Working to make money during the holidays
BY KIP CARLSON – Chemeketa Career Services
Take a look at television or online programming from now through Christmas and you’ll be bombarded with them: commercials pitching every product from new cars to craft kits, diamond earrings to candy kisses.
It’s the holidays, and it seems everyone is out to make a buck.
Why not you?
Chemeketa’s Fall Term officially ends Dec. 13, and the Winter Term doesn’t begin until Jan. 5. That’s three full weeks – minus time spent with family and friends – that students could be socking away some cash for the rest of the school year.
By now, most retailers have hired their seasonal help. However, there’s another option for making money during the academic break: Staffing agencies, also known as temp agencies.
These agencies fill short-term jobs for employers during busy periods or supply workers to fill in for those on vacation.
Staffing agencies keep lists of people interested in working. When an employer calls with a position,
the staffing agency combs its lists for someone whose skills, desired work, and availability are a match. The agency then makes the connection between employer and worker, leading to a few hours or days of work.
There is usually no charge to the worker for registering with a staffing agency.
“It’s not our busiest period, but we work quite a few hours,” Jennifer Butler of Express Employment Professionals said of mid-December to early January. “We’re usually placing, in that period, between 450 and 500 people to work each week.”
Jobs can range from helping on a Christmas tree farm to filling in for office workers. Some positions could require as little as a few hours per week, while some could provide a 40-hour week.
Most jobs will pay at least a bit above minimum wage. Butler said clerical jobs generally start at about $12 an hour.
As for experience, Shana Barrett of SelecTemp said general labor or production jobs might have no prerequisites, while administrative customer service jobs could require good computer skills and some customer service background.
Both Butler and Barrett recommend registering with as many staffing agencies as possible.
“We absolutely work together, and we don’t ever want to stifle someone’s opportunities,” Barrett said. “If we don’t have something, one of my competitors might, and that’s fantastic.”
Yellowpages.com lists nearly 40 staffing agencies in the Salem area; many specialize in one or more areas, such as office work, general labor or medical positions.
Reading an agency’s website can help determine whether it offers the type of work someone is seeking.
Agency websites also let prospec- tive workers know how to register. Some agencies want an online application filled out first, while others ask applicants to come to their office in person.
Students should note what they’ll need to complete their application at each agency. Among the documents requested could be a resume or work history, driver’s license, Social Security number, references with contact information, and a passport.
Beyond that, Barrett said she looked for a few other things. Candidates should dress appropriately for the type of work sought and be certain that their appearance is neat and tidy.
“As far as attitude, the main thing is just an eagerness to work,” Barrett said. “The ones who are really putting themselves out there, willing to do anything, and make it clear they’re just looking to make some holiday cash, are generally the ones who get called first.”
Registering with a staffing agency during the holiday break also can lead to employment for the rest of the year.
“When a student is available for work – maybe they have an open weekend, or a change in their schedule for Winter Term where they’re available for evenings – they just have to give us a call and update us with their schedule, then check in frequently,” Butler said.
For more help finding employment during the holiday break, or at any time, Chemeketa students and alumni are encouraged to make use of Career Services in Bldg. 2-115. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, including the days between terms when Chemeketa is open.