published Friday, November 1st, 2013

Business Bulletin: Watch out for scammers in seasonal job search

By Jim Winsett

Q. I'm looking for a part-time seasonal job to earn some extra income. I have heard, though, there are a number of job scams circulating trying to get sensitive information instead of really offering a job. Does the BBB have any tips on looking for a temporary job this season?

A. It is true that seasonal jobs are a hot topic for scammers to prey on right now, particularly on the Internet. The objective is to gather personal information for Identity Theft fraud, or scam money for services that will not be rendered. But one bright spot and area to consider is the retail sector. Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises job seekers to apply early and research potential employers for the best chance at landing a job that fits their needs.

Wal-Mart recently announced plans to hire up to 55,000 temporary workers for seasonal jobs at its stores and distribution centers. Kohl's says it will hire 50,000 holiday workers, and Toys 'R Us said it could hire 45,000. Amazon expects to hire 70,000 seasonal workers nationally, and it is currently marketing positions locally for their Chattanooga and Cleveland warehouse locations. However, not all retailers are beefing up their hiring, and competition for the jobs is expected to be brisk.

Aside from employment opportunities within the retail sector, delivery companies are looking for staff to help deal with the end-of-year peak in holiday package handling. Catering and floral businesses also look for extra help at this time of year.

Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for people looking for seasonal employment:

• Start now. Retailers begin screening candidates in October, however, seasonal hiring grows through November and December as in-store traffic increases.

• Keep all options open. Do not confine yourself to large retailers and department stores. Smaller stores in malls also take on extra help to deal with the growth in holiday shopping.

• Be resourceful. Register with temp agencies, search online job boards and network through family and friends. Use search engines and social networking sites to find valuable leads using keywords such as "temp" or "seasonal."

• Be prepared. When looking for opportunities at the mall, dress for success and bring resumes with you in case a potential employer wants to interview you right away.

• Be flexible. Full-time employees usually get the first choice of work hours, and holiday jobs usually require working long hours, evenings and weekends.

• Be aware. Scammers will be out trying to entice you with promises of big money for small jobs. Be sure to ask many questions, and go with your gut if something does not feel right. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

Seasonal work provides opportunities for permanent positions, as well as new skills, including multi-tasking, customer service, team work and time management. Even if no full time positions open up in the new year where you are hired over the holidays, monitor the store's website for opportunities and network with your manager.

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.

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