Despite a down economy, students can expect increases in holiday hiring

Despite a down economy, students can expect to see increases for open positions for the holiday season.

by Megan Nicolai

The holidays may be months away, but preparations are in full swing in the retail world with seasonal hiring.

This year, local and national retailers like Target and MacyâÄôs are increasing the number of seasonal positions.

It was welcome news to University of Minnesota students like Jess Hansen, who are looking to get a cash boost while not in school.

âÄúA lot of college students need the money,âÄù said Hansen, who works seasonally at Einstein Bros. Bagels in her hometown in Wisconsin between semesters at the University.

She said that every season at her job brings a new flood of holiday hires âÄî especially students.

Seasonal hiring generally starts around September. For Target âÄî which beat out projected sales numbers this year âÄî the process will likely run into December and cut close against Christmas, said spokesman Eddie Baeb.

Last year Target hired 92,000 people for their holiday season nationally. Baeb said the company is planning to hire more this year.

According to press releases, MacyâÄôs and KohlâÄôs department stores will also see national hiring increases, with 78,000 and 40,000 new hires, respectively.

But hiring more workers in the current economy is a definite gamble, said George John, an associate dean for Carlson School of ManagementâÄôs marketing department.

âÄúItâÄôs all over the board,âÄù John said. âÄúWhat youâÄôre seeing is individual companies putting down their individual bets.âÄù

For instance, Richfield, Minn.-based electronics retailer Best Buy will cut its holiday staff in half this year. Only 15,000 new employees will be added to the mix âÄî down from 29,000 last year.

But some are projecting better tidings for holiday shopping. The retail industry grew by more than 130 percent in October, and hiring for retail salespeople was up by more than 88 percent, according to a press release by, an online job search engine.

ShopperTrak, a company that provides retail sales analysis, reported $10.7 billion in profits in 2010 Black Friday retail sales.

Paul Timmins, the coordinator of CLA Career Services, said part-time or seasonal work is a great way to help students create a stronger résumé.

âÄúAnything students can to do build their skills will help them in the long run,âÄù Timmins said. âÄúEmployers expect to see that kind of skill building and experience.âÄù

Hansen is hoping the skills she learned in her part-time job will translate to an on-campus job.

âÄúItâÄôs definitely not working with food, but IâÄôve learned a lot about rush orders and time management,âÄù she said. âÄúI think it will help a lot.âÄù