How to get a holiday season job: 4 tips to bag seasonal work

The festive season offers all kinds of opportunities for those considering how to get a temporary holiday season job, as the increase...

Nicholas Kira

27 October 2023

18 min read

The festive season offers all kinds of opportunities for those considering how to get a temporary holiday season job, as the increase in consumer demand for goods and services means businesses across all different sectors need more staff – thousands of them. This need is driven by a number of different factors but is mainly due to the festive shopping rush (all those last-minute presents), holiday events, and increased social gatherings. From the retail sector to hospitality, to the industrial sector, and even facilities management, every industry will be hiring additional employees to help them get through this incredibly busy period.

For job seekers, the increased demand offers the opportunity to earn extra income during a financially demanding time of year and gain valuable work experience. It’s also entirely possible that a holiday season job may lead to more, so it’s well worth thinking about how to make a temporary job permanent, by impressing your employer(s). But you may well be wondering a few things, like when do winter holiday jobs start and how to prepare for a temporary job interview, so this post looks to help you demystify the whole process of applying for jobs across the festive period.

We’ll cover things such as why it’s important to apply early (any time from now onwards), the various holiday season temp roles available across different industries, ways to stand out during the application process, and how you could potentially turn your holiday season temp job into a permanent role. Read on for a sackful of tips to rival anything Santa could handle.  

A couple of quick holiday season stats to consider

In 2022, on average Americans were projected to spend $826 per person. Remember, this is on gifts alone, and doesn’t cover other spending, like the amount lavished on food and drink, whether dining out (work events, socializing with friends) or preparing a big meal for the family. This intense, nationwide shopping spree starts as early as September, so getting your foot in the door early will increase your chances of landing the best jobs and repeat employment. There’ll be an abundance of job opportunities relating to every aspect of retail and online shopping including production, logistics and warehouse operative roles, picker packers, stock management, packaging, delivery, customer services, and sales assistant roles. This is not to mention all of the waiting staff, bartenders, and chefs who’ll be needed to serve people in restaurants and at parties and events, so it’s best to start looking and applying now.  

When do winter holiday temp jobs start?

An overview of the hiring timeline for holiday season temp jobs

When thinking of when seasonal jobs start, it’s worth considering that we’re already well into the hiring period, which usually starts in late summer to early autumn, around August to September, so it’s time to get moving! Although recruiting as early as August may seem strange at first, it allows employers to train and onboard new staff well before the holiday rush. The actual start date for these holiday season temp jobs can vary, with some positions beginning in October and others in November. The peak hiring period is from October to early December, with retail and logistics industries, in particular, experiencing the highest demand for temporary workers. Bearing that in mind, it’s essential to apply early and keep an eye on job postings across jobs boards and apps, such as Indeed Flex, to secure a desirable position. Be prepared to attend interviews, provide references if necessary, and demonstrate your availability during this critical period for businesses across the country.  

Tips on when to start looking for holiday season temp jobs

As mentioned above, if you’re wondering when to apply for winter holiday jobs, the short answer is: now. This will maximize your chances of securing the right position(s). Here are some tips on when to start looking, which will come in handy both now and for future festive periods.

Get in there early: Ideally, you should start your search for holiday season jobs in late summer to early autumn, around August to September. Many employers begin advertising and recruiting for holiday season temp positions at this time.

Stay informed: Keep an eye on job listings, including those on individual company websites. Major retailers and businesses often announce their holiday hiring plans well in advance.

Be flexible with your availability: Be prepared for positions to start as early as October or as late as November. The hiring timelines will vary depending on the industry and the specific job.

Seasonal industries: Retail and logistics companies tend to hire earlier, while hospitality and event-related roles may start recruiting a bit later in the year.

Apply ASAP: As soon as you see a suitable job listing, apply straight away. Many employers have a rolling application process and may fill positions on a first-come, first-served basis.

Check local job fairs: Attend local job fairs or recruitment events in your area. Some companies may hire on the spot, so bring your resume and be prepared for interviews.

