Seasonal Work: What It Is And How To Get It

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 10, 2020

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If you’re a student or part-time worker and want to earn a little extra income, a seasonal job may be a good option for you.

If you own a business and find you need a little extra help during certain times of the year, hiring some seasonal employees could help you keep your business running smoothly without draining your budget the rest of the year.

What Is Seasonal Work?

Seasonal work is work that is needed regularly but isn’t required year-round. Companies that have busy seasons or only operate during part of the year hire employees to help them out during these time frames. This way, they get the help they need and don’t have to pay more employees than they need during the rest of the year.

Types of Seasonal Work

There are many types of seasonal work available, so you can find a job that works best for your schedule.

  1. Some companies need to add employees during busy seasons. Most retail stores hire additional stockers, cashiers, salespeople, and even managers during their busy seasons to help them keep up with the extra demand.

    For many businesses, this busy time coincides with the holiday season, but it will be different for some industries. For example, stores that sell swimwear and beach supplies will be busiest during the summer months, while ski shops will be busiest during the winter.

    Service industries such as photographers and caterers who have business all year round may want to hire additional assistants during the spring and summer to help with the increase in graduation parties and weddings.

    Hotels and resorts will typically be swamped during the summer, requiring a much larger staff during these months than they need the rest of the year, and some may have a second busy season during the winter when everyone wants to get away.

    If you do your research and plan it out correctly, you could find a string of temporary jobs that would keep you employed throughout the entire year, especially if you’re willing to travel.

  2. Some organizations need people with different expertise at different times of the year. A few types of businesses stay open all year but change their services from season to season, which means they need to hire employees with the skill sets to match those different services.

    Many construction contracting companies, for example, get more calls for heater and roof repairs and leaking pipes during the winter but have more construction projects during the summer months.

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    As a result, they may hire fewer construction crews during the winter but may need to increase the number of plumbers and HVAC specialists.

  3. Some industries can only operate during certain times of the year. Ski resorts are a prime example of this. They usually hire most of their staff for the winter months and then shut down or significantly reduce their operations for the rest of the year.

    Summer camps also operate this way. Typically, only a handful of employees work at the organization full-time, and then the rest they hire for only the summer months. Some staff members even work for just a few weeks in total.

    These types of jobs are great if you want to try working in a place like Alaska, Hawaii, or Florida so that you can enjoy the unique opportunities they offer. Getting a seasonal job allows you to only commit to being there only a few weeks or months instead of requiring you to move there permanently or quit a year-round job after just a short amount of time.

Advantages of Seasonal Employees for Employers

One of the biggest advantages of hiring a seasonal staff is that you can cover your staffing needs without having to compensate that many employees year-round.

Because they don’t work for you all year, you also don’t usually have to provide your seasonal workers’ insurance benefits. Just make sure you check federal and local laws to see how often you can schedule them without paying for benefits.

In addition to the financial benefits of seasonal staff, the influx of new employees will bring new enthusiasm and perspective to your organization.

To take advantage of this, let your temporary workers know that you want to hear their ideas and feedback and then allow them to share it. This will also help employees feel valued and invested in the organization as a whole.

Laws That Cover Seasonal Employees

The FLSA does cover seasonal employees and requires you, the employer, to pay them at least minimum wage. Some states have a different minimum wage than the federal rate. If this is the case in your state, you’ll need to pay the higher amount.

While there aren’t any limits to the hours your employees who are over the age of 16 can work, you will have to pay them overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week, just as you would for any other employee.

How to Obtain Seasonal Employees

If you’re thinking of hiring some seasonal employees, here are the steps to doing so successfully:

  1. Plan ahead. Before you start listing job openings, calculate how many employees you’re going to need, the positions you’ll need them to cover, and how long you want to have them working for you.

    It is vital to plan this thoroughly. You need to stay within your budget by not hiring more people than you need to and still make sure your workforce is strong enough to cover everything.

