5 Tips for Landing a Seasonal Retail Job

Seasonal retail workers next to clothing racks.

The holiday season in the United States is about family, tradition, and home – oh yeah, and a whole lot of spending. Between holiday gifts and extra traveling to see relatives, the end of the calendar year is a busy time for the American economy. All that activity produces jobs – making the holiday season an optimal time for picking up some seasonal work.

Whether you’re currently out of work or in search of an additional side hustle, the festive period will provide you with the opportunities you need. The key is to put yourself in the position to obtain the best possible job and maximize your earning potential. Here are five tips for landing the seasonal job you’re after. 

1. Decide which employers to target

Before sending out resumes, you need to consider which employers will need the biggest influx of seasonal workers. By targeting businesses that need lots of extra help, you give yourself the best possible chance of getting hired. 

Businesses in the retail and shipping industries are often ideal options for holiday work. After all, these are the companies that sell and ship the holiday gifts that criss-cross the country each December. FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service all bring in extra help for the holidays, and national retailers like Walmart and Macy’s also hire additional workers. 

While these are good places to start, don’t limit yourself to massive national brands. Local businesses, from bakeries to sporting goods outlets, also need seasonal workers. A quick brainstorming session should be enough to determine which businesses could be interested in your resume. 

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2. Expand your technical skill set

Seasonal jobs often require a basic familiarity with technology. Many retailers have their employees use tablets when assisting customers. Delivery workers and mail sorters often enter the packages they encounter into digital databases. Even traditional workplaces like restaurants and cafes are becoming increasingly tech-heavy. To prepare yourself for the environment, it’s best to brush up on your technical skills.

Take some time to master common programs like Excel and Google Sheets. Play around with unfamiliar devices until you have a better feel for them. Try to improve your typing speed with a few minutes of daily practice. These simple strategies will make you a more competitive applicant when the holiday hiring season gets into full swing.

3. Consider the soft skills you would need

Soft skills often make the difference between the candidate who gets the job and others who fall short. The holidays are hectic, and employers want reinforcements who are hardworking, personable, and quick to think on their feet. As you prepare to fill out applications, it’s worth considering how you could hone these soft skills and then highlight them on your resume. 

Your soft, transferable skills could also affect where you apply. Are you a social butterfly who loves fluttering from one conversation to the next? Then a retail store could be just the place for you. Do you prefer a solo workplace where your diligence and self-discipline shine? Then perhaps you’d be a great delivery driver. The more you examine your own strengths as a worker, the easier it will be to choose potential employers and then create a resume that dazzles them.

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4. Be flexible

Scheduling can be a real nightmare for managers during the holidays. They’re constantly trying to plug holes and fill empty shifts while employees use vacation time for festive activities. This means you can give yourself a real leg up on the competition just by promising that you’ll be flexible with your availability.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons why you can’t be completely flexible. We’d all like to tell our potential employers, “I’m available whenever” – but life gets in the way. There are kids to care for, dogs to walk, and other jobs to perform – and that’s fine. Just remember that it behooves you to be as flexible as possible. There’s nothing a manager likes better than hearing that a potential new hire can accommodate a funky or fluctuating schedule.

5. Prepare and practice for interviews

Acing the interview is the last step toward landing the perfect holiday job – but you’ll have to prepare diligently beforehand. Take some time to read about popular interview questions. Make sure you have solid answers in mind, and try practicing your responses in front of the mirror. With enough preparation, you’ll impress the interviewer and skate right into the seasonal job of your dreams.

Santa’s elves aren’t the only seasonal workers around the holidays. Plenty of businesses outside the North Pole need extra workers, too. If you’re looking for a new gig, then it’s worth taking advantage of the opportunities that the festive season brings. With the right strategy, that extra income could be just a few steps away. 

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About the Author: Ben Clabault is a freelance writer from Sandwich, Massachusetts. He has spent much of his adult life traveling through Latin America. He currently lives with his fiance in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. His areas of expertise include travel, marketing, SaaS, and global cultures. You can find his work on Copyfolio and reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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