Hiring trends to watch for this holiday season

Understanding these key aspects of holiday hiring could make this the perfect season for you to find a new position.

Over the past year, the U.S. economy has added over 100,000 jobs per month every month except for May, and the most recent jobs report pegs the unemployment rate at a tick under 5 percent. However, with unsettled global markets, a possible interest rate increase looming, and the uncertainty of an election year, many employers and job seekers are uneasy about what 2017 may bring.

Despite that, the holiday season provides unique opportunities to those who are searching for employment. The talent pool tends to shrink as the calendar hits November and December, as job seekers put off their search for the New Year. In addition, employers tend to hire quickly and decisively in order to respond to holiday season demand. Understanding these key aspects of holiday hiring could make this the perfect season for you to find a new position.

Fourth quarter hiring increase

As the fiscal year draws to a closes many companies strategize on what their workforces are missing. According to the Staffing Industry Association, 1 in every 4 businesses plans on hiring new workers for full-time positions between October and December.

"The Government IT sector is booming this time of year," notes Steve Broadman, Division Director of Beacon Hill's Government Services Division in Washington, D.C. "Many contract awards are happening and with the culmination of the election cycle, we expect a wave of new programs to kick off with new political appointees stepping into the mix here in the DC market."

When it comes to holiday season hiring overall, a CareerBuilder study found that 62 percent of employers will move their seasonal workers to full-time after the holidays are through. This means those who are hesitant to take a part-time job shouldn't be—the chances that gig turns into a long-term employment opportunity are in your favor.

Retail isn't the only industry hiring

While holiday hiring is synonymous with retail and logistics because of the increased reliance on product shipping, many job seekers don't realize the hiring spree extends to other sectors as well. A large number of employees regularly go on their vacations this time of year and businesses are often left with an increased workload and a partially present workforce. This is your chance to shine.

The CareerBuilder study reported the following sectors will be hiring just as much—if not more—than retail and logistics:

  • Customer service: 37 percent of respondents
  • Administrative support: 19 percent
  • Accounting or finance: 16 percent
  • Technology: 15 percent
  • Marketing: 15 percent
  • Non-retail sales: 13 percent

These are the types of opportunities that can be parlayed into full-time jobs after the holidays are done if job seekers make a big enough impact with their work performance. "Each year, seasonal employees and contractors on temporary assignments through the holidays work themselves into full-time jobs come January," says Charlie Cain, Managing Director of Beacon Hill's Associates Division. "A lot of companies have opportunities for job seekers around the holidays that wouldn't normally exist, because of increased customer demand or necessary year-end work. It is an excellent opportunity to showcase your flexibility, your commitment, and your positive attitude – even with mundane tasks. I have seen individuals with these traits parlay a temporary holiday season opportunity into a full-time job."

Salary increase

Bountiful job opportunities aren't the only gift being given to job seekers this holiday season. To help compensate employees for the increased work in many sectors this time of year, the CareerBuilder study reported that businesses are willing to pay more to part-time hires.

Nearly 3 in every 10 organizations are planning on paying at least $16 per hour to their seasonal workers, while the other seven companies are shelling out $10 per hour at the minimum. Both of these figures represent a 9 percent and 3 percent increase, respectively, from last year's numbers, according to the CareerBuilder study.

Staffing firms stand out

This time of year, companies are inundated with extra business, paid time-off requests and the nearing end of the fiscal year. Many choose to work with staffing firms to help fill positions that requires workers to be flexible in both work hours and ability.

Job seekers and employers alike will be turning to staffing agencies to help talented workers find the positions that suit them best, and vice versa. In the end, it's likely that each position filled may end up becoming a full-time opportunity.

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