Leaves turning scarlet don't just herald the coming of fall – they signal the start of seasonal hiring for winter jobs. Recession or no, many businesses must staff up, either to maximize sales during the critical holiday selling season or to get their business off to a good start in 2010.
With unemployment high, it'll be a competitive hiring season this year, so start your search early. In a survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, only 58 percent said they planned to hire as many workers as last year.
On the bright side, those temp jobs stand a decent chance of turning into permanent hires if companies are pleased with workers' performance – in the survey, 51 percent said their temp hires could be asked to stay on, compared with 45 percent last year.
Winter job possibilities run the full gamut from warehouse work to positions for accountants and human-resource professionals. Here's a look at who's hiring:
Some retailers may be cautious about hiring, but others are plunging ahead. SnagAJob senior marketing vice president Cathy McCarthy reports Toys"R"Us plans to hire 35,000 seasonal associates. Also hiring: portrait studios looking for photographers and customer service representatives. McCarthy says JC Penney Portrait Studios and Picture People are two she's seen staffing up.
"I would say value retail is doing quite well," she says. "Think about Walmart or Target."
Many large retailers will also be hiring additional warehouse associates to pick and pack items to go both direct to customers and out to stores. If you don't want to deal with cranky customers or want night shifts, this could be the ticket.
Retail is increasingly handled over the Internet which means customer service positions that can be done from home or at call centers. Recruiting firm VIPDesk (http://www.VIPdesk.com) recently reported it was hiring 250 home-based customer service agents for Eddie Bauer, to work part-time during the holiday season.
We may spend less for our holiday gifts, but we've still got to get them to our aunt in Spokane or cousin in Cincinnati. All the major shipping companies hire more drivers to handle the seasonal spike in package volume, notes McCarthy.
Holidays aren't complete for many families without a visit to see relatives. This means a boom in airport jobs. For instance, McCarthy reports the National Transportation Safety Agency (TSA) is looking to hire more baggage screeners and people screeners – known as transportation security officers – to help move the crowds through security checkpoints in time to catch their flights.
4. Resorts and hotels.
If you'd like to work where others play, investigate your local ski resort or warm-weather getaway spot. Your best bet may be with a major resort company, which may be able to offer you both winter and summer seasonal employment, as well as other perks.
Vail Resorts Management Company (http://www.vailresorts.com/Corp/index.aspx) senior vice president Mark Gasta reports that his company hires 11,000 people a year for seasonal positions. Besides the expected jobs – housekeeper, concierge, ski instructor, lift operator, customer service reps – Gasta says Vail also hires experienced chefs and wine experts (known as sommeliers) for the high-end dining rooms at their 16 resort properties.
For many outdoor enthusiasts, these seasonal jobs turn into a full-time career, Gasta says. Vail helps some valued workers make their healthcare-extension premium payments during the offseason as a perk to encourage them to come back for summer work in the company's river-rafting resort locations. Some 5,000 people work for Vail year-round.
"Our common story," Gasta says, "is someone who came out after college to be a ski bum for a year and never left."
January is the official start of tax-filing season, so major tax-prep firms such as Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block start hiring tax preparers now, due to the long training period, says Allison O'Kelly, CEO of national recruiting firm Mom Corps (http://www.momcorps.com/). A background working with numbers helps, but they can also teach you from scratch – both tax companies operate their own schools. (http://www.jacksonhewitt.com/TaxPrepInformation/) (http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/planning/tax_courses/index.html)
6. Human resources.
As the economy improves, more companies will be ramping up their expansion plans. That means they need more human resource managers to handle recruiting and hiring. Annual tasks such as reviewing employee-benefit options also ramp up after the first of the year.
"At the beginning of the year, a lot of companies get their new budgets," O'Kelly says, "so that's when they hire."
Business reporter Carol Tice (www.caroltice.com