Holiday hiring starts up in Madison

Experts say a short shopping season may cut employment short

Published On: Nov 03 2013 11:25:51 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 05 2013 12:26:15 PM CST
Help wanted ad in newspaper
MADISON, Wis. -

'Tis the season for shopping, and many businesses need some extra elves to help.

Shops and restaurants up and down State Street already have "help wanted" signs posted for the holiday rush.

Jerry O'Brien, executive director at the UW Center for Retailing Excellence, said businesses could not make it through this season without additional employees.

"Most retailers, this month makes or breaks the year," O’Brien said.

O’Brien said there is less time to shop this holiday season. With Thanksgiving coming later this year, the time between Black Friday and Christmas is cut short by almost one week. O’Brien said that could have some effect on hiring decisions.

"I think they will hire fewer people. They have less time, so really, just how much can you squeeze in at a time?" O’Brien said. "But also, there’s been a lot of changes in their ability to hire smarter. They're better at measuring when they will be busy."

Janet Johnson with the staffing firm The QTI Group said the number of seasonal jobs in Madison stays pretty steady, running from early to mid-November to the second or third week of January.

"It's critical. If you don't have people who are willing to do the jobs, then obviously, the product doesn't get out the door and it's an economic spiral," Johnson said.

Johnson added the positions are not limited to stocking shelves or other retail and customer service-oriented jobs.

"That's one type, and it's a big type, and it's an important type," Johnson explained, "but there's also other kinds of seasonal work such as the tax season type work. Or there might be seasonal IT type needs that an organization has because of change in technology in their systems at the end of the year."

Their best advice to those looking for additional hours? Remain flexible.

"If you restrict your availability too much, you may not be available when they need you the most," O'Brien said.

"Do what needs to be done and go the extra mile," Johnson said. "Make yourself busy, don't just stand around. Raise your hand if you need something else to do. Stand out. That will give you the next opportunity."