How to Make Money

More Than 407,000 Holiday Jobs Will Soon Be Available. Here’s How to Apply

Updated September 22, 2016
by Susan Shain
Senior Writer
seasonal jobs

Though many people think of the holidays as a multi-month money-suck, some savvy Penny Hoarders view them through a different lens: as an opportunity to earn some quick cash.

It’s the biggest time of the year for retailers, and because of this, they extend their hours, add staff and send out more packages. Which is where you come in.

They need all the extra help they can get — and they’re willing to pay for it.

Whether you’re looking for extra money to help you stuff your kids’ stockings, or to go on your dream vacation next year, the next few months are a golden opportunity.

Here are five places to start your search for a seasonal holiday job:

1. Major Retailers

This is the first and obvious choice in holiday jobs, and rightly so.

This year, Target alone plans to hire 70,000 seasonal workers; Kohl’s, 69,000; J.C. Penney, 40,000; and the company that owns Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, 83,000. Amazon is also hiring a slew of people to work from home.

But don’t limit your search to the big box stores of the world; many smaller stores in the mall also need help.

One smart strategy? Apply at retailers whose products you or your loved ones enjoy — that way, you’ll be able to make good use of your employee discount!

Plus we’re always posting jobs — including seasonal ones! — on our site, so make sure to follow the Penny Hoarder Jobs page on Facebook so you don’t miss any of them.

2. Shipping Companies

December is the busiest month of the year for shipping packages in the U.S., and shipping companies are searching for employees who are willing (and able) to perform the heavy manual labor of loading and unloading packages for hours on end.

UPS plans to hire 95,000 seasonal workers this year, so apply if you can lift up to 70 pounds and pass a drug test.

As an added bonus, many UPS employees start in part-time package handler positions and work their way up — including the company’s CEO!

Top competitor FedEx plans to hire 50,000 workers, communications advisor Jennifer Caccavo Cordeau told me in an email.  

As with UPS, there’s also opportunity for upward mobility: “Based upon growth expectations and network expansion, many of these seasonal team members will have an opportunity for full-time work with FedEx after the holidays,” she said.

3. Family-Owned Gift Shops and Businesses

Just because a business is small or family-owned doesn’t mean it’s self-sufficient over the holidays.

From personal experience working at a chocolate store and a home-based beauty product company, I know the holidays can be a stressful time for any business — no matter its size.

Though they may not think to seek out help, many small businesses would welcome an extra pair of hands during this busy season.

Think about which retailers in your community offer popular holiday products (candy, candles, decorations, soaps, etc.) and reach out to them, explaining you’ll work at an hourly rate to help get their goods out the door in a timely fashion.

4. Holiday Festivals

Are you crafty? Then you’ve got an opportunity to make a ton of extra cash over the holidays.

The holiday crafting season is in full swing, and people are eager to purchase unique decorations and gifts.

Check your newspaper or sites like FestivalNet and The Crafts Fair Online for information about local craft fairs and festivals.

Even if you can’t get into any craft fairs in your area, you can always sell over the Internet: Create an Etsy page, or just share photos and descriptions of your goods on Facebook or Craigslist.

5. Catering Companies

We’ve got three words for you: office holiday parties.

These are a big business, especially for large corporations. If you have experience in food service, working for a catering company is an easy way to earn some extra holiday cash.

Look up local catering companies on Yelp — the higher its ranking, the busier it’ll probably be, and the more likely it’ll need help.

Call to get on its list of wait staff; even if the company doesn’t have any opportunities right now, it’s good to get on its radar. With the high turnover rates in the foodservice industry, you’re bound to get a call sooner or later!

If you want to make some extra money, the holiday season is the perfect time to do so.

But don’t wait to apply: Retailers want to have their new employees trained before the holiday rush begins, so they’re hiring NOW.

I always recommend old-fashioned walk-ins to increase your chances of getting hired, but you could also check Snagajob, which specializes in hourly positions, or keep an eye on Craigslist.

And a sweet cover letter couldn’t hurt!

Your Turn: Do you plan to work a seasonal job this holiday season? Where?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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