Working Strategies: Six steps to securing holiday employment

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.

Working Strategies by Amy Lindgren

Working Strategies by Amy Lindgren

There’s the potential benefit of making contacts or opening the door to a permanent job.

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.

30 comments Add your comment


November 4th, 2009
9:54 am

The Holiday job is not worth that kind of effort for so little money. Also, remember if you are receiving unemployment from the state, you have to let them know. Then you have that hassel there.

Go ahead and work all kind of hours for pennies. Keep up the real job search and net work, and then net work some more.


November 4th, 2009
10:47 am

J, point well taken. I was considering a seasonal job as I just got laid off but your point about working crazy hours for pennies makes a lot of sense. I can make more staying at home collecting unemployment and dedicate that time for real job searches/spending time with my children


November 4th, 2009
11:10 am

These jobs can lead to permanent employment if you are a star. If you are lazy and will not do a good job then maybe the collection of unemployment is for you. There can be some crazy hours but that will also allow time for a proper job search. I ended up making almost 70K and working at a company for almost 7 years off a 2 week temp assignment and my job before that happened the same way. Sometimes the hard way is really the easy way to a great job. Keep pressing forward. We all know it is not easy these days.


November 4th, 2009
11:13 am

No matter what the Job or pay, it is better than taking unemployment which taxpayers fund. There are no free rides.


November 4th, 2009
11:15 am

I have a recent felony, and I am unable to determine if THAT is the reason I get (virtually) no responses, or the economy, or my age or what. I just keep plugging, though, submitting aps & resumes, for jobs within my skills/experience set, and entry level positions. I will wash dishes for minimum wage & be grateful!!!!


November 4th, 2009
11:23 am


You seem to have forgetten that if you are on unemployment insurance, that you were let go from a job for reason(s) that were not your doing. Meaning, you didn’t screw up and get yourself fired.

As such, these folks are taxpayers, too. So, if they paid in the money to the fund, why should they be chastised for using it?

Yours is a rather short sighted position.


November 4th, 2009
11:32 am

My position was elimated 6 months ago. I don’t receive unemployment because I worked for a church. I have not received an offer for an interview either. I receive no assistance.I’ve worked since 1980 but hardworkers like me slip through the cracks.


November 4th, 2009
11:45 am

I am sorry to hear you feel this way. I have paid into the system for over 10 years, then I got let go through no fault of my own. So, I, too, am on unemployment and am trying hard to find another job. Unemployment benefits are there for a reason – to help people through a difficult time financially until they can get back onto their feet. However, I was wondering, how many jobs has Obama really saved or created? In fact, he’s destroying the economy with his comments (no business travel – just ask people in Las Vegas how they feel when they vote out Dingy Harry in 2010) and socialist programs. The government cannot hire us out of this recession, they cannot tax us out of recession and sooner or later, Obama is going to have to stop blaming the previous administration for our problems. It is time for Obama to grow up and take some responsibility, quit acting like some child trying to blame others for your problems. Small businesses – those who employ less than 25 employees – generate 85% of all jobs. So, if you, Robin, or anyone out there would like to give a “hand up” rather than the government “hand out,” feel free to start your own small business and advertise your job openings. Obamanomics 101.
Thanks for reading!


November 4th, 2009
11:51 am

We do not pay into the unemployment fund. That money is paid in 100% by the employers, so your not receiving money that you have paid in. Also, if you are on unemployment and you do take a seasonal job, you still draw your unemployment and nothing changes unless you quit or get fired from the seasonal job. I worked a season job and helped me from being so depressed about not finding a full-time. I was also able to make other job contacts.


November 4th, 2009
12:04 pm

Sorry about the grammer. Working from home parti-time while searching for full-time employment, lost my place in the blog. Side note, the work from home job contact was made while working at my seasonal job.
You sound so knowledgeable about small businesses and Obanomics 101 why is it you think you have paid into the “system” that you are drawing from for 10 years? Any small business owner knows that unemployment is not paid into by the employees.


