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Tis the Season: 5 Tips For Holiday Retail Work

By Kate Lorenz,

Retail hiring managers are ramping up their staffs to maximize sales efforts for the upcoming busy holiday shuffle, which can last from early October through late January.

A recent survey found that 71 percent of retail hiring managers plan to hire new employees by the end of the year. This is good news for job seekers who are looking for a full-time position or interim work, students who need flexible work schedules and workers hoping to supplement their income.

Retail companies want employees who can sell their goods and provide great customer service. If you want a retail position, you need to sell the employer on why you are the superior product to get the job done.

For 63 percent of hiring managers, finding qualified candidates is their biggest recruitment challenge. Important factors include a candidate's experience, professional behavior exhibited during the selection process and cultural fit within the organization.

Retailers are looking for employees who are motivated, enthusiastic and have a good customer service attitude ? not just bodies to stand behind a counter. Pursuing a retail position ? even if it is a temporary holiday position ? should be done with the same professionalism and dedication as any other job search. Keep in mind these tips when shopping around for a seasonal gig:

1. Think Like a Salesperson. Be aggressive. Just like with any other job opening, persistence pays off, as does face time with the hiring manager. Don't simply fill out an application and drop it off at the front counter. Ask to speak to the manager first. Introduce yourself, let him or her know why you are interested in a position, and make sure your name is known. After your interview, be sure to follow up with a phone call or even stopping by the store. Retail managers are extremely busy at any time of the year, but their schedules get even more packed during the holidays. Tenacity can make all the difference.

2. Be Resourceful. Talk to your friends ? many stores will look to employee referrals to fill their open positions. Boost your visibility with CareerBuilder's skilled and hourly section. You can apply for jobs by indicating your work preferences, education and experience. And mention any previous experiences with the organization that prompted you to apply (i.e. you've been a faithful customer for five years and think highly of the company and its products).

3. Dress for Success. In any business, first impressions go a long way. Your image is important to retailers, particularly when you are trying to set yourself apart from the pack of others who are looking for similar holiday work. Dressing professionally, even if you are just going into the store to fill out an application, will make you stand out from the crowd. Never fill out an application or submit your resume dressed in casual attire, or worse yet, in ripped jeans and an old sweatshirt ? this sends the hiring manager the impression that you do not take the opportunity seriously.

4. Act Like a Pro. When you are looking for any job, it pays to be professional. This is just as true in retail. Carefully fill out your application to make sure you do not have spelling or grammatical errors. Show up early for your interview and be prepared. Alert your references to the applications you are submitting. These simple steps will also demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have respect for the company and will have respect for its customers.

5. Take the Job Seriously. If you are hired for a holiday retail position, be sure to give it your all and take it as seriously as you would any other opportunity. There are experiences to be gained from the retail environment that are extremely valuable to companies in a wide variety of industries. Qualities like customer service, effective time and stress management, teamwork and conflict resolution are all used extensively in the retail environment, and are qualities that recruiters in a wide range of businesses look for in candidates. Make the most of your retail experience and develop these qualities. They will almost certainly pay off in the future.

By following these tips, looking for opportunities early and presenting a professional image at all times, the holidays this year just might turn out to be a money maker for you, rather than a bank breaker.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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