Christmas jobs: getting one and using it to advance your career

Santas getting dressed

If you're looking for a job, Christmas can be a great time to get work. It can help you gain experience, confidence and of course help to pay the bills.

According to the British Retail Consortium, three quarters of retailers are planning to take on more staff in the run-up to Christmas.

Here's what you should know if all you want for Christmas is work.

1. Seek

Start Quote

To make the most of any temporary position go above and beyond the employer's expectations”

End Quote Hayley Taylor Fairy Jobmother

You don't need to have a grey beard and sit in a grotto to get work over Christmas. There are many potential employers and roles.

Amazon alone plan to recruit 15,000 temporary workers, Royal Mail 21,000.

To find the opportunities you may need to be proactive.

"The cost of advertising positions is astronomical," according to Hayley Taylor, TV's Fairy Jobmother.

"To eliminate these costs the majority of employers advertise Christmas vacancies in the windows of their premises, online and by word of mouth, " she says.

"Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and pay a visit to your local shopping centre. They usually have a bulletin of current vacancies that the stores have available - you will find it at the customer service desk."

You could also try searching for 'casual' jobs on the UK Government's Universal Jobsmatch or Job Centre Online if you're in Northern Ireland.

Other options include temping agencies or job search websites.

2. Get the right CV

Top places to find Christmas work

  • Sorting offices
  • Shops
  • Supermarkets
  • Pubs and bars
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Online delivery companies
  • Cinemas/theatres

As always, your CV is crucial.

For Christmas vacancies adjust it to highlight the skills required for the jobs you're looking at.

You might need a few different versions depending on the line of work you apply for.

Include a covering letter highlighting relevant sections of your CV and other details like your availability.

3. Approaching the company

Daniel Cheek

Daniel Cheek joined Amazon's base at Hemel Hemstead for the run up to Christmas 2012. He was kept on permanently and is now a team lead in the shipping department.

"I worked hard and showed that I was enthusiastic by taking on every opportunity I was offered, whether that was a different task for the day or getting involved with charity and social events" he says.

Bigger companies normally have formal application systems - you might have to fill in an application form either online or by hand.

It's worth taking a walk around your local high street to drop your CV off to as many potential employers as possible.

Dress smartly, ask to speak to a manager and get a contact name for following up afterwards. Sometimes you will be given an on-the-spot interview.

Target shops, hotels and restaurants but don't make it obvious you are handing out lots of CVs to other companies. Hide any other copies of your CV in a bag.

4. Following up the application

If you don't hear back from a company, don't take it personally.

The application might have been lost in the system, especially if it's been delivered to a busy pub or shop.

Give the company a call or pop in to ask if there's any news.

5. Are your benefits affected?

If you're claiming jobseeker's allowance, or any other benefits, these could be affected if you take on temporary employment - depending on the hours you work and how much you earn.

You'll need to let the relevant people know about your change in circumstances.

As soon as the work ends you should be able to start claiming again.

6. Make the most of your experience

Postal workers Royal Mail plan to take on 21,000 temporary staff

Christmas work can give you a chance to gain new transferable skills, meet new people and explore other career options.

The work is often in shifts which can give you time to keep looking for a permanent job.

Before you leave your temporary job, don't forget to ask your employer if they would act as a referee when you apply for other work.

Add the temporary job to your CV, even if you think it doesn't match the type of the work you're looking for.

"For a lot of employers it's better to have some work on a CV rather than a gap," says National Careers Service adviser Julie Clare.

7. Go permanent?

Temporary posts can provide a gateway to longer-term opportunities. Last year Sainsbury's took on 20,000 staff over Christmas, about 2,600 of whom were kept on permanently.

"Go above and beyond the employer's expectations," is the advice from Hayley Taylor.

"Tell them you will cover any additional available hours or staff sickness. Make yourself a real team player, get along with colleagues and who knows, they may keep you on permanently," she says.

Even if you don't get offered a permanent position, don't despair. Hayley says there can still be opportunities.

"If your contract does end, don't be disappointed. They may recall you based on the hard work you have shown and this could lead to additional seasonal work or permanent weekend work."

Finally, don't forget if you're prepared to work on Christmas day you'll usually get extra money.

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