Two Opportunities for Job Seekers and Employers This Holiday Season

Consumer confidence is giving a boost to seasonal hiring

Whether ramping up for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, retailers of all kinds are anticipating good tidings from holiday shoppers this season.

The National Retail Federation predicts retail sales in November and December to increase 4.1% from last year, a total of $616.9 billion — the first year-over-year gain greater than 4% since 2011. In response, businesses are planning to hire between 725,000 and 825,000 seasonal retail employees for the holidays.

This is consistent with the general improvement in the labor market we’ve seen throughout the year. October marked the ninth consecutive month-to-month increase of more than 200,000 jobs, the first such streak since 1995. In turn, the unemployment rate is approaching pre-recession levels, dropping to 5.8% this fall. Most importantly, the improving economy is striking a chord with consumers — this October consumer confidence reached its highest level since October 2007.

A strong retail hiring forecast means hiring in other occupations as well. is projecting November and December online sales to total $105 billion. FedEx and UPS each increased their holiday hiring plans from last year to 50,000 and 95,000 seasonal workers respectively and Amazon plans to hire 80,000 seasonal workers at its fulfillment centers across the country.

This influx of jobs presents new opportunities for employers and job seekers. For employers, it’s the chance to connect with a new wave of candidates and for job seekers, a moment to find the perfect seasonal position. Here are two things employers and job seekers need to know this holiday season:

1. Job postings go up before most job seekers are looking

We averaged seasonal retail job search traffic and seasonal retail job postings volume for the 2012 and 2013 holiday seasons. The chart below is normalized from the highest point so the peak is equal to 100. This shows the weekly breakdown of seasonal retail job searches and all seasonal retail job postings.

Seasonal job postings and job searches peak at different times

While seasonal retail postings reach their peak in late October, searches for these jobs don’t reach their peak until two weeks later. As the holiday season continues, postings and searches decline at markedly different rates, with searches dropping off much faster.

Job seekers hoping to have their pick of holiday jobs should start searching earlier in the year, but even for those who start their search later, there are still many opportunities after peak posting time. Employers who want to reach candidates throughout this seasonal job hunting time should optimize their jobs for search so that postings stay high in search results even as they age.

2. Mobile is increasingly important for seasonal job search

Over the years, the share of job seekers searching for seasonal retail jobs on a mobile device has climbed steadily. Through the 2012 holiday season, more than 25% of searches came from a mobile device. This year, the same figure is just over 45%.

Seasonal job search is increasingly mobile

This growth in mobile usage is true across the board, with 50% of people searching for jobs on mobile. Job seekers increasingly use their phones to search and apply to seasonal jobs when and where it’s convenient. Retail employers who make it easy to find and apply to their jobs on mobile have a competitive advantage in reaching these job seekers at the right time.