Key points:

  1. In 2018, the number of Christmas job opportunities is tracking similarly to last year.
  2. Job seekers are searching for opportunities earlier than in the past, with search activity up 14% in August compared with last year.
  3. Job seekers should be proactive. Opportunities tend to disappear in November and businesses finalise their Christmas rosters well before the holidays.

While most Australians are focused on the end of the footy season, Australian retailers are getting ready for the Christmas holidays. So far, the Christmas hiring season is looking strong —  job postings are tracking twice as high as last year as retailers gear up for the biggest shopping season of the year.

To be sure, this robust jump in postings should be viewed with caution. While postings are sharply higher than last year, this doesn’t necessarily mean there will be twice as many opportunities over the Christmas period. It might simply be that businesses are advertising earlier than in previous years. For context, job postings this year are tracking only 9 days ahead of last year but so many jobs are posted daily that this leads to twice as many job postings. For job seekers, there is no time to lose! Now is the perfect time to polish off resumes and start applying for the ideal Christmas job.

For many job seekers, part-time and casual work over Christmas is a way to make pocket money while on holiday. But these jobs, concentrated in retail and hospitality, provide crucial work experience and training. Those who perform well may find themselves employed on a  more permanent basis.

Job searches for Christmas positions were 20% higher in both July and August compared with a year ago, although growth in search activity hasn’t kept pace with the number of opportunities. In each of the past three years, job seekers have begun searching for holiday roles earlier than the year before, perhaps because those looking for work are hoping to get a head start on their peers.

Australian businesses start Christmas recruitment early

Many of the Christmas roles advertised might be casual but there is nothing casual in the way Australian businesses approach the Christmas recruitment season. Many businesses begin hiring in August and the number of job opportunities typically peaks either in September or early October.

Those who believe they can wait until November or December to find a Christmas job should think again. Not only do the number of job opportunities fall rapidly in November and December, but last year businesses finalised their Christmas rosters much earlier than in previous years. Job seekers who procrastinate may be too late!

Line graph titled “Opportunities for Christmas work peak in September and October.” With a vertical axis ranging from 2,000 to 12,000, Indeed tracked the Australian job postings per million job postings along a horizontal axis ranging from January to December with lines representing 2016, 2017, and 2018. Caption added post-publication.

Job searches tend to peak in October and November — a little later than job postings — yet job seekers are increasingly switched on, with search activity picking up earlier than in recent years. Searches in July and August are 20% higher than they were last year and over 70% higher than in 2016.

Line graph titled “Job seekers are searching earlier for Christmas work.” With a vertical axis ranging from 2,000 to 14,000, Indeed tracked the Australian Christmas job searches per million searches along a horizontal axis ranging from January to December with lines representing 2016, 2017, and 2018. Searches in July and August 2018 were 20% higher than they were in 2017 and over 70% higher than in 2016. Caption added post-publication.

Who is hiring?

Most Christmas openings are in the retail sector. Nevertheless, other areas of the economy benefit from higher retail spending, which creates spillover benefits for those businesses. For example, as they snap up toys and clothes, holiday shoppers create opportunities in hospitality. After all, a marathon shopping session requires a well-fed and hydrated shopper!

As always, clothing and jewelry feature prominently among businesses with the highest number of job openings. If that doesn’t take your fancy, outside the top ten, there are also opportunities to partake in holiday camps and productions, as well as limited jobs at theme parks. That might be another advantage to searching early for a Christmas job — you can find something a little different.

Table titled “Retail dominates Christmas opportunities.” Indeed ranked businesses by volume of Christmas job postings as of August 2018. Lovisa was number one. Caption added post-publication.

While it is too early to declare a bumper Christmas recruiting season, the early signs look positive. The number of opportunities are likely to continue to grow daily until late September or early October, giving job seekers a little time to polish their resumes. But don’t wait too long! Jobs are often filled early and postings disappear rapidly throughout November and December.