Online job boards: Use online job boards and platforms, like Indeed Flex, to search for holiday season temp job openings. Set up job alerts to receive notifications when new positions are posted.

Get ready: Have an updated resume and cover letter ready, along with a list of references. This will speed up the application process, although with Indeed Flex you won’t need a resume and lengthy cover letter – just a simple in-app profile summarizing your experience.

Be persistent: If you don’t find a holiday season temp job straight away, don’t be disheartened. Just keep searching and applying, as plenty of new opportunities will come up as the holiday season approaches.  

Finding the right holiday season temp job

Exploring the various temp roles There’s a vast array of job opportunities during the festive season, covering pretty much every sector you can think of; from working in retail as a sales assistant or a customer service role to jobs as a waiter or bartender in hospitality, to those in the industrial sector. In fact, those with skills in logistics can find temporary work in warehouses, assisting with the increased demand for online shopping and deliveries. Additionally, there are a whole host of event staff roles which become available, providing chances to work at holiday markets, ice rinks, festive attractions, or company events. It’s also worth bearing in mind that many businesses need extra help in decorating, so temporary jobs related to holiday decorations and setup are common. Not only do these roles offer a chance to earn extra income, but they also provide valuable work experience, which you can then add to your resume and use to gain further employment.  

Retail holiday season jobs Again, as demand for food and drink, and gifts, increases in the run-up to winter holidays, so does the number of jobs available, as retailers try to cope with that demand. Employers in this industry need more staff right across the board, including; sales assistants, cashiers, stockroom assistants, customer services representatives, online merchandisers, delivery drivers, night shift workers, security staff, and many others. Typically, they start hiring for these positions as early as August or September, with the peak hiring season running from October to November, and even beyond this. To find these opportunities, you should regularly check the websites (particularly the careers pages) of well-known retail companies, such as department stores, supermarkets, and specialty shops. Additionally, local job boards, online job boards, and temporary work apps, such as Indeed Flex, can really help when it comes to finding open positions. You may also want to consider visiting local job fairs and recruitment events, where retail companies will be actively seeking staff for the busy festive period. Should you get to the interview stage, be prepared to talk up your customer service skills and your ability to handle the pressures that come with working across the busy holiday season.  

Hospitality and Catering Positions

Cute female bartender makes cocktail drink with a steel sieve

When looking at how to get a holiday season job, the hospitality sector is certainly one to keep an eye on, provided you have the required skills and experience for the various roles on offer. Restaurants, bars, and event spaces will see a huge increase in customer footfall, with people out in droves celebrating the festive season with friends and family, for meals, nights out, and parties – especially office parties. All the additional fun and frivolity this season brings, means there’ll be a much greater demand for hospitality staff, including bartenders, waiting staff, food prep assistants, kitchen porters, chefs (of all levels of experience) and many more. To find these positions, you should look at job listings on dedicated hospitality job boards, check the career pages of restaurants, hotels, and event venues, and consider getting in touch with catering companies and event planners directly. Networking can also help, as many positions are filled through referrals and word of mouth. At interviews, you’ll most likely be assessed for your customer service skills, professionalism, and adaptability, given the fast-paced and customer-focused nature of the hospitality sector during the festive season.

Delivery and Logistics Opportunities

The run-up to holiday offers a wealth of temporary job opportunities across delivery and logistics, especially with the surge in online shopping and parcel deliveries, as people buy millions of gifts for loved ones. These roles, spanning what’s more widely known as the industrial sector, include; warehouse operative, picker packer, forklift operator, inventory manager, stock controller, last-mile delivery worker, delivery driver, courier, van loader/unloader, and many other roles. To find these positions, you should ideally start looking for them in late summer or early autumn, but there are plenty of opportunities to be found across October, November, and December. require a significant workforce boost. Explore job listings on the websites of major courier services, delivery companies, and online retailers, such as Amazon or DPD. You can also use online job boards, consult local recruitment agencies specializing in logistics and distribution, or look to platforms which offer such roles, such as the Indeed Flex app. If you’re willing to be flexible and possibly work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, this may well give you the advantage over other candidates when applying for these roles.

