News Column

Triple Digit Heat? Time To Start Thinking About Holiday Jobs

Aug. 22, 2011

Scott Nishimura

It's still 100 degrees out, but it's time for job seekers who are interested in temporary work in the fall and spring to start trolling.

Employers such as the mammoth Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine are already advertising holiday jobs, taking resumes and running job fairs. Others, such as the major Grapevine video game retailer GameStop, will start in September.

Want to work sooner? Consider the approaching Halloween season. Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, for example, expects to hire 450 people in September and October for its FrightFest.

And income tax services, which annually hire thousands of temporary workers for the peak filing season, are already lining up candidates for fall tax preparation classes.

Shawn Boyer, chief executive of Richmond, Va.-based Snagajob, a leading employment website that specializes in hourly jobs, says job seekers should look now for holiday work. Last year, 47 percent of hiring managers in a Snagajob survey indicated they planned to start holiday hiring in September, Boyer noted.

The firm is gearing up to do this year's survey this month, and Boyer said he expects most companies will have a good idea of their holiday hiring plans by the end of August.

"What we're hearing is that [employers] are going to be at least as aggressive as they were last year, and last year, they were more aggressive," he said.

The wild card: the financial markets' turmoil.

"I'm just not sure what the roller coaster ride has done [to consumer confidence] and what that means for the retailers" and their holiday hiring plans, Boyer said.

Gaylord Texan

The Gaylord is already advertising for 300 box office agents, attraction and retail attendants, supervisors and costumed characters for the annual ICE! exhibit and Lone Star Christmas fete, which open Nov. 11. New this year: costumed characters such as Shrek, from a partnership with DreamWorks.

Typically, the Gaylord hires about 250 for the holidays, but the addition of the characters boosted the total for this year, spokeswoman Martha Neibling said.

Gaylord's holiday hiring fair Thursday drew more than 100 applicants and resulted in 33 on-the-spot job offers, pending background screenings and drug tests, Neibling said.

At 3 p.m. Monday at the hotel's Glass Cactus restaurant, the Gaylord will conduct open auditions for the DreamWorks characters. The Gaylord plans to schedule another job fair Sept. 17 to take in applications for holiday jobs other than characters.

Pay starts at $8.41 per hour for the seasonal employees, with 40-hour-plus weeks for most, Neibling said. Supervisors are paid $11.15 per hour, characters $10 per hour.

Besides the holiday jobs, the Gaylord has 209 open jobs, many connected to its new Paradise Springs pool and river complex, Neibling said. Apply at www.gaylordcareers.com.

Most of the holiday jobs start in late October and run through Jan. 1, and there are opportunities for top performers to stay on after that, she said.

"We always have seasonal [employees] who end up staying and moving into full-time positions," she said.

GameStop

GameStop expects to hire about 19,000 for the holidays, equal to last year, said Mike Buskey, senior vice president of human resources.

That includes three to five employees at each of the 4,500 stores plus 100 people each at the Grapevine distribution center, refurbishment center and headquarters, Buskey said.

GameStop said last week that second-quarter profit fell but that it expects a strong second half, given several titles coming out for the holidays and the PowerUp Rewards program.

"We're really anticipating a good season this fall," Buskey said. "There are a number of key releases coming out this fall. They could be some of the biggest releases we've ever had."

GameStop expects to begin posting seasonal jobs soon. Those interested should drop by a store in early to mid-September, Buskey said. Those interested in the distribution and refurbishment centers or headquarters can drop by those locations or apply online.

GameStop will start hiring seasonal workers in early October, bringing them on board in late October and early November. The jobs could last through late January.

And "historically, we've always had a number of outstanding candidates who go through the holidays and end up as full-time associates," Buskey said. Candidates must be at least 18, and retail experience is "a plus," Buskey said.

Tax preparers

If retail is not your game, Liberty Tax Services is holding a job fair 5 to 7 p.m. today at 2325 S. Stemmons Freeway No. 303 in Lewisville for fall tax preparation classes.

The company says it expects to hire 40,000 tax preparers and other employees at its 3,500 U.S. offices for the upcoming tax season. The jobs are a mix of seasonal and year-round, said Kryssi Contreras, who owns a Liberty franchise in The Colony that has several offices in the region.

Classes start in September, and candidates who pass start work in November. Pay ranges from $7.25 per hour to full-time salaries of $40,000, with commission bonuses, Contreras said.

"You learn so much," she said. "It's good starting ground" for students.

Liberty competitor Jackson Hewitt also expects to launch fall tax preparation classes in September, spokeswoman Melissa Connerton said.

The company expects to hire 26,000 tax preparers for the 2012 season, including 6,000 in Texas, 2,000 of them in Dallas-Fort Worth, a "moderate increase" from last year, she said. Jackson Hewitt has 800 Texas offices, including more than 200 in DFW.

The jobs pay $8-$9 per hour plus a commission bonus. They start in December or early January and run through the third week of April, Connerton said.

"No prior experience necessary," she said. Jackson Hewitt's "course covers basic tax law information." Apply at 800-234-1040 or www.jacksonhewitt.com.

Six Flags

Six Flags Over Texas does little holiday hiring but is looking for 250 people in September and 200 in October for its annual FrightFest, which runs on weekends in October, said Tyrone Taylor, director of administration. That includes food service, rides, security and costume characters, he said.

The park ran auditions this week for 20-25 characters and is taking applications for other jobs at www.sixflagsjobs.com.

Most of the jobs start at minimum wage. Security officers begin at $8-$9 an hour, and performers make $10 per hour, Taylor said.

Boyer, of Snagajob, said job seekers interested in fall work should pay attention to Halloween, a big season for discount stores, drugstores and party centers.

"That's their Christmas," Boyer said.

He notes that "a good number" of holiday jobs go to previous employees.

"And it's not necessarily about the employer reaching out," he said. "I would go ahead now and reach out to them."



Source: (c)2011, Fort Worth Star-Telegram