With gift lists that keep expanding and budgets that don't, is it any wonder workers are taking on seasonal jobs? Such jobs bring extra cash, generous employee discounts and even a chance for a long-term career.
That is, if you can manage harried--and sometimes unruly--customers.
Last year, retail employers hired 629,000 seasonal workers, about 20 percent more than the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation. The average hourly wage for non-supervisory retail employees, including benefits, is $15.47, according to the federation.
Retailers aren't the only ones hiring. You could be a mall gift-wrapper, a Santa, or his helper.
United Parcel Service of America Inc., for instance, plans to hire 40,000 to 60,000 temporary workers across the country. UPS requires no experience for the entry-level position, which pays $10.50 an hour.
"We train them in how to deliver the packages," said Harry Brown, a hiring supervisor at UPS' Hunt Valley, Md., office.But before rushing to the nearest mall to pick up a job application, there are a few things to consider.
For starters, be prepared to give up your nights and weekends. Employers are looking for prospective seasonal workers with the most flexible schedules, said Shawn Boyer, chief executive of SnagAJob.com, a job posting site that specializes in hourly positions.
Experience is a plus for some positions, such as in sales at high-end department stores. But it's not always required, Boyer said, especially for such jobs as merchandise stocking.
Sometimes, having the right attitude and tolerance for frenzied customers is equally important, especially in the retail environment, Boyer said. Employers will "ask people about their energy level, about their love of interacting with people and the ability to stand up on their feet for a long period of time," he said.
Take into account your interests, whether in clothes, electronics or toys, when looking for a seasonal position. And consider retailers whose employee discounts will come in handy when buying presents.
Borders Group Inc., which operates Borders and Waldenbooks stores, offers a 33 percent employee discount, for example.
The company expects to hire about 5,000 temporary workers nationwide, said spokeswoman Anne Roman. A majority of these hires will work at the company's Day by Day calendar outlets, which are set up at mall kiosks and temporary stores.
For some workers, a seasonal job is a way to get inside the company permanently.
Brown, the hiring supervisor at UPS, says he hires up to 70 percent of seasonal workers as part-time employees, who then often work up to full-time status. Brown notes that part-time workers receive full benefits.
Dale Bolt, 38, of Upperco, Md., started his UPS career as a seasonal worker last year. He sought the temporary gig in hopes of becoming a full-time driver.
Now, Bolt expects to get his own seasonal worker to help deliver packages on his route in Carroll County, Md."My season is well started now--I'm delivering 120 packages to up to 200 plus," he said.
Hanah Cho is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, a Tribune Co. newspaper.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times