November 4th, 2009
1:34 pm

My strategy during the holidays for making ends meet is to cook. I bake goods for people who can order large quantities. I can do this full-time or part-time depending on my schedule. I have written about my strategies in a book Cooking Up Some Dough (


November 4th, 2009
3:29 pm

So many people are under the misconception that Unemployment is funded by taxpayers, this is incorrect. Your employer has to carry an unemployment insurance policy, this is federal law. When you apply for unemployment it is paid from the employer’s insurance first, I am not sure whether or not the insurance covers extended benefits that have been offered in the past, I think that comes from the state’s reserved funds. Please note that the unemployment insurance premium that the employer pays is NOT funded by the employee or taxpayers.


November 4th, 2009
4:47 pm

Enter your comments here

GA Girl

November 4th, 2009
6:51 pm

Unemployment is for those who truly need it and have through “no fault of their own” lost their job. It is amazing how many people are looking for a hand out. Jobs are available, get one.

Jack Schitt

November 4th, 2009
8:03 pm

@ Robin….NEWSFLASH for you. Taxpayers DO NOT fund unemployment. Companies pay into the fund for every employee they have. The funds are disbursed from that fund. So please study and know what you are talking about before you get keyboard happy. Now you can say you know Jack Schitt.


November 4th, 2009
8:59 pm

regardless of how unemployment is funded, it is there to help the millions of people like myself who have been surplused due to company downsizing. i am not ashamed to receive my weekly unemployment. and it is SO easy for some of these bloggers to say “jobs are available, get one”. there are indeed, hundreds upon hundreds of jobs posted this is true. but talk to me after you have seen me online for endless hours per day submitting apps, in line @ job fairs, doing follow-up emails/calls every other week, actually making it thru 2-3 interviews – only in the end to hear nothing or that it was offered to someone else, or that the company restructured and the positions have been closed. the demand (for jobs) simply does not meet the supply (of ppl needing work). so until you’re in a persons shoes who has been laid off after years of dedication to their company, pls do not judge anyone for receiving unemployment. i will continue to receive it until i find another job. if you have one for me (GA Girl) i’m all ears , er, eyes.


November 4th, 2009
9:24 pm

My advice to those who are collecting unemployment: DO NOT waste your time at these temporary jobs. If you are fired or quit (even for a good reason), your unemployment will stop. That’s what happened to me earlier this year. I was let go from my job through no fault of my own and collected unemployment. One of my former colleagues offered me a part-time temporary position working for his company. I took the offer and collected the unemployment while I worked part-time. To fast forward to the outcome, I had to quit the job because it required me to use my car, thus increasing my weekly gasoline cost. I could not afford it so I quit the job. When I filed an additional claim with the department of labor, I was told that my reason for leaving the job was a “good personal” reason but not a compelling work related reason, so therefore my benefits were terminated. All of my savings were gone and friends helped me along until I started a small business. Business is slow but I am getting by.


November 5th, 2009
8:55 am

I was not going to comment until I saw Carter’s comment about Obama.
How in this world we call Earth are you going to blame Obama for the current Crap that the USA is facing when You know Full well eight yrs of the Past administration sent our country down the toliet and forced
in to a recession by paying for a Billion dollar a month war? Thanks to your beloved Bush we went into a war In to a land, and after the wrong person(Saddam) when it should have been Bin laden where last I checked, they Still didnt get him. Wasnt he the one that financed the plot that was successful bringing down our twin towers? Was he not the mastermind? Saddam is dead, out of Power. Bin Laden is still in power. whats wrong with this picture.
Your blaming Obama for no jobs what the hell was Bush doing to create jobs. Yes Obama inherited the sad state and Messed up kitchen from the former administration. I saw this coming. I knew it I knew I knew. As soon as the New president took seat(didnt matter who it was)Folks like YOU would be blaming them for the sad state our country is in. People LIKE YOU CARTER Love to bellie ache and blame others. I would Like to see YOU Carter, walk on day in the shoes of the President and have everyone Blame YOU for the Messed up state things are in. See how you like it when the Public attack you. I bet you would not last a Day in the first seat. Why? because your a whinner.


