YOUNGSTOWN — Opportunities abound for Mahoning Valley residents hoping to make some extra cash this holiday season.
While it's not even Halloween and Christmas is 71 days away, here are some things to consider before you begin that job hunt.
The hourly pay and employee discount that often accompanies seasonal employment come at a cost — namely the least desirable work shifts. The busiest days for retail establishments during the holiday season are Friday through Sunday. Seasonal employees are often required to work Thanksgiving and Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving.
In surveying tenants of Eastwood Mall, Cafaro Co. Director of Corporate Communications Joe Bell said many retailers are struggling to find employees willing to handle the schedule.
"They are looking for workers who are flexible in terms of hours, which is especially important in the holiday season when stores go into extended hours," said Bell. "It's hard to find those people willing to be flexible to fill those voids."
Most establishments also conduct background checks on potential temporary employees. In retail, for example, a theft arrest can disqualify you from getting hired.
Wages for seasonal jobs in the Youngstown area hover between about $8.55 and $15 an hour, but most retail establishments adjust wages based on experience. Some larger retailers like Target in Boardman have signs on doors promoting a $13 an hour wage.
Although Target's advertised wage is higher than competitors, the store was the subject of a report alleging that increased starting wages are accompanied by reduced hours.
But, as in all things, experience matters.
"Seasonal wages are right around $9" for employees of Burlington Coat Factory, said Adam McAnulty, store manager of the Boardman location. "With experience, I pay more, which is why I don't advertise $9."
Retailers agree that so far there has been increased interest in seasonal jobs.
"There's something about this area," said McAnulty. He took over management of the store a week ago.
"My first week I had like 17 interviews. ... I've never seen it in my 21 years that I've been doing this," McAnulty said.
Tommy Jackson, store manager of Hollister in Southern Park Mall, agrees.
"This year is a lot bigger [for hiring] than previous years. I think it's due to other stores closing in the mall," said Jackson.
In addition to wages, there are employee discounts at most retailers that make wages go further, in terms of gift-giving. Plus, seasonal work can be a great way for en employee to get a foot in the door at local retail establishments. Ollie's Bargain Outlet, Hollister and JCPenney are among the stores that also offer opportunities to transition seasonal workers into permanent employees.
People looking to take advantage of these opportunities this holiday season should act fast. Many companies are having job fairs and employee hiring events this week and next week.
Though the events are billed as casual, hiring professionals recommend that interested applicants dress professionally and bring a resume. And it won't hurt if applicants Google the companies they are interested in working for so that they can demonstrate some interest to prospective employers.
At Eastwood Mall, Junior Achievement is sponsoring a college, career and trades conference on Oct. 29 in the old Sears building, Bell said. The session from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be aimed at recruiting local high school students, but the conference will be open to the public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"Amongst all those different businesses with hiring tables will be our mall merchants to take advantage of the opportunity to flesh out the mall's seasonal staff," said Bell.
Other upcoming hiring events:
- JCPenney National Hiring Day at Southern Park Mall and Eastwood Mall, Oct. 15 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Dick's Sporting Goods National Hiring Day at 550 Boardman Poland Rd., Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Hollister Hiring Day at Southern Park Mall, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Things Remembered Seasonal Job Fair at distribution center in North Jackson, Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Burlington Coat Factory Job Fair in Boardman Plaza, Oct. 21
- Macy's National Hiring Day at Southern Park Mall and Eastwood Mall, Oct. 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you are interested in who is paying what, here's a sampling of local retailers that publicize their wages:
- Hollister - $8.55 an hour
- JCPenney - starts at $8.75 an hour
- Burlington's - starts at $9 an hour
- Walmart - $11 an hour
- Things Remembered - between $11.50 and $12.80 an hour
- Target - starts at $13 an hour
- Amazon - starts at $15 an hour