October 12, 2015

How to find a part-time retail job during the holiday season

For those looking to earn some extra cash during the holiday season, working a part-time retail job can be a great way to gain new experiences and skills, meet new people, and possibly get a discount on some of your favourite products. And although finding a part-time retail job during the holidays can be challenging, I've put together a simple five-step guide to help you get started in your job search.

Step 1: Research opportunities in your area

As with any job search, it's important to take a day or two to research the various part-time retail job opportunities in your area. Back in the day, this meant visiting malls and stores to see if they had a "Hiring Now" sign in their window.

But nowadays, it's much easier as you can do most of your research by visiting mall and store websites. For example, the websites for the Scarborough Town Centre, Eaton Centre, and Limeridge Mall include a section where they list full- and part-time retail job opportunities.

And remember, when you find a job you are interested in, add it to your job search tracking sheet. Staying organized will ensure that you're more efficient in your job search.

Step 2: Update your cover letter and resume

If you already have a cover letter and resume, spend some time updating it with any new skills or experience and be sure to highlight any relevant customer service experience or skills in cash handling, merchandising, and working as part of a team. Also, consider updating the style and look of your resume with new fonts and a personalized letterhead.

And if you don't have a resume or cover letter, download a template and modify it with your contact information, experience, and skills.

Step 3: Make a plan

Once you have a list of the companies and stores you want to apply to work at, it's time to create your plan. While you might be tempted to just go out and start applying, I suggest that you spend some time planning your application strategy given that stores might have different application methods.

For example, some stores will only accept resumes online, whereas others still ask applicants to apply in-person. If unsure, contact the store and ask them how they prefer to receive applications - the last thing you want to do is spend lots of time preparing your application to submit in-person only to find out that the store can only accept online applications (or vice versa).

Also, be sure to look into whether you need to complete an application form. Some stores require all applicants to include an application form, whereas others do not. It's always best to ask so that you know exactly what is expected.

Step 4: Start applying

Once you have your plan ready, you can begin applying. Regardless of whether you apply online or in-person, be sure to update your job search tracking sheet with the date you applied and your follow up plans.

And for those job opportunities where you have to apply in-person, remember to consider whether or not a hiring manager will be available to accept you application. Try to apply on a day and and a time you know the manager will be available (e.g. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings). If the hiring manager is available, that will increase your chances of securing an interview - and who knows, you might even be asked to have a short on-the-spot interview.

And if an application form is required, be sure to read up on how to complete an application form and how to answer off-beat application form questions designed to trip you up. Hiring managers are trained to look for specific things on application forms and if your application form isn't completed properly, you will dramatically decrease your chances of securing an interview.

Step 5: Follow up

A few days after you have applied, follow up with the hiring manager as this could jog their memory and lead to an interview invitation.

If you applied in-person, you can follow up by calling or visiting the store and speaking directly with the manager. If you applied online, log back into the application system to see the status of your application. And if you cannot find any information, try and contact the store head office and ask to speak to their Human Resources team.

Next steps

Once you have applied, you'll either be offered a chance to interview or not.

If you were lucky enough to secure an interview, read up on how to stand out during an interview and how to answer tricky interview questions.

And if you didn't get an interview, that's okay - securing a part-time position in the retail industry during the holiday season is not easy as the competition is fierce. Rather than get down on yourself, refocus, and start looking for new opportunities. Persistence and positive thinking will definitely pay off!