November 5th, 2009
11:26 am

Hi, I like what “Newbee” said, so many people that HAVE a job that’s managed to survive this recession sound so Judgemental, The Gov’t long
ago set up the SAFETY NET, of unemployment benefits, Why? So People like
you and me, if all of a sudden didn’t have a PAYCHECK, could actually feed and cloth themselves and put a little, guess what? Gas in their cars or PAY for any necessities like the INTERNET, to actually be able to stay in the game and continue the foot work, and yes 100’s if not 1000’s of hours hunting on Web sites and in Job fairs which are very Spacific jobs looking for very spacific qualifications and they’re not afraid to say it either, even Age wise. So,believe me, if you’re ever laid off, as to no fault of your own, just remember there could be 6-10 others applying for the same job, DOL #’s! Numbers
according to just those collecting “earned,” unemployment through their
former jobs that paid into it, as mentioned by others…that you too could be in Our Shoes. Just something to consider before you all say,
“get a Job,” that was the Former economy, not the current one. Faith sustains many of us hard working folks searching and seeking and repeating again for something they’re actually qualified to do, and not screened out for some Computerized reason, oh yes be sure to keep your Credit Rating up also, while Career searching! Really appreciate those who actually care and have empathy, it could happen to Anyone! God Bless.


November 5th, 2009
2:42 pm

@Carter – Leave it to someone like you to blame Obama for Bush’s nonsense. People like you need to go away. Move to another country if needed!!!!


November 5th, 2009
3:15 pm

I just want a job, I’ve applied in person,online,through networking,just want a job, I’m drawing umeployment right now,just want a job


November 5th, 2009
5:51 pm

It is amazing how a simple subject on how to get a job can be taken advantage of by some people in order to spread hateful slurs (carter) and to bash others (robin) for taking advantage of a benefit that they have earned for being good and diligent workers in our society. Everyone please take a look at the blog and see how the entries have changed since the hateful bashing people placed their non-beneficial commits on it. There were some helpful comments made but for to many reply’s to the non-beneficial comments of Carter, and Robin. The time spent thinking up such trifling comments could have been spent doing something more beneficial for themselves or for society in general, like finding a volunteering opportunity in the community, or for the company that you would like to work for in the future. Everyone can be helpful if they put their minds to it.


November 5th, 2009
6:22 pm

I am like so many others that had a job and got laid off. I do receive unemployment and I am very grateful that I do. Without unemployment I would really be up a creek. I have spent days, hours and months applying to jobs online, in person or networking. Asking complete strangers where ever I am if they know anything about some one hiring or standing in line for hours at overly crowded job fairs that won’t allow you to enter because they have reached maximum capacity. I really just pray that somehow the economy turns around for all of our sake. I don’t really care who is the blame, I just wish that someone could do something fast and quick. I feel the pressure everyday because regardless of whether I am employed or unemployed my life doesn’t stop. My child still needs his mother to be 100% and pay the bills and provide for him. Some days I wish that I could just make something happen myself to make it better for the economy, myself, and all the people suffering. This goes beyond unemployment and looking for a job. People are homeless, loses all that they have and they where people that got up and went to work everyday.


November 5th, 2009
7:14 pm

I was small business owner paying into the unemployment insurance account when a major client asked me to join them. After two years, I was let go through no fault of my own. I can’t begin to tell you the sacrifices that were made taking that position and two years later I had to draw unemployment. I hold two degrees, have over 15 years of experience and now 14 months later I’m still in search of a job with a toddler at home. Because of tight pursestrings companies are not as open as they once were to what I offered in my business and other small business clients went on to other vendors when I made the switch, so starting another business is of course an option, but most small business owners can attest you work twice as hard for less money. I can say, you can’t trade anything for piece of mind though and I truly have missed that. Do I want to sit around and collect unemployment? NO! But I have to take our household into acct. And I join the other bloggers who have submitted countless applications with, so far, no resolve. I wish I could “just get a job!”


