Archive for December, 2010

Using Your Seasonal Job as a Skill-Building Resume-Booster!

Many job seekers are uneasy at the idea of taking on a temporary job during the holiday season.  The work is typically sporadic and short-term in nature.  Often times, the assumption is that showcasing experience gained through seasonal work on a resume can do more harm than good.  It can be interpreted to demonstrate inconsistency in employment or point out gaps in work history.

I, however, tend to disagree with this sentiment.  It is true that seasonal jobs are usually a temporary fix in the work search process. Bringing the right mindset into that holiday job will allow you to develop some unique marketable skills that could prove beneficial down the road.  Whether it is your first experience in the labour market, or your re-entry into the workforce after an absence, seasonal work around Christmas can boost your resume and make you more competitive for those coveted full-time positions.  Here are some examples of the types of skills you have the potential to hone through a temporary job, even if it is over just a few short weeks during the holidays:

Time Management/Multi-Tasking:

Christmas is a hectic time for everyone.  It feels like there are a thousand things to do but little or no time with which to do them.  All too often people wait until the last minute to frantically cross things off their list. It is no coincidence that malls, restaurants and grocery stores get busier with each passing day in December.  Statistics on this trend estimate that consumer spending rates in December increase by 65% over the usual monthly average!  This state of chaos trickles all the way down to the people working in front-line customer service.  In your seasonal job, you will be expected to take on several tasks simultaneously while prioritizing what needs to get done first.  The experience you will gain in working in a fast-paced environment will be invaluable.  Employers often use an employee’s ability to manage the holiday workload as a litmus test for contract extensions or future employment opportunities.  Be sure to actively engage in learning how to manage your time while juggling multiple tasks, because these are skills that will definitely help your employment cause moving forward!

Conflict Resolution:

Have you ever noticed that you or the people you know tend to be less patient around the holidays?  Something strange happens when the calendar is flipped to December.  People suddenly have less tolerance and get frustrated more easily.  Simple errands become irritable inconveniences that put people on edge.  Lines are longer but no one wants to wait.  These types of high-strung, stressed-out individuals can be uncomfortable to deal with. It is likely that you will encounter them frequently in your holiday job.  Embrace the challenge!  Employers are always looking for proven problem-solvers who can assert themselves and handle difficult situations.  There are few better places to start learning and practicing these skills than a seasonal job around the always-frantic Christmas holidays.

Active Listening:

Active listening is a skill that takes time and effort to develop.  Many people claim to be good listeners without having an idea of what it actually entails.  If you are introduced to someone but forget the person’s name thirty seconds later, are you really an effective listener?  There is much more to the art of listening than is usually assumed, and one can really only become good at it with experience in different types of conversations and interactions.  A holiday job can provide you with a unique opportunity to gain exposure to a diverse range of people: supervisors, colleagues and customers, all of whom will have different styles of communication.  You will gain valuable exposure to a host of multicultural and multilingual individuals.  Capitalize on the opportunity these interactions present. Use them to enhance your ability to solicit information from others, take direction, and communicate with purpose.  These are all benchmarks of a good professional reputation.

All in all, the benefits of taking a holiday job can be many as long as you bring the right mentality to it.  Seasonal employment offers you an opportunity to build skills you will need in your long term career.  With hard work and energetic learning, don’t be surprised if that offer comes directly from your seasonal employer.  Even if it doesn’t, your resume will boost your opportunity for other work.  Be sure to harness and maximize the potential that holiday work can bring you by looking at it as a skill-building stepping-stone towards your overall career goals

I would be interested to hear your stories and ideas on this topic.  What was your most valuable seasonal job?  What made it special?  What lessons did you learn?

*Ryan Paulson is a Career & Employment Information Specialist @ Pacific Community Resources Society.  He contributes to the MyERC blog through www.myerc.ca.  Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn at http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-paulson/15/603/11b.

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