What Now? Transitioning From Seasonal Jobs

Woman smiling

January can be a tough month.

Especially so for retail workers, who often refer to it as “the season of broken dreams.” The holidays are over, winter is in full swing, and employees who picked up some extra seasonal work — from mall Santas to warehouse elves — are wondering: What now?

If you’re one of the estimated 700,000 workers whose seasonal employment ended, you may be wondering what happens next. The good news is that you actually have lots of options. But first, try to secure a professional reference who can speak to your quality as an employee.

Next, you’ll want an idea of where, and how, to look for your next position.

Moving on up: From seasonal retail jobs to the call center

Call centers often look for people with retail experience, and might be a good place to look for customer service opportunities.

Customer service representatives apply many of the same skills as retail associates, and their hiring managers value retail experience. Bonus: call centers tend to offer more reliable scheduling and better pay — not to mention growth opportunities — compared to brick and mortar retail work.

Although local markets can vary, on average, the long-term prospects for employment are also more promising in customer service than retail.

That means that even if your local call centers aren’t hiring now, you probably won’t have to wait until next December for your next opportunity. Many call centers are already gearing up for their next busy season, and often work with recruiting agencies to assist with high-volume hiring needs. Initiatives such as healthcare insurance enrollment, patient billing cycle and experience improvement, financial fraud protection, rising year-round e-commerce sales and returns mean customers need help.

Moving to the warehouseOf course, customer service isn’t for everyone. If you enjoyed the stocking and logistics aspects of retail more than face-to-face customer service, you could also move “back of house,” to the warehouse.


Did you just get done with a seasonal stint in the warehouse? Consider re-upping.

Warehouse jobs often offer great on-the-job training to help you develop skills necessary to advance your career, and many pay more than retail positions (and are set to raise wages even more, thanks to Amazon’s recent pay hike) and offer good prospects for long-term stability.

With a rise in year-round e-commerce, and traditional retailers embracing online marketplaces, companies need to compete with e-commerce giants like Walmart and Amazon. More orders mean more returns, and employers need just as much help with restocking as they do with fulfillment

If you’re reliable and have a positive attitude, you’ll have the chance to build all kinds of experience that can lead to greater wages, like picking and packing, forklift operation and experience with order-taking software.

Moving from the warehouse to manufacturing and skilled trades

If you’ve already worked in a seasonal warehouse position, you may know that manufacturing workers have experienced greater wage growth recently than any industry other than finance. Third place? Trade and transportation.

By doing a great job in the warehouse and staying through your seasonal contract, you might be able to leverage your most recent reference to look for warehouse/manufacturing hybrid positions with on-the-job training.

With the right mixture of training, networking and hard work, you may find material mover and general labor positions that can help you learn the ropes as a welder, machinist, operator, or other skilled trade, where wage growth is trending upward. The construction industry is experiencing extreme labor shortages, and offers more high-paying, year-round jobs than ever.

No matter what industry you were in, take heart that the current overall job market is in good shape to reabsorb you. With unemployment low and job openings generally available, companies are looking anywhere they can to find employees they can rely on to get the job done.

If you fit that description, it will serve you well in the long run, even if you have to wait for the right opportunity for permanent employment.