1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Woman at computer
Think you have what it takes to be one of Santa's little helpers?
updated 11/9/2010 7:43:46 AM ET 2010-11-09T12:43:46

As severance checks peter out, unemployment benefits come to an end and job searches drag on, many Americans will want to consider going for that staple of seasonal employment, the Christmas holiday job.

Forbes.com slideshow: How to get a holiday job

    1. Use the holidays to find a job
    2. When a close friend becomes a workmate
    3. When you need a completely new career
    4. The most outlandish resume mistakes ever
    5. The shortest route to a new job

"It seems as though retailers are looking at a better season this year," says John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm that tracks job-cut and hiring announcements. Last year, when the recession was hitting hard, employment in retail jobs increased 47,800 in October, 318,900 in November and 134,700 in December, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Story: Who's hiring the most this holiday season

This year United Parcel Service, the Atlanta-based package delivery giant, is hiring 50,000 temporary workers through the end of December. The jobs pay $8 to $20 an hour, says spokeswoman Karen Cole. Many of them are for what UPS calls "driver helper," a worker who rides along in the brown delivery truck and helps unload and deliver packages. Cole says holiday jobs can lead to full-time employment at UPS. "Treat the seasonal position as an audition," she says. "If you do a great job, it can lead to a more permanent position."

Wal-Mart also confirms that it's adding holiday help to its gargantuan staff of 1.4 million employees, though spokeswoman Ashley Hardie won't say how many. "Our hiring decisions are made at the local level on a store-by-store basis," she says. People seeking employment can visit any store's hiring kiosk. Hardie A says that seasonal work at Wal-Mart can lead to full-time positions. The salary range is modest, however.

At Indeed.com, the job website aggregator, listings have spiked in the categories that cover seasonal work. Search for "Christmas" and 18,207 jobs come up. To be sure, most of them aren't glamorous or high paying. Among the listings: Christmas light installer, dog sitter for Christmas vacation and Christmas decorator.

How do you best present yourself for a holiday job? Karen Cole at UPS says her company looks for enthusiastic applicants who demonstrate that they are reliable and punctual. "It's critical that you be on time," she says.

Many holiday jobs don't require a particular skill, so employers keep a lookout for reliable, punctual, flexible workers who will step up to a task, no matter how demanding and no matter how long the hours. In fact, overtime is often available in holiday work, which can bump up a paycheck.

Mike Steinmetz, a vice president at the staffing firm Manpower, suggests that workers reflect on their past experiences and enthusiasms and apply those to seasonal work. A wine hobbyist might check to see whether the local wine shop needs an extra clerk to handle holiday traffic, for instance. He also suggests that tried and true job-searching staple, networking.

Customer service, gift-wrapping, delivering packages or chopping down Christmas trees may not be work you'd dream of. But a paycheck may be what you most want from Santa this season.

© 2012 Forbes.com

Video: CNBC: Retailers ramp up holiday hiring


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer

    From the moment you hear the words ‘You have breast cancer,’ it’s almost like you’re shot out of a cannon. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed.

    10/1/2014 10:52:45 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:52:45
  2. Want to help? A guide to breast cancer charities

    In the United States an estimated 296,000 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and almost 40,000 women and 410 men will die of the disease. That's one death every 14 minutes, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

    10/1/2014 10:45:11 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:45:11
  3. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
  1. Nbc News

    9 things we learned from Brian Williams' Facebook chat

    10/2/2014 1:41:28 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:41:28
  1. Noel Vasquez / Getty Images Contributor

    Mila Kunis,  Ashton Kutcher welcome baby girl

    10/2/2014 1:24:09 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:24:09
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

    10/1/2014 7:30:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T19:30:52
  1. Texas Ebola patient had contact with kids

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a press conference on Wednesday that “some school-age children” had been identified as having contact with the man diagnosed with the first case of Ebola in the United States. 

    10/1/2014 5:37:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T17:37:52