    If it isn’t, you’ll have overworked employees that you have to pay overtime, which will quickly become more expensive than it would have been to hire a few more people in the beginning.

  2. Market the open positions as you would for regular jobs. Workers looking for seasonal employment will be looking for those jobs as they would for any year-round position.

    Post your job listings on job board sites, but then try to get creative. Share the openings on LinkedIn and Facebook’s job board. Tell local high schools, colleges, and universities that you’re hiring, as they might be able to direct potential applicants to you.

    You can also work with a temporary employment agency to staff your company. You’ll have to pay the agency a fee, but depending on how many people you need to hire, this method may be cheaper than recruiting and interviewing all of your candidates yourself.

How To Get Seasonal Work

If you’re looking to land a seasonal job, start preparing earlier than you think you need to, and follow these steps to give yourself the best chance possible.

  1. Prepare your resume before you start applying. It’s all too easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to create a good resume.

    Put your resume together a month or two before you need to start applying for jobs (about a month before you want to start working) so that you can complete your applications quickly.

    You’ll want to tailor your resume to reflect the requirements on the job description you’re applying for, but it’s much easier to tweak a polished document than it is to start from scratch.

    Make sure you include any past seasonal positions and contract work that may be relevant to the job you’re applying for, not just your permanent jobs.

  2. Look for connections. Get the word out that you’re going to be looking for a temporary job by telling your friends, family, and business contacts what you’re interested in.

    They might know of a position that’s opening up or be able to put in a good word for you with an employer they know.

  3. Apply quickly and early. Start regularly looking up job postings at least a month before you want to start working. Once you find one you might be interested in, waste no time applying for it to get your application in early.

    Often, these positions fill up quickly, so being one of the first applicants will increase your chances of landing the job.

  4. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself. Give yourself plenty of options by applying to a variety of jobs. You should be at least mildly interested in everything you apply for, but expanding your horizons from your dream job will only increase your chances of getting a position.

    If you do end up getting several job offers, you can always turn down the ones you don’t want. It’s better to have too many options than none at all.

    If you’re struggling to get an interview for a particular job, try applying for a different one that may not be what you were hoping for but will get you the experience you need to move into your ideal position in the future.

    Getting your foot in the door at a company and demonstrating your value as an employee will go farther than you think in helping you get the position you want down the road.

    If you’ve held a seasonal job in the past, you should also consider applying for it again, as your history with the employer can go a long way in helping you get hired again.

  5. Take your interviews seriously. Yes, you may only want to work this particular job to get some extra cash over Christmas break, but you still need to treat your interview as seriously as you would for any position.

    That means:

Tips for Success at Your Seasonal Job

Once you land a seasonal gig, it’s time to make sure you make a good impression with your employer and get as much experience as possible.

This will not only allow you to keep your job and make an impact for the organization you work for, but it will also increase your chances of getting hired again in the future — maybe even as a permanent employee.

To make the most of your seasonal job, treat it like you would a permanent position.

  1. Have a good attitude. Busy seasons are stressful for everyone, so even if you aren’t the most adept at your new responsibilities, having a cheerful and enthusiastic attitude will go a long way in impressing your employer.

    It will also make your work more enjoyable for you and everyone around you, no matter how menial it is.

  2. Be flexible. Often seasonal jobs require coordinating complicated staff schedules to make sure everything is fully covered.

    As a result, it will go a long way if you’re willing to adjust your schedule to help fill in gaps whenever you can.

    If you have multiple jobs at once, work to communicate clearly with both of your employers about scheduling and let them know about any conflicts as early in advance as possible.

  3. Look for ways to expand your skill set. As you go throughout your shift, look for opportunities to ask questions about how the company runs.

    If you see anything you’d be interested in learning or that would be a valuable addition to your skill set, ask to be trained in it.

    A seasonal job is a great way to test drive working in an industry, get a better idea of what opportunities are out there, and even see what you’re good at.

    Just make sure you time your questions correctly so that you don’t overwhelm or annoy an already busy manager.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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