Van driver in a Christmas hat

Whatever the sector… apply for multiple jobs

One thing that can’t be said is that you can’t find a job over holiday, but the job market is incredibly competitive over the festive period and you may not get the first job you apply for. It’s not just your skills and experience that will determine whether you get the job, but also how many other people have applied for the same role. Some holiday jobs may be more competitive than others. For example, if the job you want is for a really well-known brand in a city with a large population, then it’s likely there’ll be many other hopefuls wanting the same job. So, applying for multiple jobs will give you greater options, opening up more opportunities.Whether you’re just looking for extra income over the festive period or looking to add to your work experience, applying for more than one job will increase your chances of reaching this goal.  You may well find that, by the end of the festive season you’ll have learned so many new skills and built up so much work experience, you’ll be glad you applied for all those jobs.

How to get a holiday season temp job: tips and strategies

How to prepare for a temp job interview

Preparing for a temp job interview is essential if you want to make a positive impression and increase your chances of securing the position. Here’s some valuable advice to help you get ready – some of which are relevant to all interviews (whether during the festive season or not) and some of which are specific to holiday roles.  

Research the company: Start by researching the company and the specific job role you’re applying for. Understanding the company’s values, products, and services will show that you’re genuinely interested in that role.

Understand the role: read through the job description and requirements carefully, so you can speak about how your skills and experience match demands of the position you’re applying for.

Dress professionally: Dress appropriately for the industry and job. For example, if you’re applying for a waiting staff role, wear a neat white shirt and black tie. If you’re unsure what to wear, you can’t go far wrong with business-casual attire.

Prepare your answers: Anticipate common interview questions, and questions relevant to taking on a role at this particularly busy time of year, and prepare your responses. Highlight your relevant experience, skills, and your ability to work well under pressure.

Customer service focus: Many holiday season temp jobs involve interacting with customers or guests, so make sure you emphasize your customer service skills, including communication and problem-solving abilities.

Flexibility: Talk about your willingness to be flexible in terms of your availability over the festive period, including being prepared to work irregular hours, covering evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Questions for the interviewer: Prepare some thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer, demonstrating your interest in the role and company. Ask about the expectations of the role, key responsibilities, company culture, and any training that may be required.

Online interview

Remember essential documents: If required, bring multiple copies of your resume, along with any other necessary documents, such as references, certificates, or photographic ID. Follow the steps above, to ensure that you’re ready for any holiday season temp job interview and that you’ll make a positive impression on any prospective employers.

Other ways to stand out during the application process, and get hired

To stand out in the application process and boost your chances of landing a temporary holiday season job in a competitive market, at a busy time of year, consider these strategies.

  1. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application, showcasing your skills and experience relevant to the job you’re going for. Place emphasis on any past festive season roles you’ve held and your ability to work in fast-paced environments.
  2. Showcase a strong focus on providing excellent customer service and fantastic interpersonal skills, as these are highly valued during the festive season.
  3. Already mentioned, but we can’t stress it enough: express your willingness to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends, which is often essential for seasonal roles. This will make you stand out among the other candidates who have applied.
  4. Show genuine enthusiasm for the role – not just for the festive period, but possibly beyond that, as you never know what other opportunities that role might lead to.
  5. Lastly, if you can, follow up with a thank-you note after the interview, to show your appreciation for the time taken to interview you and reinforce your interest in the role.

Why do we keep mentioning being flexible with your availability?

Because, not only are employers looking for team members who can get the job done across the festive period, they’re also looking for people who are willing to work holiday hours. Many businesses are open later than usual over the winter holiday period and may require employees to work early and late shifts, as well as bank holidays and weekends. For example some warehouses will be shipping goods right up until Christmas Day itself, some restaurants may serve Christmas Day dinner, and most shops and restaurants count the day after Christmas and New Years Day as one of their busiest days of the year. So, they need employees who are able to work these shifts.  

