Seasonal Hiring by the Numbers: Positions, Industries and Major Employers

Holiday Shopping BagiStock_000015475220XSmallNow is the time to help clients get seasonal jobs.  Primarily part-time, seasonal jobs can help clients build US work history, confidence and relevant experience.  They can also transition into full time jobs.

Despite slower holiday sales forecasts, retailers are still planning on hiring temporary seasonal staff to help man their stores during the shopping season.

CareerBuilder’s annual survey finds 39% of retail hiring managers will bring on additional temporary workers this year, with 51% planning to pay these workers at least $10 an hour, or more. The hiring number is up from 36% in 2012 and 29% in 2011.

Even better news is that many of these positions could become full time. Nearly half (49%) of U.S. employers who are hiring seasonal workers plan to transition some into full-time, permanent staff. This is up ten percentage points over last year and indicative of a growing trend where employers are test-driving candidates before committing to a long-term hire,” says Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, in a release.

The majority of job openings will stem from the retail sector, but employers in information technology (18%), leisure and hospitality (16%) and financial services (16%) also plan to hire seasonal staff.

Popular positions that companies will be hiring for include customer service (33%), shipping and delivery (18%), inventory management (17%), administrative and clerical (15%), non-retail sales (12%), marketing (9%) and accounting and finance work (6%).

These major retailers all report plans to hire between 17 ,ooo and 77,000 seasonal workers this year:  Walmart, Kohl’s, Toys R Us, Target, Gamestop, Amazon and J.C. Penney.

Read the entire article from which this data was excerpted.


More on Drug Tests and “False Positives” from a Reader

Homer-Simpson-wingnuts-dohI’m so excited that someone wrote a comment on a post – and it’s a very useful one with more tips and specifics from the experience of Brian Bollinger, ED of Friends of Refugees and former Director of Employment Services at World Relief, both in Atlanta, GA.  THANKS BRIAN!:

A-tripla, the main medication Refugees with HIV are prescribed as a retroviral, very often shows up positive as THC.  Thousands of drug testing sites do not have that on their list of prescriptions, often because it would be illegal for the drug testing manufacturer to force an HIV positive person to self identify.  Self identification almost invariably results in rejection if the job relates to the food industry.  That is illegal discrimination, but it  is nearly impossible to prove that was the reason for rejection. Incidentally, it’s a big legal gray area that is a Catch-22, either voluntarily violate your right to privacy or voluntarily forfeit the opportunity to ever get a job (either because you have HIV or because they presume you use drugs).

Ever since the travel ban on HIV-positive Refugees was lifted, we have seen more and more of this happen, and that isn’t likely to change. Getting out in front of it is critical and can include such techniques as bringing in printed articles listing the medication from well-reputed medical resources, or being ready and able to go the long distance with immediate paperwork, follow-up blood tests and such when they fail the first test.

And, just because it makes me laugh, the graphic for a little comic relief!

Refugee Employment in the News

NewspapersThree recent news articles we found from across the country highlight successes and innovations from refugee employment colleagues in three areas of our work that we’re all talking about now:  Mentoring (Lancaster, PA), professional career advancement (Worcester, MA) and organizing a successful employer event (Seattle area, Washington).  You’ve already heard about the Lancaster, PA mentoring program through Higher and will be reading more about the Kent Refugee Employment Summit in the next few weeks.  Positive press coverage really helps raise your visibility with employers and fosters stronger refugee community awareness and integration.

Hearing what works in the field is always valuable.  Please tell us what you’re doing so others can learn from your experience. – Iraqi professor’s path to restarting her career as a computer instructor at the college Wooster, MA – Congolese refugee in Lancaster, PA benefits from mentoring program and studies for GED – Community College and a Diversity Initiative Group sponsored Refugee Employment Sumiit in the Seattle, WA area


Friday Feature: The Price of Silence (Music Video)

This song and music video, produced to raise awareness and funding for Amnesty International, brings together 16 of the worlds top musicians—some of whom have fled oppressive regimes—in a musical plea to guarantee human rights for all.  Amnesty International is a widely recognized name around the world and their website and awareness-raising campaigns are substantive, visually interesting and can help you engage  employers and communities around refugee issues.

Donated by Aterciopelados and arranged by fusion music guru Andres Levin, the track combines the voices of Hugh Masekela, Julieta Venegas, Stephen Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Yungchen Lhamo, Aterciopelados, Yerba Buena, Natacha Atlas, Rachid Taha, Kiran Ahluwalia, Chiwoniso and Emmanual Jal with those of U.S. artists Natalie Merchant, and Chali 2Na of Jurassic 5.  Introduction by Laurence Fishburne.   Learn more about Amnesty’s platform for refugee and migrant rights. and have a great weekend!

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

Celebrate a Social Media Milestone with Higher

Woohoo!  We reached 100 likes on Facebook.  That’s a great milestone to achieve in less than two months.  We take that as a sign that we’re reaching more employment professionals with useful information.

To celebrate, we’ll send a great tote bag made by refugee women from recycled billboards to the next three readers who comment on any of our facebook posts.

If you missed our previous post, read more about Billboard Bags success story.  Thanks to Gisele Nelson for providing the great photos – and to photographer Morgan Blake for taking them.

100 FB like Bag PicMonkey Collage

The Best Resource for Comprehensive Job Development Skills

Job Development Essentials CoverMany social media posts use superlatives that often end up being more hype than substance.  In this case, “best” is a deliberate and valid word choice.  Job Development Essentials:  a guide for job developers is a comprehensive manual for all of the techniques and strategies you need to master.  It really captures the diversity and duality of our roles:

“Whatever the job title – job developer, employment specialist or account exec. – the task of job development involves linking employers with job seekers and job seekers with employers.  Regardless of what they’re called…, all have the same fundamental task:  to find jobs for people who seek them and, in many cases, to help ensure that job seekers remain in the workforce…Certain job developers have the luxury of devoting all of their time to these duties; others juggle a variety of responsibilities.  Acting as the bridge between these two worlds – those of employers and job seekers – is a daunting role…Balancing these competing demands is the art of job development.”

