While the holidays do present challenges for job search, if you give your job search some thought, there are also opportunities with temporary positions. Eileen Habelow, Ph.D. Sr. VP of Organizational Development at Randstad, a global HR and staffing firm with expertise in the U.S. temporary employment market, has developed some strategies I would like to share, as well as expand upon. Anytime business conditions change, job seekers will do much better if they understand the effects of the change and how to find the opportunities. A change that we can expect every year is the holidays. For some businesses, things slow down. For others, that’s when they earn most of their income.
1. Review industry trends. Before responding to a holiday employment ad, take a moment to consider the industry and how it will be impacted by the post-holiday slowdown. Remember that the retail sales and package delivery sectors experience their greatest influx of business from November to the end of December, after which their staffing needs cut back drastically.*
a. Also, business increases for companies that support the influx of shopping and holiday activities. Some examples include grocery stores, entertainment, restaurants and warehouse operations. Do your homework. There are many businesses in need of extra workers right now.
2. Choose your company wisely. Are you taking a temporary position at a strictly seasonal business? If you’re looking for a job to last well beyond the holidays, it’s best to steer away from businesses that retain employees only during certain months of the year, such as costume shops, ski resorts or call centers.*
a. Depending on where you live in the US, there are increases in seasonally driven activities, not just holiday. If you have winter sports in your area, places like sport shops are ramping up for various snow related sports. Don’t forget the less obvious, like road maintenance, which may be beefed up as well.
3. Share your thoughts. Let your employer know that you’d like to stay on past the holidays. Many companies are used to hiring temporary workers just for the holidays, but with the economy looking up, they may need temps to stay on as business slowly comes back. Make sure your employer knows that you’re in the market for a permanent position.*
a. Once you get your foot in the door of a business, even for a temporary job, you now can learn what their business plans are for the year. Also, as an insider you can learn about other organizations in the company that may be a bigger opportunity for you in the long run. This type of information is priceless, but you have to do more than “just put in your time”. You have to educate yourself on their business and put your best foot forward so they will want you to stick around longer than originally planned.
4. Show off additional skills. Holiday temp roles often require less technical skill and training than permanent positions. Have a background in the industry? Know the ins-and-outs of their computer system? Find opportunities to highlight those skills or to offer yourself up as a resource in other departments.*
a. Just because you were hired to do a specific thing, doesn’t mean you can’t offer to help solve problems that you start unearthing. Showing initiative is a valuable asset in an employee. Keep in mind that as a temporary employee, it gives the employer first hand view of how well you work. Temp employees are a great source for businesses when selecting new hires. They get to know more than just what they learn from a resume – they get to “test drive you”. If you prove invaluable and can be used in an expanded role, they just might “keep you on”.
5. Keep the interview mentality. If your goal is a full-time position, consider temp work as your extended interview. Now is the time to prove that you are a quality employee.*
a. Interviewing is a two way street. You have an opportunity to check them out to see if they are a firm you would want to work for long term. Do they have a lot of turnover because it’s a tough environment? Do people love working there? Your temp assignment allows the assessment to continue the entire time you’re there for both you and the employer.
6. Network with upper management. Your temp position may come to an end in January, but the rest of the company will not. Introduce yourself to managers and supervisors, exchange contact information and let them know you’re interested in their business. When a permanent position opens up, it could be you who gets the job.*
a. When it’s almost time to go, ensure every decision maker and HR have a copy of your resume. Spend some time with the various hiring managers and let them get to know you. Let them know you are interested in working there – and be specific about what you can do (they will remember that). After you are gone, stay in regular contact so you stay on their mind when the next opening comes up. For the friends you’ve made, stay in contact with them and get information on when openings take place. You’ve now created a good situation, rich with information and opportunity.
*From Randstad and Eileen Habelow, Ph.D.