How to get Christmas temping jobs

Don’t the seasons fly by? If you’re thinking of looking for Christmas temp jobs this year, September and October are the time to start applying if you haven’t already.

What are Christmas temping jobs,exactly?

Christmas temping can be great! What it means is that businesses take on temporary workers (“temps”) for the Christmas season, when they’re busier than usual. Christmas temp positions come in many different forms but retail (high street stores) and hospitality (waiting staff, bartenders, baristas etc.) are by far the industries in which it’s most common for businesses to take on extra staff at Christmas. You can also find Christmas temping opportunities with the Post Office, too. The pandemic will clearly affect employment but even with COVID-19 there should still be Christmas temping work available.

I worked as a Christmas temp for a major high street fashion retailer when I was 17. I can’t pretend I loved the work, but it was great experience and the money was better than any other part time job I’d had until then.

Why look for temporary jobs at Christmas in the first place?

Temping is ideal for many people. Perhaps you’re looking for work, and temping will help pay the bills until you land a permanent job. Perhaps you don’t know what you want to do long term yet, but you’re looking to build your CV and grow your skills. Perhaps you’re a freelancer or self-employed and wanting to earn a bit of extra cash to cover the expensive holiday season. Perhaps you’re still at school or uni and wanting to make the most of your time off over the Christmas break to earn some money. Regardless of your reasons, read on to find out the best way to make temping work for you.

When should you start looking for Christmas temping jobs?

The time to get Christmas temp jobs is August through to October. Most businesses will have selected their pool of Christmas temps by November, and many may even have started them working already. Some people have already started Christmas shopping by now, and the main busy season is from Black Friday onwards.

So if you want to get Christmas temp jobs for 2019, start looking immediately!

How to find Christmas temp jobs online

Try typing “Christmas temp jobs + [your city]” into a search engine, or use and filter for temporary jobs.

You can also search by specific store (for example “M&S Christmas temp jobs.”)

Don’t get lazy with your application just because it’s a temp job

Temp jobs get a lot of applicants, but many of the applications are not up to standard. Just because the job is temporary, doesn’t mean that employers aren’t looking for the absolute best candidates! So brush up your CV (remember to personalise it for each job,) take the time to write amazing cover letters, check your spelling and grammar, and follow the application process instructions. If you can do those things, you’re part way there.

Most companies now hire all their staff through online application processes. The days of walking down the high street and handing out CVs in each shop are long, long gone. Occasionally you’ll be asked to do a paper application form, but this is getting rarer. Whatever you do, apply in the way they ask you to! Anything else will get your application tossed in the bin.

Be prepared to work long and sometimes unsociable hours

The nature of temp jobs – mostly retail or hospitality-based – is such that you’ll likely work long hours and probably be on your feet a lot. Wear the most comfortable shoes and clothing you possibly can within the dress code! The hours can also be unsociable. The year that I was a Christmas temp I worked long hours on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, and New Years Eve. It’s unlikely you’ll work Christmas Day or New Years’ Day if you work in retail, but you might if you work in hospitality. Be prepared for this and if there’s a particular day you absolutely cannot be available to work, make it clear upfront. If you’re working in a restaurant, bar or cafe, you might well be working late into the night.

These hours are considered normal and acceptable in Christmas temp work – these are some of the busiest times, after all! The good news is that you’ll usually be paid well for the unsociable hours you do. Check on your job’s policy, but time-and-a-half or even double time for undesirable shifts is common.

Ace the interview

Again, the job might be temporary but employers still want to hire the best people. If you can get past the first selection stage and through the door for an interview, you’re half way there – but the interview is really what your application rests on.

All good interview skills and practices still apply here. Arrive in plenty of time, smartly dressed. Do your research ahead of time and check if the company wants you to prepare anything (one well-known high street store asks all their interviewees to do a five minute presentation on their favourite product from the range!) Be polite and courteous to everyone. Be enthusiastic and play up the best elements of your skills and experience (but always be truthful!) Think of some questions you’re likely to be asked beforehand, and work out what your answers might be.

Get good references

It surprises some people to know that you still need references for temp jobs. But you most likely will, so make sure you’ve got them lined up before you apply.

If you have a previous job, your last line manager should ideally be one of your references. Failing that, a teacher, lecturer or tutor is ideal. You want someone who knows how you work, can look at your skills objectively (so not a friend or family member,) and generally thinks highly of you and will be happy to speak well of you to a potential employer.

Broadly speaking, the skills involved in getting temp jobs are the same as those for getting permanent jobs. Good luck – and do let us know if you follow these instructions and manage to land a seasonal position!

COVID-19 and Christmas temping jobs

Employers know that they have a responsibility for your health and safety if you are working for them. Any employer offering Christmas temping jobs should be working within government guidelines to ensure your workplace is clean and offers sanitary procedures.

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