If you’d like a holiday job this year, you need to get hopping. For all the reasons you already know — bad economy, weak retailers, excess labor — there are fewer jobs available and more people seeking them.
Is it worth the effort? That depends.
The trick is to nail down the holiday job quickly, to keep from diverting too much energy from the main employment effort. Here are some tips:
1. Pinpoint your likely targets and the skills you want to use. Are you strong and healthy? Maybe your target will involve transporting packages or stocking shelves. If your strength is customer service, retail or catalog sales might be the right fit.
2. Go beyond the big-name places. If you follow Tip 4 on this list and avoid online applications, you won’t have much luck in these places anyway, as they generally require electronic apps. Also, they are usually inundated with holiday applicants.
3. Make a one-page, targeted résumé based on the skills you just identified as your main sales points. Remember that a retail manager seeking a salesperson does not care about your 30 years in graphic arts. Think like a store manager and ask yourself what you can do that this person wants to know about.
4. Ignore the online job postings. This is the wrong system for most holiday applicants because it will screen out those who can’t show relevant experience in the terms the system seeks. Some systems will also screen out candidates based on previous salaries — and they won’t let you skip the question.
5. Deliver your résumés by hand. If you really want a holiday job, you’re going to have to show up. To streamline this effort, print a bunch of résumés on moderately nice paper, then pair them with a brief cover letter explaining that you would like to join the company’s team for the holiday season and that you are available immediately. As an extra sales point, the letters can mention that you live nearby or that you are available all shifts, etc.
6. Follow up, then keep moving. Call the manager the day after you deliver your materials, then make a note to check once more the following week. Meanwhile, if you really want holiday work, you will have to start this whole cycle again tomorrow.
Is it worth all this effort to get a holiday job? Or any job for that matter? Again, you’ll have to decide. But at the very least, I’d say that it’s good to return to the basics once in awhile to remember how the footrace can be run.
Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice .com or at 626 Armstrong Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.