and they quickly judge how easily workers pick up on new tasks.

That's because many companies treat seasonal positions as "auditions to find some of their best people," said John A. Challenger, chief executive of consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

To stand out, look for ways to "wow" customers and demonstrate a mastery of the business.

At the high-end kitchen retailer Sur La Table, CEO Jack Schwefel says the best seasonal workers are the ones who are able to interact with customers on a personal basis while also explaining the key differences between products, such as a copper-bottomed pot vs. a steel one.

Sur La Table will hire about 2,000 seasonal workers this year to work in its stores and distribution warehouses, essentially doubling the size of the company's work force. Schwefel said up to 20 percent of those seasonal workers could eventually be offered either permanent part-time or full-time jobs.

Opportunities do exist

Many companies say they're still interested in hiring their temporary workers, even amid the recession.

UPS plans to hire about 50,000 seasonal workers this year. Some of those employees will work in the company's hubs, loading and unloading trucks, while others will be on the road with drivers going door-to-door to deliver packages. The jobs can be exhausting, given that the holidays represent the company's busiest time of the year.

But spokeswoman Karen Cole said employees who make it through peak season could be in a prime position to land a permanent job. The company hopes to hire about 20 to 30 percent of its temporary work force this year.

At the staffing firm Manpower, the company hires about 10,000 seasonal employees to work for distribution centers, credit card processing centers and other companies. About 40 percent of those workers could snag a permanent job, Joerres said.

That's certainly good news for people like Steve Brannigan. The 46-year-old was laid off from his job as a manufacturing engineer in the auto industry near Detroit about two years ago. He worked a couple of odd jobs, but couldn't find another full-time position.

So, he recently moved to Portland, Ore., to be closer to relatives, and is now working two seasonal jobs: one at an ice skating rink, and another in the bakery department of a Costco store.

He's hoping one of them will lead to a permanent position.

"I hope to find a job out here," he said, and "hopefully, a career."

Turning seasonal jobs into longer ones 11/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 28, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco doubles tourist tax to finance sports complex


    DADE CITY — Pasco County is doubling its tourist tax to 4 percent to build an indoor sports complex in Wesley Chapel and improve its outdoor boat ramps in west Pasco.

    Pasco County's plan to double its tourist tax on overnight accommodations to 4 percent is intended to help finance a $25 million sports complex in the Wiregrass Ranch area of Wesley Chapel. It  would include a 98,000-quare-foot multipurpose gymnaisium of eight basketball courts and dedicated space for gymnastics, cheerleading and a fitness center. Shown here is the four-court fieldhouse with 50,000-square-feet of space for competitions at  Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.  Times photo by James Borchuck (2007)
  2. USAA expansion at Crosstown Center may bring Hillsborough 1,000 more jobs


    BRANDON — USAA will bring as many as 1,000 more jobs to Hillsborough County in early 2019 with the expansion of its existing operations in Brandon.

    Stuart Parker, president and chief executive officer of USAA, speaks at the company's new Crosstown Center location in Brandon during a visit following its 2015 opening. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times, 2016]
  3. FHP bids for pay raise a week after disastrous publicity


    TALLAHASSEE — This is real bad timing.

    FHP license plate.
  4. Rhetoric over: Three-nation effort to revise NAFTA begin


    WASHINGTON — Of all the trade deals he lambasted on the campaign trail as threats to American workers, President Donald Trump reserved particular scorn for one: The North American Free Trade Agreement.

    Claudio Montes checks a shipping manifest for U.S. manufactured parts heading to assembly plants in Mexico at Freight Dispatch Service Agency LTD in Pharr, Texas, in June. The freight service ships parts between the U.S. and Mexico that pass through the border freely due to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Of all the trade deals he lambasted on the campaign trail as threats to American workers, President Donald Trump reserved particular scorn for one: NAFTA. [Nathan Lambrecht | The Monitor via AP]
  5. Rick Scott finds out today if he has backing on Venezuela

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Now Florida's Cabinet gets to weigh in on Venezuela.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott interacts with people as he holds a Venezuelan Freedom Rally at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10 in Miam. Governor Scott called on the Venezuelan government to free Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner from house arrest, as well as those that have been wrongly imprisoned by Nicolas Maduro's government.  [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]