5 seasonal job myths debunked

No, you can’t wait until Black Friday, and yes, there are options beyond retail. Learn more truths about seasonal jobs.

5 seasonal job myths debunked

It’s that time of the year when everyone is looking forward to making merry—and you should be looking forward to making money.

Seasonal jobs can stuff some cheer into your wallet, but scoring one during these busy months requires a little extra savvy on your part.

Think you know all about landing holiday jobs? Think again. There are a few notorious myths surrounding seasonal employment that, like fruitcake, pop up year after year. Monster is here to clear things up and help you get a great job. (You can thank us later when you collect your first paycheck. We’ll send along our wish list shortly.)

Myth #1: Holiday hiring starts right before Thanksgiving

Don't wait for the turkey to be on the table before you get your resume out there. According to Jeffrey Quinn, Vice President, Global Monster Insights, “Although we’ve seen some spikes as early as August, retail hiring really gets started in September and experiences a big push by early October.” (Translation: Start applying to holiday jobs on Monster pronto.) 

Why so soon? “Seasonal employees need time to get trained and get acclimated so that they’re ready to go when there’s a surge in business,” says Jonathan Means, president of TrueBlue Workforce Management Group, a global staffing firm headquartered in Tacoma, Washington.

Learning curves aside, there’s a special set of circumstances surrounding the current wave of seasonal hiring. “This year, a lot of companies are starting hiring earlier because unemployment is low, and there’s a genuine concern among employers that they’re not going to find enough people to serve [holiday] shoppers,” Means says.

Myth #2: All seasonal jobs are retail jobs

It’s one of the most common misconceptions: “A lot of people think only retailers are doing the hiring because they’re the most visible jobs,” says John Challenger, CEO of outplacement and search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago.  

Granted, last holiday season, retailers hired roughly 615,000 seasonal employees, according to the National Retail Federation, and although they’re forecasting about a 4% increase this year, there are a number of other industries that also ramp up hiring for the holidays.

Thanks to all those online orders coming in at lightning speed, shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS hire a ton of temporary workers to meet increased demand. (UPS alone hired a whopping 95,000 workers for the 2016 holiday season.) Supply-chain jobs also increase during the holidays, Means says.

Moreover, many food manufacturers and distributors hire seasonal workers for all the eating that takes place during the holidays; 1-800-Flowers announced plans to hire approximately 8,000 associates nationwide for positions across its gourmet food brands. Speaking of food, the abundance of holiday parties means catering jobs are served up aplenty. 

Switching gears, this time of the year is open enrollment season at many companies, and many HR departments are looking for additional workers to help with the sign-up process and answer any benefits-related questions.

Myth #3: Holiday jobs end on December 26

Holiday sales peak right before Christmas, but that doesn’t mean all holiday employees get cut the next day.

“Many employers extend seasonal jobs into the new year,” says Mills. For example, big retailers retain a large percentage of their holiday employees through January for a couple reasons: Post-holiday-sales events generate a lot of in-store foot traffic and online orders, and customers return a lot of products that they purchased as gifts.

Top-notch holiday workers can also get hired full time, since “a lot of employers use seasonal jobs as a recruiting opportunity,” Challenger says. Show up on time, be flexible, and have a positive attitude, and you might find yourself with a permanent position.

Myth #4: Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t hiring because sales are down

Despite the rise of online sales—and Amazon’s apparent quest to take over the entire e-commerce market—department stores and small brick-and-mortar shops still hire plenty of holiday workers.

Some big-box stores have already announced they’re hiring large numbers of holiday employees. For instance, Target said it's hiring 100,000 people to work at its more than 1,800 stores during the holidays, up 40% from last year, and the retailer also plans to hire 4,500 people to help pack and ship online orders at its warehouses.

A quick look at the 1,000+ seasonal retail jobs available on Monster indicates other stores are also gearing up (looking at you, Kohl’s).

Myth #5: Seasonal hiring only happens during the holidays

Hiring for temporary retail and shipping jobs spikes during the holiday season, but other industries bring on extra hourly workers at different points during the year.

Because spring is the busiest season for home improvement projects, Lowes hired more than 45,000 additional workers in February; meanwhile, Home Depot hired more than 80,000 workers during the spring to handle its influx of sales.

In addition, during the summer (i.e., peak vacation season in the U.S.), the hospitality industry hires additional help; and in the fall food growers and distributors increase hiring for the harvest season.

Here’s a parting pro tip: If you had a temporary job during last year’s holiday season that you liked, start your quest for seasonal employment by searching Monster for your previous employer.

“A lot [of companies] bring people back year in and year out,” says Challenger. “They hire the same seasonal workers every year because they’re looking for fewer people they have to train.” Applying to the job again would essentially be like giving them a gift.