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Hiring Plans For The Holiday Season Down For 2008, Survey Reports

Despite an 8-point decline from in overall hiring plans, four of 10 hiring managers surveyed said they were increasing hiring plans this year.

While the number of jobs available will be less than last year – and more people are expected to be vying for them, jobs will be available for those who begin looking early, according to a new survey.

The survey of 1,000 American managers who have responsibility for hiring hourly workers finds that each manager, on average, plans on hiring 3.7 seasonal employees, roughly 33 percent less than the 5.6 seasonal workers they each hired during last year’s holiday period.

This figure includes the 57 percent of managers who say they don’t plan on making any hires this year, which is up 8 percentage points from 2007.

Managers who plan to hire at least one hourly holiday worker say they are looking to bring on nine seasonal workers on average, down 20 percent from the 11.2 employees they report having hired last year.

In addition, four in 10 (39%) of hiring managers expect the number of applicants to rise this year over last, with about one half (52%) expecting the number to stay the same. Only nine percent expect fewer applicants.

“While the economy is obviously having an effect on hiring, there are jobs out there,” said Shawn Boyer, CEO of, a Web site for part-time and full-time hourly jobs.

“You just have to be aggressive and use all the tools at your disposal to separate yourself from the crowd, starting off by applying now. Job seekers will have to do their homework, be willing to work flexible hours and go in with a great attitude because that’s what employers most desire," he added.

In fact, the survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, indicates that October is the month that the most employers who are hiring this year will start the hiring process.

Thirty-six percent of those hiring managers will begin looking for workers in October, while a combined 39 percent said they started hiring in August or September. Most managers said they expect to wrap up their hiring duties in November (35%), with some finishing in October (20%) and others hiring as late as December (28%).

Whenever hires will be made, job seekers who previously have worked for a company have a definite advantage in getting hired again. Over one half of the employees that hiring managers expect to hire this year are seasonal workers who worked for them last year.

It is anticipated that 43 percent of seasonal workers will work full-time hours, with the rest working an average of 20 hours a week. The average pay for a seasonal employee is expected to be $10 an hour.

And for those who are interested in turning a seasonal job into something more permanent, the opportunity may be there. Employers expect that almost one half (46%) of the employees they hire over the holidays will continue to work for them into 2009.

“As the survey points out, applying for and getting one of these seasonal jobs is worth the effort,” Boyer said. “Not only can holiday hours be substantial, but if you show you are a hard-working and valuable employee, these jobs open the door for additional future employment into the New Year or for the next holiday season.”

And what are managers who are responsible for hiring holiday workers looking for in an employee?

About a third (34%) agree the most important thing is “a positive attitude and eagerness to have a job.” One quarter (25%) say previous experience in the industry, with the company, or at the specific the location is most important, while a similar number (24%) want a worker who demonstrates the ability to work a desired daily schedule. One in 10 (9%) say they most desire an employee’s commitment to work the entire holiday season, and eight percent say that knowledge of and passion for the company is most important.

Of the nearly six in 10 managers (57%) who don’t plan on hiring this year, the factors for that decision include an expectation that current staff will take on the additional hours or workload (50%), that they have no money to hire additional seasonal workers (29%) and that they expect a slower holiday season this year compared to last (21%).

On the expected outlook for holiday sales this year, less than a quarter (22%) believe this year’s fourth quarter sales will be better than last year, with a similar number (24%) expecting a decline this year. Most (54%) expect a holiday sales season in line with that of 2007.

On behalf of, Ipsos Public Affairs, a third-party research firm, polled a cross-section of 1,006 men and women ages 18+ across the country who are responsible for hiring hourly seasonal employees.

Ample industries represented included: customer service/service, retail, office/business, healthcare, construction, education, non-profit and restaurants, among others.

The online survey was conducted from August 29, 2008 to September 5, 2008. Its results are based on a sample where sampling and weighting are used to ensure that the sample reflects that of the actual American population, according to Census data.

A weighted probability sample of this size, with a 100% response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error would be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population., America’s largest hourly job Web site, has helped connect hourly workers with quality full-time and part-time jobs in a wide range of industries since 2000.

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