Download this great publication, and companion facilitators guide and trainee workbook here.

Walmart to Offer Full Time Employment with Benefits

SACRAMENTO, USA - SEPTEMBER 13: Walmart shopping cart on SeptembAccording to an article in Forbes magazine, Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, recently announced that 35,000 part-time employees will soon be moved to full-time status, entitling them to full healthcare benefits.

This is great news, but it might mean that some part-time employees – including many of our clients – face reduced hours or lay-offs.  How will you help clients employed at Walmart make a successful transition?

Please let us know about your experiences – successful and otherwise – with Walmart as a refugee employer, provider of work shoes and uniforms or agency partner. 

Higher has a strategy for deepening the partnership between Walmart and refugee employment on a national level – starting with learning more about how this new staffing structure will be implemented.  We need your help to do that.

We’ll start by making sure corporate leadership is aware of the success stories that already exist across the country.  Then, we’ll have a platform to engage in dialogue about how and where to expand that win-win relationship.

Despite a great deal of negative publicity and a rigorous application and interview process, Walmart offers a great entry level job opportunity for many clients who want entry level experience in retail customer service.  Here’s one positive example from the field:

One Texas Walmart went far beyond typical employer efforts to help a refugee employee with complex mental and physical health barriers resulting from the torture and violence he experienced on his journey to the US.  They kept in close touch with his Employment Specialist, who was careful not to compromise client confidentiality while advocating for special consideration.  The Walmart HR and department hiring managers shifted his schedule and responsibilities several times to find a good fit.  They also made some accommodations to call-in, time keeping and break scheduling procedures so he could keep the job.  In the end, it didn’t work, but Walmart actually continued to hire other refugees after that unsuccessful experience.  Many employers have one bad experience and are unwilling to try again.  The same Walmart management also allowed employment staff to sit in on a few interviews to learn how to customize interview preparation for future applicants.  Now, several refugees have been hired at the same store and the Employment Team has stronger information to use when helping other clients try for Walmart jobs.

Friday Feature: Somalis in Maine, by Kim Huisman,

Somalis in Maine Book CoverIn light of recent remarks and media coverage attempting to link the Somali community in the US to events overseas, Somalis in Maine, edited by Kim Huisman, et. al. is timely.  It was recommended  by several people in the refugee social services community in Maine during research for the next issue of Higher’s Newsletter coming out later this year.  I’m still waiting for my copy in the mail, so haven’t read it, yet.

In just a brief visit, it was impossible to miss the community ties Somalis continue to deepen in their new home in Portland and Lewiston.

  • I watched soccer over tea and pastry in a Somali-owned shop in downtown Lewiston established with a small business loan and technical assistance from the StartSmart refugee program of Coastal Enterprise Institute.
  • I bought fresh, organic produce at a farm stand that is a part of training and income generation for Somali farmers in the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at Cultivating Communities.

It’s especially important now to share balanced information about the contributions Somali and all refugees make in the US.  You can read a bit about the Somali community perspective on recent events in this article from the New York Times. It would be great to hear from anyone who has read this book already.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

8 Questions to Help You Generate New Employer Ideas

GLighbulb Stock Photoetting a new population?  Wanting to diversify the employers on your Go To List?  Trying to identify job upgrades for a skilled client?  Hoping to improve your employment outcomes for the new Fiscal Year?

Sometimes you  just run out of ideas, feel frustrated by a lack of success with current prospects and need a fresh approach.  The answers to these questions will generate new ideas targeted to your community and client populations:

  • What industries are growing or declining in your area?
  • Are there new businesses opening or new industries gaining a foothold?
  • What are unemployment and retention rates in key industries in your area?
  • What are the top 10 employers in your area?  Do you work with any of them?
  • Who are your Competitors?  What employers do they work with?
  • What industrial parks, commercial areas or major employer campuses are accessible by public transportation?
  • What might be stirring turnover in an industry right now?  A new business opening?  An upcoming event or festival?  A huge outmigration of part time labor during school breaks?
  • Are there employers in your historic reports or records that you’ve forgotten about?

For even more fresh perspective, consider asking 5 people who don’t work with refugees to tell you where they think you should look for new employers.  Even if you think you’ve done it already and thought of everything, hearing from someone who is thinking outside of your box might generate new ideas.

Preparing for the Arrival of Congolese Refugees

The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) are co-leading a work group to help support resettlement programs and communities as they begin receiving more refugees from Congo.  Higher was invited to participate in this work group along with several state coordinators, health officials, and other stakeholders representing both national and international program perspectives.  Its a great opportunity for Higher to lift up employment as a critical component of successful resettlement.

At the work group’s most recent meeting on September 24, representatives from overseas cultural orientation programs commented on how eager most Congolese are to begin working in the U.S.  One representative expressed that employment is the topic that gets the most questions during their 5-day orientation for refugees preparing to travel to the U.S.   Others expressed an interest in hearing from Congolese refugees who are already established in their new communities.

Let us know if you have a success story to share.  Here are two already posted on ORR’s website in case you are looking for some good examples to share with your community.


Charlotte Sews for Success in the Microenterprise Program


Providing for a Family of Seven


In the coming months, Higher will share more  from the work group and welcomes your insights and ideas from the field to share back to the work group as well!