November 5th, 2009
8:40 pm

For those of you who have customer service experience and have a quiet environment at home, here is a website that you can check out that is legit and free!


November 5th, 2009
8:58 pm

I am glad some of you chimed in to let people know that we don’t unemployment, but their employers do. I’ve heard this from people for years and I became tired of saying otherwise. Also, folks the sun, moon and stars have been lining up for some time to bring about this current global situation; but in some respect we feel it even more here. When I graduated from college in 1975 people who didn’t want to fit into the college slot, could make a decent living and support their family, sometimes without having their mate work…and purchase a home, car etc. because there were manufacturers out there and technological jobs where they trained oftentimes on the job. Greed from many levels along with the passing of Nafta assisted in helping so many of our jobs move offshore. Loosening of regulatory agency policies for banking, oil industry etc. also assisted in moving us to this state of current economic woes. We have been moving in this direction the last 20 something years. Sorry, it was not Obama, or even entirely GW; albeit I think he’s part of that whole greedy bunch. I am blessed I have a job, a well paying job at least for the moment. I feel for others that are going through layoffs now. Regardless of who’s paying, that’s what it’s there for…to help. I help those that I can. We all have to help those that we can in whatever way we can assist. We can all see what buying so many of these “cheaper” items from overseas have wrought us…items that don’t last, poison our food chain and our pets. Personally (and I realize I am in a better position than some) I would be willing to pay more for American made products, to put more Americans back to work. The old saying is true..”you get what you pay for”…So isn’t the other old saying…”You reap what you sow.”


November 6th, 2009
2:14 pm

I have a job, but we have furloughs and I was reading this article to see if it was going to be worth it go back to work part-time at Macy’s. I think I will stay home and just sell stuff on e-bay. It really makes me sad to see how stressed out people are here. This article should have been helpful, but instead people have really gotten nasty and mean in their comments. I feel bad for those of you who have lost your job, I just hope I don’t end up in the same position. But please try to be kind to each other. Blaming the current or the former president isn’t really going to make a difference in your bottom line is it? And just for the record, I have 2 friends that got stimulus jobs in the last 4 months, so don’t count out the plans to get people back to work that are in place. Just realize, we didn’t get here over night, it took more than 8 years and a war to cause this situation, I promise you. So we can’t expect less than a year to be enough time to solve problems that have been growing all along. There is a whole generation of college graduates, and many of them are struggling to find enough work to live and pay their student loans. So, take comfort in knowing that we are not alone, unless we want to be. But attacking each other isn’t creating any jobs, now is it?


November 11th, 2009
9:42 am


Wow – Why so bitter? ‘Your’ hot-rod car didn’t win the race, so now you’re pouting…You’re the one that sounds like a child!

Obama IS our president, get over it and deal with it. I’d rather see someone working for us than against us!


November 15th, 2009
8:42 pm

Carmela, bless your heart. I was getting a bit flustered by all the attacks and counter attacks. It says that two wrongs do not make a right. Thanks for your input. We pray that all those who are currently unemployed (myself included) will find a job soon. Guys and Gals, it will be all right. Nothing in life is new. This too shall pass. Bless you all.

Greg Scott

December 3rd, 2009
11:44 am

The reason we cant get jobs is because the current corrupt political climate is driving small
business out of business. Small businesses cannot get loans even though hundreds of billions
were earmarked.for such. The wall street guys and banks just put the money in their pockets.
And yes small business employees DO pay for unemployment “ultimately” because
when the costs of doing business goes up, the available funds for employees goes down.
The Obama administration is nasty, vile and corrupt, just like the ones before it. It is a Washington
DC problem not a particular party. Raise the taxes on small business owners, increase
operating and regulatory requirements, and jack up the health care costs and the small business
owner cannot afford as many employees and may well no longer be able to compete in the
global economy.