Now that you've officially recycled your Halloween pumpkins, you're probably already seeing "Help Wanted" signs in stores and on job posting sites--small companies and big retailers like Amazon alike need support to handle the huge influx of shoppers and sales that happens during the holiday season. If you have the time in your schedule, taking one of these seasonal jobs is a must, even if you're making great wages or call the shots at your regular job.
1. You'll become a better listener.
Working customer service during the holidays is a classic example of getting in touch with shoppers and learning to really hear what they're saying. But many other types of seasonal work can hone your ability to listen, too. For example, if it's your job to stock multiple shelves in just a few hours, you have to pay careful attention to the directions you're given and quickly grasp the rationale behind the instructions.
2. Your ability to prioritize and communicate needs will improve.
The speed of seasonal work is often insanely fast. Stores might need entire displays put up overnight, for example. Working at such a hectic pace teaches you to see what's truly essential to a promotion, event or general operation for the day. As a bonus, the pace forces you to verbalize those priorities succinctly, as there simply isn't time to waste with ambiguous jargon and fluff.
3. You'll have a chance to brush up your resume and interview skills.
Even though a seasonal job lasts just a few months, you still need to convince a hiring manager you're the right person for the position. You get the opportunity to practice personalizing your resume to fit each company's needs, researching corporations and running through essential (and unexpected) interview questions.
4. Your network can balloon.
Seasonal jobs let you meet not just your boss, but entire teams of people. Each of those people has unique skill sets and stories. You might find that the cashier next to you is a killer programmer, for example, or that the person you're taking online orders with knows some eager investors. As you work, you can promote your business in casual ways and exchange appropriate information, including social media handles.
5. You get an insider's view of operations.
Each company has its own unique infrastructure, culture and goals. Taking a seasonal job allows you to glimpse those elements and compare them to what happens in your own company. What you see can inspire you to make changes and provide meaningful anecdotes about why something does or does not work.
6. Empathy and conflict resolution can go into overdrive.
Both customers and team members can be emotionally hot during the holiday season. Customers are desperately trying to get good deals they think will make friends and family members happy, while workers can be stressed by how much they have to do. To keep things humming, you'll have to pay closer attention to verbal and physical cues about how people are feeling.
Additionally, the spirit of the season often causes people to open up personally as they work together. You learn about your community and have great opportunities to connect others to the resources they need. If you see a need that's not met, you have a legitimate opening to develop a business or volunteer network that can tackle the issue.
Seasonal work might not be particularly glamorous or, admittedly, even that financially lucrative. But it provides benefits that extend far beyond prestige or fat bank accounts. No matter which company catches your eye, just take a role--any role--and grab those advantages. It might just be the best present you could ever give yourself.