NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Every year, the holiday season brings a different kind of gift to thousands of Americans: jobs. With millions of shoppers hitting the malls and department stores, the retail industry hires seasonal workers en masse to keep up with the crowds. Last year, despite continuing unemployment and economic uncertainty, the industry added more than 450,000 workers to the payrolls, according to the National Retail Federation.
For the most part, though, seasonal workers are just that—seasonal. With Christmas behind us, retailers have already begun laying off holiday help to trim their budgets. And while many of these temporary hires were simply content to pick up a little part-time work to help pay for presents, others will find themselves back on the unemployment line, trying to make ends meet.
Not every seasonal worker gets a handshake and a pink slip, however. A select few are asked to stay on permanently, having sufficiently impressed their boss in the two months they’ve spent on the job. We spoke to employment experts and retail veterans to find out what workers can do to make the most of their seasonal job.
Have the Right Attitude
Almost every expert or employer we spoke to agreed that having the right attitude toward the work was crucial. While that’s true of any profession, the people-oriented world of retail makes attitude and disposition particularly important – especially if you’re seeking work as a sales associate or customer service representative.
“A lot is based on personality – can you get out there and meet and greet the public?” says Beth Feingold, executive director of Under One Roof, a nonprofit gift shop based in San Francisco. A veteran of the retail industry who’s worked everywhere from Saks Fifth Avenue to I. Magnin, Feingold says she looks for “someone who can engage with customers and ‘get it’ about what drives the business.”