While Black Friday is just one week away and most retailers have completed their hiring of temporary seasonal workers, those getting a late or slow start on their holiday job search should not throw in the towel, just yet, according to one employment authority.

“It is never too late to find holiday jobs. There is a lot of churn in the sectors that typically hire seasonal workers and because employers are often hiring a lot workers in a short amount of time, there is a strong chance that many of those new workers will not pan out,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy.

Holiday hiring is expected to remain flat from a year ago, according to a forecast released by Challenger in September. If it does, it means about 740,000 seasonal workers will be added to retail payrolls in the final three months of the year. The bulk of this hiring typically occurs in late October and early November, and is usually reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment situation report released in December.

“That being said, we continue to see hiring in late November and into early December. On average, retail employment has grown by an average of 145,000 over the last five years. It is important to remember that these figures don’t include seasonal job gains outside of the retail sector. Job seekers can also be looking for holiday jobs in hotels, restaurants, catering companies, and warehouse and shipping facilities,” said Challenger.

There are several reasons to not give up on the holiday job search. The primary reason is that the sectors that have the strongest need for seasonal workers are also the sectors that typically see the highest turnover.

A 2014 report from the Hay Group, a management consulting firm, indicated that the turnover rate in the retail industry averaged 66 percent for part-time hourly sales associates. In the hospitality industry, which is another major employer of seasonal workers, the turnover rate averaged 72 percent in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“These high turnover rates, which are likely to be even higher among seasonal workers, mean that job seekers pursuing holiday employment should not hesitate to return to employers where they previously failed to get a job offer. The situation can change overnight,” said Challenger.
Challenger offered the following advice to those still seeking seasonal employment:


  • Visit employers in person – It is tempting in the Internet age to conduct one’s job search from behind the computer screen. However, many retailers will not post their seasonal jobs online, particularly smaller mom and pop stores.
  • Return to previous attempts – Don’t hesitate to go back to employers where you might have failed to get a job. Their staffing needs may have changed or they may have lost one or more seasonal workers.
  • Think outside the (big) box – Retailers undoubtedly have the strongest need for seasonal workers, but don’t overlook entertainment venues, restaurants, caterers, and other businesses that are busy during the holidays. Additionally, as more holiday shoppers make their purchases online, shipping companies like UPS and FedEx have enormous demand for seasonal workers.
  • Be flexible – The most challenging jobs to fill are those with unusual hours, such as overnight or early morning positions dedicated to receiving new shipments and restocking floors. Those who are willing to work any hours thrown their way will have a leg up on the competition.
  • Start with places you shop/visit – If you are a frequent customer at a particular store or restaurant, start your job search there. Even if you do not have a “relationship” with the manager or staff, they are likely to recognize you as a regular, which will give you an advantage.