This winter break, the availability of seasonal jobs is becoming scarce.

The 2008 holiday season offered 384,000 jobs, which is only half the jobs that were available in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With these staggering numbers and current economic indicators, the 2009 seasonal job market is headed for aggressive competition.

“You have to view this job search as a job itself,” said Shawn Boyer, chief executive for SnagAJob.com.

Because of the already shaky economy, the unemployment rate is at the highest it has been in years. It is now up 9.8 percent from the 7 percent reported last year. Even though September sales for retailers increased this year compared to last, the holiday sales are expected to remain low, according to forecasts from J.C. Penny Co, Macy’s Inc., and Target Corp.

If employers remain hesitant to hire any new employees, the unemployment rate will then be expected to continue its steady increase.

Many job seekers are falling into an intense battle to land a part-time, seasonal job. According to the AP’s retail writer Anne D’ Innocenzio, many businesses feel this could be the lowest spending season in decades because of the decreased number of jobs, hours and available credit.

“I don’t think consumer spending is going to see a substantial uptick,” said Ken Perkins, president of retail research firm Retail Metrics. “Shoppers are concerned about rebuilding their balance sheets.”

With the decrease in spending and the decrease in available income, many are stuck trying to find a leg to stand on. Therefore, the job hunt has undoubtedly become “an employer’s pool” where job seekers are the individuals snooping for work and the employers await their applicants, according to Kevin Fowler, the Tyler Junior College director of Human Resources.

“With more people looking for fewer (available) jobs, it emphasizes the fact that you have to be resourceful and creative,” Boyer said.

Unemployed individuals are encouraged to look for out of the ordinary seasonal jobs, as well as the more typical holiday work. Looking in nontraditional job fields will allow for a broader search range.

For example, many openings arise in childcare facilities, valet parking positions, or even security guards. The classic Santa’s helper, tree farm seller, retail worker, and restaurant wait staff is continuously an active boom during the holiday season.

When looking for a seasonal job, it is important to apply for more than just one at a time. Experts advise to apply in person early and try to be as flexible as possible.

“Know the product. Most seasonal jobs require people who need very little training,” said Tory Johnson in a report for ABC News.

Many employers are looking to keep the seasonal staff on as full-time or hire the same staff the next season, so a good impression is important.

“Employer’s first plan of action is always to call back the crew from last year…” Boyer said. “Employer’s will look at you as a potential long term employee if you express interest in that.”

The few available jobs this winter are going quicker than usual. For seasonal job opportunities in the Tyler area go to http://www.simon.com/mall/malljobs. For other options outside the Tyler area, search on job employment Web sites such as SnagAJob.com or CareerBuilder.com.

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