It's mid-September and Starbucks only released pumpkin spice everything a couple of weeks ago, in most of the country the trees are barely starting to turn color, and New York City is expected to reach 85 degrees this week. Fall, in other words, has barely begun.
But that hasn't stopped some of the country's biggest companies from starting to get into the holiday spirit -- or at least holiday preparation mode. Firms that rely on seasonal workers to meet the annual surge in demand, such as Amazon and UPS, have already started massive hiring pushes. Small business owners (and those looking for a holiday gig) need to take note.
Why everyone is getting in the holiday spirit so early this year
This push in hiring isn't due to early cravings for snowy days and mistletoe. As The Hustle pointed out in a recent roundup of firms that are already looking for seasonal help, the reason for the unusually early start is a happy but pragmatic one -- crazy low unemployment.
"The labor market is historically tight -- the unemployment rate is holding steady at an unusually low 3.7 percent -- and many companies are struggling to fill open jobs," noted the newsletter. "The number of job openings has actually exceeded the number of unemployed Americans for the last 17 months, so companies that need to do lots of hiring have to be more proactive than usual to find workers."
That's good news for workers, but a tough challenge for companies looking to hire en masse this holiday season.
Not a behemoth? Post those job ads early.
If giants with as many resources as Amazon are already gearing up to attract scarce holiday workers, it's almost certainly not too early for smaller businesses to start worrying about holiday staffing too.
"The biggest concern facing small businesses going into the holiday season and the new year is finding qualified employees for the positions they've created," National Federation of Independent Businesses CEO Juanita D. Duggan commented.
Smaller businesses can't afford to wait and let the whales of the marketplace swallow up all available talent, but hiring site Monster suggests there are also other ways businesses can compete. These include using tech to get by with less extra help, luring candidates with video, tailoring positions to the people you can find, and simply being less picky about whom you hire (Monster diplomatically phrases this as hiring "high potential" rather than "highly qualified" candidates). Read more about these strategies here.
If you're hoping to be on the other side of the hiring desk and pick up some additional work this holiday season, you aren't short of options, but the time to start looking is now. Here's a rundown of some of the companies that are already hiring and how many people they're looking to add this holiday season:
Target: 130,000 jobs
UPS: 100,000 jobs
1-800-FLOWERS.COM: more than 8,000 jobs
Kohls: 2,500 jobs
Wendy's: 20,000 jobs (this hiring push may be more linked to the company's new breakfast offerings than the holiday rush)