By Carol Tice
If you're still thinking about scoring a holiday job, go for it. The holiday forecast from recruiting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas is that some retailers may play it safe and delay some of their hiring until late in the season. They also forecast that holiday hiring will be better this year than last year, when more than 500,000 workers found seasonal work.
With the economy picking up, a seasonal job can get your foot in the door for permanent work. Retailers say they definitely keep an eye out for outstanding seasonal hires to keep on after the holidays.
Here's a look at some of the companies with the biggest hiring plans for holiday 2010, and the type of workers they're hiring:
1. Macy's (hiring 65,000)
The department-store giant is hiring an army of seasonal in-store sales associates ($9.76), as well as call-center customer-service representatives ($13.03) and warehouse workers ($12.86) for its distribution centers and Macys.com's product warehouses.
2. UPS (hiring 50,000)
All those packages we order online have to get delivered, and UPS gears up to handle the volume spike, says corporate workforce planning manager Matthew Lavery. The most common job they hire for is driver's helper, which requires heavy lifting. UPS also hires drivers ($14.13) and package handlers at their distribution centers. As with all the warehouse jobs mentioned here, warehouse workers for UPS need to be able to lift 75 pounds. No matter where you live, you can probably find a package center near you – Big Brown has more than 1,000 locations nationwide.
"We can train people," says Lavery. "You need a desire to be successful, to come to work every day – basic skills. We train you on the handheld computer we use for deliveries."
3. Toys "R" Us (hiring 45,000)
The toy retailer is doubling its work force, in part because it's opening 600 pop-up ministores inside shopping malls this holiday season. Spokeswoman Linda DeNotaris says sales associates should be "hard-working, reliable individuals who enjoy working as part of a team and want to help us achieve our goal of providing memorable store experiences." She adds, "Many of our seasonal employees remain with us after the holiday season has come and gone."
4. Best Buy (hiring 29,000)
If you love tech gadgets, Best Buy could be a fun place to work this holiday season. Cleveland-based portable electronics supervisor Elisha Unger says roles include cashiers ($8.48) and three categories of customer-service specialists – in home theater, portable electronics, and "counter intelligence agent," better known as the Geek Squad's computer-repair staff. Repair workers usually have prior experience in computer repair, and take an evaluation test 90 days into their employment, Unger notes.
5. Amazon.com (hiring 10,000+)
With Amazon, geography is key, as their jobs are found only where the online retailer has product warehouses – that's Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Aside from seasonal warehouse work, which is mostly done hiring now, Amazon spokeswoman Michele Glisson says the ecommerce giant is currently making permanent hires for customer service managers ($16.10) and customer service operations managers at customer service centers in Kennewick, Wash.; Huntington, W.V., and Grand Forks, N.D.
6. Nordstrom (doesn't disclose hiring figure)
The department-store chain is known for its customer service, and pays slightly above industry averages for top-flight sales associates. While they aren't saying how many hires they're making, spokesman Colin Johnson says hiring is up this year compared with last holiday time. The company gets a jump on the competition by starting to hire its seasonal sales associates back in September for its half-yearly sale. Prior experience isn't as important as enthusiasm for making customers happy.
Business writer Carol Tice is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, The Seattle Times and other major publications.
Source: Alldata is from PayScale.com. The listed are median, hourly salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.