SELLING THE SEASON

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By Stacey Askew

It’s the one gift that can’t be kept past New Year’s.

Sumanjit Multani was given a seasonal job this year, in The Bay’s shoe department, but she doesn’t know how long she’ll be allowed to keep it.

“They gave us a termination date and sort of said, ‘If we want to keep you we’ll let you know,’” Multani, a third year-business management student, said.

During the interview, Multani was not asked whether she would like to stay on past the holidays. She can, however, let her manager know she wants to stay. Those who want to keep a job past the end of their contract can do a few things to make it happen.

“Many seasonal workers do the minimum required to get by. Take initiative, ask for more work when things are slow and let management know that you are interested in staying on after the season is over,” said Roberta Chinsky Matuson, a HR expert and the founder of Human Resource Solutions.

Stores at the Eaton Centre have differing views as to how people get seasonal jobs and ways they decide who stays.

Most stores, however, look for similar qualifications. “We look for people with retail and sales experience because you have to be able to pick it up fast. You get a short time to learn everything and then it’s right into the season,” said Patricia Roberts, assistant manager at Godiva’s.

Godiva’s hired eight seasonal employees this year. If you want to sell chocolate-dipped pineapple after the holiday season, which ends after Valentine’s day at Godiva’s, your customer service skills must be excellent.

Roberts said that after Valentine’s day, they try to keep everyone on unless the employee demonstrated undesirable qualities. If you’re still looking for a job, Matuson has advice on what not to do.

“Before you apply for a seasonal job, make sure you can work for the entire time you will be needed. Don’t apply for a retail job if you can’t work the week before Christmas, which is crunch time,” she said.

An assistant manager at the Body Shop agrees, adding that sales performance is an asset. “Numbers speak louder than words. If you’re pulling in the numbers, obviously we’re going to keep you around,” said Stephanie, who didn’t want her last name published.

Willingness to learn and demonstrating good customer interaction are definite pluses, she added. Some students have not been lucky enough to stay with their employer after the holidays.

Suada Moalin, a third-year nursing student, worked at Aritzia during the holidays, but she was happy to leave the job and wouldn’t go back if she could. “I’d do sales but not merchandising. I know what it means now.”

It meant tagging and shelving products after the store closed, and she didn’t receive a store discount. But she still thinks the job was worth it.

Even if you are fired and forgotten the instant the mistletoe disappears and Santa’s village is packed up, other good things can come from a seasonal job.

Work as a winter camp counselor is only available when school’s out, but most jobs up for grabs before Christmas have more potential for longer positions, Matuson said.

“Seasonal jobs are a great way to make future connections,” she said. “If you are a councillor at an exclusive camp you may get the opportunity to know the parents of campers who may be high-level executives,” she said.

“Treat their kids well and be courteous … (The parents) may invite you to come interview at their company after you graduate.”

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