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Using a Seasonal Job to Leverage a Full-Time Role

Lindsay Olson

The holiday season is great for job seekers, especially if you're willing to take a seasonal job. While there's no guarantee that this job will turn into a full-time, permanent opportunity, you can take measures to increase the chances of that happening.

1. Go above and beyond. Managers, especially in retail, are scrambling to keep up with harried customers this time of year. They can use all the help they can get, and if you're the one offering extra assistance, they'll take note.

Offer to stay late, help with inventory, learn a new task or come in on your days off if it helps your boss. Or simply ask if there's any way you can help. Chances are he won't refuse the offer. Just avoid brown-nosing. No one likes the offer of help if it's obviously tied to a request. Instead, find ways you can be genuine in your offer to assist.

2. Don't balk at working holidays. Managers expect you to ask off around the holidays, but it doesn't mean they like it. They often have the goal of hiring seasonal help that will work as much as possible during this time. Because these roles are temporary, they take what they can get.

If you make yourself readily available to work the week of Thanksgiving, weekends, and the days before Christmas, you'll make your boss's life that much easier. Consider it your gold star.

3. Show up on time. Again, seasonal help can sometimes be unreliable, as most seasonal workers are just there for a little extra holiday cash. So simply showing up on time, not going over on your lunch break and leaving when you're supposed to can be enough to get your boss's attention.

4. Let your wishes be known. The only way your boss can know that you want to stay on past the holidays is if you let him know. But feel out the situation: because he'll be so busy with the holiday sale season, approaching him in the middle of a rush might not be the wisest move on your part. Ask in your initial interview if the company ever brings seasonal staff on permanently, as well as what you might be able to do to get hired yourself.

Then a few weeks before your work period is ending, schedule a private meeting with your boss. Remind him of your interest in staying on, and ask if he sees the opportunity of you becoming a full-time employee. Reiterate your passion for the job and point out a few of your extra efforts as evidence that you're hire-worthy.

5. If at first you don't succeed... Sometimes a manager simply doesn't have the budget or need to hire you after the Christmas holidays. It may be no reflection of your performance on the job. So in a year, if you're still interested in working for the company, apply again as a seasonal worker and let your wishes be known again. Because you have history working for the company, and because your boss knows you're serious about working there, you'll increase the odds of getting hired permanently this time around.

Establishing a solid work history with a company, even if it's just for seasonal work, will help you get hired. If there is an open position and your boss has seen how hard you're willing to work, he's got no reason not to bring you on. After all, hiring a new employee with no work history at the company requires training, and there's always the risk that the person won't be as responsible as you've been.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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