'Tis the season -- to find a job

On the Job

Ahhh, the holidays.

With a gift list that keeps expanding and a budget that doesn't, isit any wonder workers are taking on additional seasonal jobs? Such jobsbring extra cash, generous employee discounts and even a chance for along-term career. (That is, if you can deal with managing harried -- andsometimes unruly -- customers.)

Last year retail employers hired 629,000 seasonal workers, about 20 percentmore than the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation.The average hourly wage for non-supervisory retail employees, includingbenefits, is $15.47, according to the federation. The average hourly wagefor non-supervisory retail employees, including benefits, is $15.47,according to the federation.

Retailers aren't the only ones hiring. You could be a mallgift-wrapper, a Santa or his helper.

UPS, for instance, plans to hire 40,000 to 60,000 temporary workersacross the country. In the Baltimore area, the shipping company is lookingfor some 600 seasonal employees, a majority of whom will work as driver'shelpers, says Harry Brown, a hiring supervisor at UPS' Hunt Valley office.

UPS requires no experience for the entry-level position, which pays$10.50 an hour.

"We train them in how to deliver the packages," Brown says. "Driversmake 160 stops, but at peak season, it's 300 or more."

Before rushing to the nearest mall to pick up those job applications,there are a few things to consider.

For starters, be prepared to give up your nights and weekends. (UPSdoes not deliver on the weekends.) Employers are looking for prospectiveseasonal workers with the most flexible schedules, says Shawn Boyer, chiefexecutive officer of SnagAJob.com, a job posting site that specializes inhourly positions.

Experience is a plus for some positions, such as in sales at high-enddepartment stores. But it's not always required, Boyer says, especially forsuch jobs as merchandise stocking.

Sometimes, having the right attitude and tolerance for holiday-frenzycustomers is equally important, especially in the retail environment, Boyersays. Employers will "ask people about their energy level, about their loveof interacting with people and the ability to stand up on their feet for along period of time," he says.

Take into account your interest, whether in clothes, electronics ortoys, when looking for a seasonal position. And consider retailers whoseemployee discounts can come in handy when buying presents for friends andfamily.

Borders Group Inc., which operates Borders and Waldenbooks stores,offers a 33-percent employee discount.

The company expects to hire about 5,000 temporary workers, saysspokeswoman Anne Roman. A majority of these hires will work at thecompany's Day by Day calendar outlets, which are set up at mall kiosks andtemporary stores.

For some workers, a seasonal job is a way to get inside the companypermanently.

Brown, the hiring supervisor at UPS, says he hires up to 70 percentof its seasonal workforce as part-time employees, who then often work up tofull-time status. (Brown notes that part-time workers get full-timebenefits.)

Take Dale Bolt, 38, of Upperco, who started his UPS career as aseasonal worker last year. He sought the temporary gig in hopes of becominga full-time driver.

Now, Bolt expects to get his own seasonal worker to help deliverpackages on his route in Carroll County, which includes the Town Mall ofWestminster.

"My season is well started now; I'm delivering 120 packages to up to200 plus," Bolt says.

Have you been a seasonal worker? What was your experience like? And what else is on your mind about life at work? Send your stories, tips and questions to working@baltsun.com. Please include your first name and your city.

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Figures on seasonal workers provided by the National Retail Federation were misstated in an earlier version of this article. The Sun regrets the error.

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