Tick tock. Tick tock. It’s hard to believe but the race is on to wrap up your holiday shopping. Christmas is in, gulp…. 24 days!

Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season (the jury is still out on whether or not this year’s version was a retail success) but retailers have tons more tricks up their sleeves to make us open our wallets. Take today, Cyber Monday, for example. A dozen or so years ago this daylong internet shopping craze didn’t even exist. The advent of online commerce, however, created the need to capitalize on the Christmas season and compete with in-store purchases.

E-commerce also generated an entirely new category of seasonal hires. Just like traditional stores, these online retailers have products to promote, detail, package, wrap and ship. And, just like traditional stores, they need real bodies to perform these duties. Many of these positions are created and/or added specifically for the holiday season. These seasonal jobs are extremely popular with college students, mothers, and retirees, among others, but hiring the right people for these limited-time gigs can be hit or miss. And that can translate into a hit or miss for your entire holiday selling season.

In early fall, we took a good look at the upcoming holiday hiring season and made some predictions. Now we’re here to test the waters and see how the 2014 seasonal job market is really panning out.

Hypothesis #1 – Shipping and packaging jobs will be hot.

Truth – This has played out according to early predictions. Package delivery giant UPS is still in the midst of a massive hiring blitz where between 90- to 95,000 seasonal employees are coming (or have already come) on board. These jobs are for package sorters, loaders, delivery helpers and drivers and there is long-term growth potential. Amazon is another bigwig that has hired a bunch of warehouse workers to get it through the final holiday push.

Hypothesis #2 – Hourly wages would be more competitive.

Truth – In markets with low unemployment rates and a smaller labor pool like North Dakota, Indiana and Kentucky, this is true. Retailers and restaurants have been forced to shell out at least $10 per hour for seasonal positions to stay competitive. This goes for fast food workers and sales floor personnel.

Hypothesis #3 – Many seasonal jobs can turn into full-time positions.

Truth – It all depends for whom you work. Some companies, like the aforementioned UPS, state clearly that some of their seasonal hires may be kept on once the calendar flips to 2015. Other retailers like Toys R Us and GameStop are equally direct that they are only hiring for the selling season. If you’re still looking for a holiday position, or have recently decided that you want one, this is something to consider as you apply. Do you want something with growth potential or are you strictly searching for something with a deadline?

Hypothesis #4 – This will be a record-breaking hiring season.

Truth – It’s still too early to tell on this one, but the prognosticators are extremely hopeful. More than one article has pointed to this statistic:

 *Retailers are expected to hire more than 800,000 seasonal employees nationwide – the largest projection since 1999, says consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

These figures don’t just apply to stores and e-commerce sites. Plenty of hotels, restaurants, convention centers, and caterers also beef up their staff to handle the holiday rush.

What has your holiday hiring experience been like so far? If you can take a break from filling up  your Cyber Monday shopping cart, we’d love to hear from you; Shoot us a comment below!

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