By Jessica Dickler
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Holding on to a seasonal job past New Year’s Eve is almost as difficult as keeping all your resolutions.
But Donna Marholz is hoping she will be among those who are lucky enough to land a permanent position next year. After losing her job two years ago, she has been looking for work ever since. She applied for a temporary position at Kohl’s and was hired just for the holiday season.
“I was hoping for a full-time, permanent position,” she said. “I took it because I needed money.”
Marholz lost her home after her unemployment benefits ran out and she could no longer afford the rent. Now Marholz, her husband and three children are staying with a friend in Port Richey, Fla.
Like most seasonal employees, Marholz says she has already let her store manager know that she is interested in holding on to her job after the holidays, but she won’t know until January if she made the cut. But keeping this job is crucial, she says. “It would help to get us back in our own place, knowing I can provide a roof over my kids heads.”
Nineteen-year old Fitzgerald Morris also turned his attention to seasonal opportunities this year. He was hired at the local Target store near his grandparents’ home, where he has been living in Dublin, Calif. He averages about 40 hours a week or more stocking shelves, assisting customers and working at the register.
“I was looking for a full-time job for the longest time but haven’t had any luck,” Morris said. He added that he hopes Target will offer him a full-time position after the New Year. “If this job ends, I am broke.”
Part-time to Full-time: Like many other employees who have picked up seasonal jobs to help make ends meet this year, turning a part-time position into a full-time job — with an annual salary and benefits — is the ultimate Christmas wish.
At least the odds are better for temporary workers this year. In what is already a strong holiday season for stores, retailers have bolstered up their temporary workforce and many employers may make some of those hires permanent.
In fact, about 49% of seasonal hires are expected to stay on after the holidays, according to a recent survey of hiring managers by SnagAJob.com — a job search site that exclusively caters to hourly positions.
“Last year retailers did not have those jobs to offer,” said Gautam Godhwani, chief executive of online job-search engine Simply Hired. “This year, retailers are going to hire more full-time folks.”
Even though the Labor Department reported a decline in retail jobs last month, Robert Brusca, a chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics, explained that the data does not include a majority of the seasonal hiring — which took place at the end of November and into December.
Standing out: According to job posting data by Simply Hired, the number of full-time job openings in retail is up 45% from last year. That means there are a lot more opportunities this year for workers looking for a leg up. Right now, having one foot in the door though a part-time job may be the best way to get noticed.
“Companies are starting to pay more attention to the fact that there are underemployed people within the organization,” said Lois Melbourne, chief executive of Aquire, a workforce planning firm.
As hiring opportunities open up, organizations should look at people who have been hired for interim work, she said. Those are the people who have already been screened and trained, and are invested in the company.
To improve the odds of snagging a full-time job, experts recommend demonstrating a strong work ethic, flexibility and enthusiasm during a seasonal stint.
“First and foremost — you certainly want to see them doing their job well, showing up on time and being a team player,” Godhwani said. Beyond that — it’s the workers that are proactive that will get noticed, he added. Networking with coworkers and managers, taking on additional work, and actively communicating their interest in staying in the company will set them apart.
“If they do that, they will end up being in an entirely different category,” he said. “Employers will reach out to those people first.”
Alternatively, the holiday season also gives workers a chance to determine if that company is a good fit for them, added Amanda Richardson, a senior vice president at SnagAJob.com.
It could turn out that the job is not what they had expected. “It’s a great chance to give your manager and employer a test drive,” she said.