Seasonal Work: What It is and How to Find a Seasonal Job

seasonal job
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During the summer months, as well as in the lead-up to winter holidays, companies often need to hire extra employees. That's particularly common in the retail, transportation, and tourism industries, where business typically ramps up during the summertime and around the holidays. 

But any industry that has a "busy" season is likely to hire some seasonal help to manage the extra work. For instance, tax preparation firms sometimes employ additional staff during tax season. 

Learn more about seasonal employment opportunities and how you can find work. 

What is Seasonal Work?

Employment that does not continue year-round but usually recurs is generally referred to as seasonal work. Many positions are only necessary during certain times of the year so that workers will be employed only during that time period.

Seasonal jobs are temporary and short-term by definition.

Some work is seasonal based on geography. For example, there is a large boating and fishing industry in the Great Lakes region during the warmer months, but it shuts down during the winter. Some professionals in such an industry may work in a northern climate during the summer and shift operations to someplace further south and warmer for the winter.

For retail hiring, Christmas is the busiest season of the year. Employers usually start hiring in the fall for additional staff to ring the cash registers during the holiday shopping rush. The tourism industry also often heads up around the holidays, and also during the summertime. 

Companies That Are Hiring for Seasonal Jobs

Here are some of the companies that are hiring now for seasonal jobs:

Top Seasonal Jobs

Staffing firm PeopleReady reports that the top jobs for this year's holiday season include:

  • Warehouse associates (ex: forklift operators, shipping and receiving)
  • Customer service representatives
  • Production workers (packaging, material handlers)
  • Stockers and order fillers
  • Retail workers (ex: truck loaders and unloaders)

If you're looking for a remote position, FlexJobs has a list of companies that hire for remote seasonal and holiday jobs.

Types of Seasonal Work

There are a variety of terrific seasonal job options to consider if you're looking for a job for a specific time of year, or looking to make a career out of cobbling together different types of seasonal work. Here are some to consider: 

Retail

Many stores have help wanted signs in their windows. Your best bet if you're interested in a seasonal retail job is to walk around a mall or your town and stop in and fill out applications. 

Major chains, such as Macy'sTarget, and Walmart, among others, accept online applications.

Also, check out the local job searching resources for your city or state. Many of the employers who hire extra help for the holidays are the same employers who hire part-time help. So, be sure to check the part-time job sites.

Temporary

The temp market is a large one, and is expected to grow. Temp workers are typically in demand year round; needs vary based on the industry. Many temporary agencies seek additional staff for their clients during the holiday season. 

Kelly ServicesSnelling & Snelling, and Manpower all provide searchable databases of temporary positions. 

One of the big pluses of temp work is that you can do it on your schedule. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax departments need help in processing tax returns starting in early January, and tax preparation companies need staff to help prepare and file income returns throughout tax season.

Delivery

Due to the need to socially distance during the novel coronavirus pandemic, more people are ordering online (as opposed to going into stores) and getting food delivered. That's led to increased hiring for temp workers. 

During the holiday season, package delivery services add staff, including drivers and handlers, to help them deal with the deluge of holiday boxes. UPS is one of the leading employers of holiday help, and has a variety of options for applying for seasonal work. FedEx has a searchable database of jobs, and you can also apply for employment online. DHL also has employment information available online. 

Food delivery and food service is another area where more jobs may be available during the holidays. With busy schedules and visiting guests, people order more pizza and other delivered food and often eat out more frequently.

Outdoors

Does the outdoors sound more attractive? Ski areas and resorts hire extra help for the holiday and winter season. Typical positions include ski instructors and patrol, snowmaking, and hotel and restaurant staff. Some facilities include housing and discounted lift tickets.

Many resorts are open year-round and also hire for spring, summer, and fall positions.

If you're passionate about skiing, for example, and want to share your knowledge with other people, working as a ski instructor can become your regular seasonal job. Many ski resorts bring back the same staff year after year. 

You'll find summer seasonal employment at beach resorts, amusement parks, and historic and national attractions. Also review hospitalitytravel, and outdoor job listings, so you're viewing a broad range of options. You'll find that many of the jobs in these career fields are seasonal by nature.

When Should You Apply for Seasonal Jobs? 

In general, if you're looking for seasonal employment, start your job search before the season begins. That is, if you're looking for a summer position, start your search in the springtime. And, if you're interested in working around the winter holidays, apply for jobs beginning in the fall. 

That said, you can also have success at the start of the season (or even mid-way through). Since the employment is short-term by nature, some employees may quit, whether because they disliked the work or found a more long-term opportunity. 

How to Find Seasonal Jobs

Job search engines are an excellent way to find seasonal job listings. When you use advanced search options, you'll be able to search by type of position and narrow the results to include only job listings with seasonal hours. Here's how to search for seasonal jobs on the top job search engines.

Most job sites, such as Indeed.comLinkUp.comSimplyHired.com, and CoolWorks.com, offer advanced search features where you can search by keywords like "seasonal," "seasonal holiday," "seasonal retail," "seasonal ski," or "seasonal summer," etc. Include your location in the search to find jobs in your area.

If you have an employer that you're interested in working for, visit the employment section of the company's website.

Most large employers, and some smaller ones, accept online applications directly on the site.

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