When the last heavily discounted flat-screen TV is sold, when the final gift-wrapped package is gently placed on the stoop, and when the remaining tax returns are filed, you may wonder what happens to all those seasonal jobs.
In most cases, the seasonal workers clock out and collect their last paycheck. Maybe they use the extra money to offset their holiday gift giving, or maybe they tuck that money away for college or some other financial goal. The positions often sunset until the next big hiring initiative.
For Dan McMackin, a decades-long UPS worker, the opportunity didn’t fade away. And he says the opportunity doesn’t have to fade away for you either.
He started at UPS as a seasonal package handler in 1978. He worked his way into a permanent part-time role, then a full-time one. He moved into management, pivoted into HR as a seasonal employee recruiter and finally moved into his current corporate position as a public relations manager and spokesperson.
McMackin shared advice with The Penny Hoarder about the ins and outs of holiday hiring and how to turn a seasonal job into a permanent one.
Can a Seasonal Job Become Permanent?
UPS, one of the nation’s largest seasonal employers, commissioned a survey about seasonal work. The company found that nearly 70% of respondents want their seasonal or temp gig to turn into a full-time position. And 90% view seasonal work as a good way to land a permanent job at a company.
So the majority of workers certainly think seasonal jobs are good foot-in-the-door opportunities, but what about the employers’ perspective? Do they want to keep seasonal workers on permanently?
Even amid a massive leap in unemployment due to COVID-19, it’s in a company’s best interest to retain quality employees, as frequent turnover forces a company to spend money on training and retraining workers.
Tony Lee, a vice president at the Society for Human Resource Management, doesn’t think the practice is going away — especially for major seasonal employers like UPS, which have “built a pipeline” to retain seasonal employees.
With each batch of new recruits, managers watch closely to tap the high-performing ones to stay on long-term. That will still happen this year, according to Lee.
“It may mean they will do it less,” he said, noting that during economic downturns, companies may be looking to replace current employees with high-performing seasonal recruits.
How to Turn a Seasonal Job Into a Permanent One
Each employer operates a little differently, but this battle-tested advice holds true for almost all seasonal employment situations.
Treat It Like an Extended Interview
Scott Waletzke, an executive with staffing agency Adecco USA, recommends changing your mindset so you no longer view the job as temporary.
“View that job as just an extended interview,” he told The Penny Hoarder.
Some managers may already be drafting a short list of permanent candidates. If you approach the seasonal position as a pathway to a new job from the get-go, you’re sure to be on the top of the list.
As with any job interview, you’ll want to get a good reading on the company and its culture. Sure, you want to make a good impression, but use this time to see if the company meets your needs, too.
Seasonal work can be tough. It’s a busy time of year, and that’s why the company needs so many hands on deck. The nature of the work may lead seasonal employees to not take the job very seriously, McMackin suggested. That’s where you have the advantage.
“Because it’s a temporary gig, I think some people only want it for a short time,” McMackin said. “If you’re not one of them, you need to make it known, and you need to stand out as a hard-working, caring individual.”
He says simple (but crucial) things like demonstrating a strong work ethic, punctuality and flexibility will go a long way in setting yourself apart.
Ask Your Boss or Supervisor Directly
If you decide that you want to stay on with the company, let your supervisor know. It’s the most overt step you can take to secure a permanent position, but many people often skirt this conversation to avoid potential awkwardness.
It’s OK to make your intentions known as early as the job interview, but be sure to pull your direct manager aside after spending some time growing into your role.
Make sure enough time has passed for you to have proven yourself – bonus points for concrete examples – before you ask your boss to stay on permanently.
McMackin notes that seasonal work is fast paced, and there may not be a lot of down time during your shift for a career discussion with your manager. He says the easiest time to talk about it is right after a shift.
“Do you have five or 10 minutes after work?” McMackin recommends asking.
During the conversation, highlight that you want to stay on after the hiring season and express your long-term goals. Let them know relevant things you’re doing in college, if applicable.
“Many people want to come back permanently,” McMackin said, “but what if they didn’t do very good at the job?”
That’s when you, the one who did knock it dead, swoop in with a proven track record to ensure you stay on long after the seasonal sales end and the crowds disperse – no longer a faceless new recruit but a permanent employee.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.