How long do winter holiday temp jobs last?

The typical duration of holiday season temp jobs

How long a winter holiday temp job lasts varies greatly depending on the employer, industry, and the specific job role. However, these temporary positions are typically shorter-term roles, designed to meet the increased demand during the festive period. In many cases, holiday temp jobs can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, with the most common duration being somewhere between 4 -12 weeks. Some roles may begin in October or early November and continue throughout December, to cover the entire holiday period, while others may only span a few weeks, leading up to the holiday. Or, by contrast, some roles start as early as the end of August and run into December. Ultimately, the exact duration can vary greatly, based on the employer’s needs and the type of work involved. Always check the specific job description for each role you apply for, and clarify the expected duration during the interview process.  

Can a holiday temp job become permanent?

Can holiday season temp jobs lead to full-time employment

In a word: yes. While holiday temp jobs are initially designed to meet seasonal demands, these positions can often prove to be a valuable stepping stone to long-term employment. If you’re wondering how to make a holiday season temporary job permanent, remember that employers often hire top-performing holiday staff to fill permanent vacancies, recognizing their skills, work ethic, and commitment to the role. If you excel in what is initially a temporary role, then express an interest in staying with the company, you may well find yourself with opportunities for extended or permanent employment, as many companies prioritize those already familiar with their ways of working. So, holiday temp jobs can certainly lead to a more secure and long-lasting career.  

How to increase your chances of turning a seasonal temp job permanent

In looking to make your holiday season temp job permanent, there are a few things you can do to ensure your role lasts well beyond the festive season. Firstly, just make yourself available whenever you possibly can for holiday shifts, as this will show your employer that they can rely on you and that you’re hardworking and committed to the role. This will increase the likelihood of being offered repeat employment and/or a longer-term position. Secondly, throughout your festive shifts make sure you demonstrate your eagerness to learn, and display a positive attitude and an enthusiastic approach to work. Most employers will want to keep an employee with these traits. Next, actively seek out additional responsibilities, showing a willingness to go above and beyond your job description. Also consider that employers look to those who get on well with their fellow colleagues and integrate themselves well into their team. So, look to build good working relationships with other team members, and it’s likely your employer will want you to stay with them. But above all, if you want to increase your chances of turning your holiday season temp job into a permanent role, it’s important to simply be yourself, be professional, and be friendly and helpful. This will ensure that you’re top of the list when your employer is considering candidates in the long term.  

How to get a holiday temp job: in summary

When it comes to looking into how to get a holiday season job, there are a whole host of things you can do to help yourself, as covered in this post, and ensure consistent work (and the consistent income that comes with it) across the festive season. The best thing you can do, in terms of your job search, is start early. Many companies, particularly those in the retail and industrial sectors, start recruiting as early as August or September, but you should still find plenty of opportunities available across October, November, and December. You also need to think about which sector your skills are best suited to, as you’ll have more success in applying for roles you’ve worked in before. For example, if you have a forklift operator’s license, you should very much be focusing your attention on the industrial sector. Flexibility is something to keep in mind, when mentioning your availability to employers.

Seasonal jobs are often available to those willing to work evenings, weekends, and even across the bank holidays themselves. And make sure you’re persistent when it comes to applying for holiday temp jobs. There’s lots of competition out there at this time of year, so you may not get the first role you apply for, or even the second, but you will get one if you keep trying. One thing that will help is making sure that you stand out among all the other candidates, so have a good long think about how you can do that. Finally, don’t just see your holiday season temp job as something fleeting – short-lived. It may well be that what started a 12-week role (or maybe less) leads to something more permanent: a role which you can make a success of.

At Indeed Flex we have countless jobs available throughout the festive season, across the retail, industrial, hospitality, and facilities management sectors, and we aim to help as many people as possible find the holiday temp job that’s right for them.