The Ho-Ho-Holiday Job Search: How to find work during the busy season
Ah the festive season. Shoppers are frantically buying presents, offices are celebrating, and families are making merry away from home and around the dining room table. At this time of year, like no other, employers in the hospitality industry are scrambling to keep up with demand. That spells opportunity for job seekers looking for an entrée into hospitality jobs, especially in restaurants, hotels and catering operations. Just consider: if a restaurant usually operates with 20 servers, it will likely need 50 to meet holiday needs. A catering company’s functions will more than double for a few frantic weeks in December.
But if you think getting a job at this time will be a cake walk, think again. “Yes, hospitality employers are scrambling for help at a time when regular staff want to take time off and have a good time,” says Peter Shrive, partner with Cambridge Management Planning. “But they tend to be looking for strong seasonal help and aren’t prepared to turn their minds to hiring for a permanent position.”
Seasonal vs. full-time
So, should you take a seasonal, part-time job when you really want a full-time position? Absolutely, Shrive advises. Here’s your opportunity to show how well you can handle stress and extreme workload. When operations like restaurants are seriously short-handed, you might very well find yourself in a position with more responsibility. If you applied to be a server but show grace under pressure in that role, you might be offered a shot at managing the front desk. You’ll also be well placed for the added gratuities that come with the season.
The holidays are a perfect time for you to shine. And if you shine, you step to the front of the line for consideration for the next full-time job.
Tips to get your foot in the door
The strategy to apply for a holiday job in the hospitality industry differs somewhat from the techniques used in a regular job search. Says Shrive, “At another time of year, solid hospitality experience would be a must, but in this case the important factors will be your availability, your appearance, and your enthusiasm. You still need to present yourself well and have some experience in the area, but more importantly you must indicate that you can handle stress and strain.”
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your holiday job search opportunities:
- It’s never too early to ask hospitality employers about holiday opportunities. Start asking as early as possible, even six months in advance, when employers won’t be as stressed.
- Always keep your resume and credentials up to date. Make sure to add any hospitality-related courses, training and diplomas. Look at your documents regularly so you and they are ready for a good position that comes along, especially during the busy holiday season.
- Keep your interview skills razor sharp during the holidays because the hiring authority won’t have much time to spend with you. Describe your career in a sentence or two, be equipped with brief anecdotes to make a positive case for yourself.
- Once on the job, be prepared to be busier than you anticipated yet able to handle responsibilities in the spirit of the holiday, with good humor and professionalism.
- Seize the part-time opportunity in the hopes of turning it into full-time work.
- “The battleground during busy holidays is restaurants and hotels, and the people who hire in those institutions are going to be swamped,” says Shrive. “If you want full-time and only full-time work, you’ll have a hard time being seen and heard. If so, pick another time to get your foot in the door.”
- Don’t forget to breathe!