Every holiday season between October and December, retailers hire hundreds of thousands of people, only to lay them off after the season is over. For the majority, they will only work for those few months, but for a special few this can be a long-term opportunity. Many employers are now hiring on a seasonal or temporary basis as common practice. Managers will tell you that you have a one percent chance of getting hired, but the truth is that no good manager would ever allow someone with the right characteristics to walk out the door and go work for a competitor. You may be wondering how I know all of this information, right? Well, I am one of the few who crossed the threshold to the long-term employment side. I am the girl who went from seasonal hire to hiring manager in less than two years. I am now in charge of hiring over four hundred seasonal team members and selecting a handful that receive long term offers. Today, I want to share my journey with you all.
A few years ago, I had just quit my job to help my then husband sell insurance. Quitting was easy. I hated my job as an administrative assistant at the time and I knew it was time to move on. With entering into a new marriage, I now realize that I should have probably hung on a little longer to that job to build a foundation for myself and future plans.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that selling insurance was not for me. Even more jarring than the fact that the job killed a part of my soul, was the fact that my ex and I were working on a commission that was far from what we needed. The bills were piling up and we were tired of asking our family and friends for help, which is a sentiment I’m sure they shared. If we were going to survive, I needed a job that paid on a consistent basis.
In hopes of finding a dream job that fit my characteristics, I hit the ground running. I had some retail management experience and the holiday season seemed like a great place to start. At the time, my biggest dream was to own an online store. I thought if I could only get my foot in at an online store, I would be able to work my way to the top. The only problem was that the distribution centers for many online stores were not located in the NYC area.
One day, I stumbled onto a job posting for a seasonal position at an online store located right here in Brooklyn. By the time I saw the posting, I had applied to numerous jobs and I had even started working part-time for another retailer. I knew that it was the opportunity I was waiting for and I had to go for it. So I did.
I nailed the interview, received an offer, and started in a seasonal position that was supposed to end in late December. I actually remember tweeting something to the effect of “Easiest takeover ever” after a week or so on the job. I just knew that there was opportunity there and I was going to take full advantage of it.
Fast forward three years later and I’m going into my second holiday season as a hiring and project manager. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I did it. I am confident that if I can speak a goal into existence, then so can you. Here are five personal take-away tips for transitioning from a seasonal hire to a manager:
1. Have a vision
Not only did I want to be a manager long before joining the team, but I also wanted to run the company. That may sound naïve but if I didn’t envision myself there, I wouldn’t have made it onto the management team. As the famous saying by Brian Littrell goes: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” It’s the truth. I had complete belief in myself. Without that vision and belief in yourself, no one else will see you in that position. As you start your seasonal position, begin to envision yourself as much more than a short-term employee.
2. Ignore the cynics and the critics
As the hiring manager it’s my job to ensure that no one believes they have a chance to get a long-term offer. It’s about managing expectations. Expect opportunities to be played down and expect people to tell you that you don’t have a chance. Focus on your own vision. Whenever you have a vision or goal for yourself, you will find people willing to invest a lot of time in telling you why it won’t happen for you because it didn’t happen for them. I was probably one of the last people hired into my role that holiday season. All of my peers had months or years of experience over me and many were very cynical about growth opportunities as well as critical of my work. I had the upper hand in my response because I chose to simply ignore all of it.
3. Find mentors and make connections
The holiday season is a very short time period. Instead of focusing on the critics and the cynics, channel your focus on making connections. My hiring manager actually took an interest in me from the first day we met during my interview. He invested the time in teaching me how to run an operation from the inside out. He acted as my mentor for months by challenging me to learn the ropes in just a few short months. While learning the ropes I also made a valiant effort to introduce myself to as many people as possible on the management team. Before I knew it, I had a mentor and made connections with as many key players as I could meet. The decision to bring you on board won’t be made by one person; the entire management team is more than likely going to discuss it. You want to have a mentor that will make your case, but you want to interact with many members of the management so that there is one more person to vouch for your character.
4. Make your presence known
You want to take your connections a step further by adding value. You can’t just go around shaking hands and expect an instant connection each time. People will want to know what you can bring to the table. Your presence should add value to the team. Use your critical thinking skills, make suggestions and make improvements. I almost immediately added improvements to all of my job responsibilities. For instance, I remember staying late and leaving early. I did whatever it took to ensure that I stood out. Keep in mind that the more you stand out, the better your chances of a long-term offer.
5. Deliver and work hard
As you begin to set yourself a part, opportunities will land at your feet. Deliver! I can’t stress how important it is to deliver your full potential on any project. This isn’t the time for excuses and failure is not aligned with your overall vision. I remember being approached to train team members and feeling completely unprepared, but I did not allow that stop me. I went for it, spent the time to prepare and nailed it! This long-term offer will not be handed to you, so you must be prepared to work hard!
In order to transition from a seasonal hire to a long-term offer, you must go in with a strategy. Not only a game plan to make it up the corporate ladder, but a concept that motivates you to do better each day. When you have a clear vision of what you want, it radiates through you and is transparent to others. Keep these five tips in mind when working with your new job and great results will come your way!