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Military Spouses May Have the Advantage in Holiday Hiring

Unemployment rates remain high. Analysts paint a grim picture for those seeking short-term jobs during the holiday season.

However, experts said military spouses may have better luck being hired than most.

“A newer trend in some companies is having a military hiring strategy,” said Maryam Morse, national retail rewards practice leader at the Hay Group, a global management consultancy.

Morse encourages spouses to highlight their military moves on their resumes.

Some companies will see this as a positive, as there is a lot of support out there for military families, she said.

Jim Stewart, owner of Express Employment Professionals in Savannah, Ga., agreed that employers may favor military spouses.

“When you see a resume with employment for two to three years, and the candidate has been moving, that’s understandable,” he said. “The average employee these days only stays with a company two to three years anyway.”

Stewart said he has hired military spouses and has been pleased with their work ethic.

“The advantages of hiring military spouses are that they typically come from more diverse backgrounds and they are more adaptable,” he said.

“I find that military spouses are the best group to hire because they are very dependable, they know it’s tough having to move, but they always show up for work on time, and they manage their time well.”

Even with stronger resumes, Morse said the stumbling economy may make for a tough holiday job search. Still, she said, there are “pockets of positive news” if job seekers are willing to look beyond the norm.

Stores such as Kohl’s and Target, which represent value-based customers, continue to hire seasonally, she said. But so do luxury stores where customers continue to purchase big-ticket items.

“In the larger stores, they are doing some great hiring,” Morse said. “Those are great places to start.”

Job seekers may also want to look for positions away from the sales floor.

Higher rates of Internet shopping do not mean the end of holiday hiring, rather just a shift in job locations.

Morse said studies show that increased Internet sales mean logistics and distribution centers will be hiring more workers to pack and ship items behind the scenes.

For example, in Savannah and the surrounding areas, distribution companies are currently “full board on hiring,” Stewart said.

As you search for your perfect seasonal job, Stewart and Morse gave suggestions to stand out from the crowd.

It may just be a short-term position, but you should put as much work into this job search as you would for a full-time job.

“You are going to get as much out of your search as you put into it,” Stewart said.“Treat your search like a job, and you will get one. There are lots of jobs out there.”

He said candidates who are aggressive and ask questions are more attractive in the hiring process. He also highly recommends networking.

“Ask around. Ask your friends who’s hiring. Show up at a store first thing in the morning. Ask for the manager. You need to get to the decision-maker, and don’t ask them for a job — ask what their needs might be. Then highlight your own skills, so you will be viewed as an asset,” he said.

Once you nab an interview, research the company and look the part.

“Think about their customer, their brand and try to represent them as best you can,” he said.

Both Stewart and Morse said the time to apply is now. August and September are the best times to begin a job search. Stewart even said August and September are really the optimal times for beginning the holiday job search.

And, if you are looking for a permanent job, seasonal employment is a great way to start.

“Seasonal employees can get in and understand the customer and company and be accommodating,” Morse said. “That makes you valuable as an employee.”

Often companies prefer to keep temporary employees long after the holidays because full-time employees are too costly.

“Many companies are hiring more on a temporary basis due to concerns with expenses,” Stewart said.

However, never underestimate the importance of good old-fashioned hard work and determination. It may just land you that full-time position.

“If a temporary employee works out great and the employer is pleased with them, many times it can turn into a permanent job,” he said. 

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