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Some Seasonal Hiring May Increase

By Yaffa Klugerman
November 10, 2009

While demand for seasonal workers is expected to be less than usual as a result of the recession, some retailers expect to slightly increase the number of seasonal workers hired.

New York Newsday reports that Chicago-placed outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas predicted only a slight increase in seasonal retail hiring compared to last year. Additionally, the Hay Group consulting firm found that 57 percent of retailers expected to reduce staffing for the holiday season.

"We know we're going to be hiring less," said Kyle Thompson, spokesman for Target, who was interviewed by Newsday. The retail store is planning to offer cross-training for current employees across departments, thereby reducing new hires.

But the news is not all bad. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to Maryam Morse, national retail practice leader for Hay Group, retailers could possibly hire more if sales continue to rise. Some retailers that expect to add the same number of seasonal employees as last year or more include Macy's, Michael's Stores, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us and Zappos.com.

Steve Mullins, a recruiter for Michael's Stores--an arts and crafts retailer which plans to hire about 10,000 seasonal workers this year--noted that being able to work flexible hours can improve one's chances of landing a position. "The more availability you have," he told the Journal, "the better your chances of getting hired and getting more hours."

Mullins also said that being familiar with an employer's products or services and e-mailing a thank-you note can help a job candidate stand out. Seasonal workers with related experience may also be eventually considered for permanent jobs; about 10 percent of Michael's Stores seasonal hires are recruited into staff positions.

But with unemployment at an all-time high, competition for seasonal jobs is expected to be fierce. The Herald News in Fall River, Massachusetts, reports that many unemployed and overqualified people are applying for seasonal positions in companies such as UPS and Fedex.

"Many of these companies are getting inundated with applications and at a two-hour hiring session this week, more than 20 people showed up," said Marilyn Offer, Fall River Career Center senior employment specialist, who was quoted in the Herald News. "Sure, many of them are overqualified for these jobs, but in the case of UPS, they don't believe in the word 'overqualified.' They just hire the best fit for the job."

She told the Herald News that many of the people are applying for jobs "that a few years ago they would never have done. For many, they've been out of work too long or their unemployment is running out or they don't know if they're going to get an extension. For others, their wives have lost their jobs and they are looking for second jobs."

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