Seasonal jobs go remote, demand specific skills

Where the real remote jobs are, and how to avoid being caught up in a scam

Getting a seasonal job used to mean applying for a temporary sales position at a retail store or a delivery position with a company like FedEx or UPS.

But today, due to advances in technology and more people working and shopping from home due to the pandemic, a greater number of seasonal jobs are going remote. Also different this year—many of these seasonal jobs require specific skills.

Julia Pollak is labor economist at jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter. She tells WorkingNation overall holiday jobs were down to 500,000 this year compared to 750,000 in 2019. But remote seasonal work is up to 120,000 from 50,000 last year.

She says that while retail opportunities surged during October and November of this year, the main area where you can now find remote seasonal work is in tax preparation.

“The major employer there is Intuit with lots and lots and lots of seasonal remote opportunities,” Pollak tells WorkingNation. Prior experience and skills count. Sampling a few ads from the company, here are the job requirements we found:

  • The ideal candidate will have a background in business, finance, accounting, or tax
  • Knowledge of tax laws, tax concepts and familiarity with form 1040 and schedules
  • Minimum 3 season of paid tax preparation experience, with a minimum of 30 tax returns per tax year required.

Other areas where once these remote positions that used to be done in the office are sales and customer service. Many call center jobs now are being done out of people’s homes using their computers and call center software programs.

“Some other remote roles are for recruiters. So, for the retailers and the e-commerce companies that need to boost their numbers, they are looking for recruiters to help them fill positions. Tech support is another field where there are some remote seasonal opportunities,” according to Pollak.

In the case of the IT jobs, those may also be temporary as the number of permanent tech support jobs declined in November, according to latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Impact of the Pandemic

COVID has been a big reason for the increase in remote seasonal employment as people have lost their job or suffered reduced earning opportunities.

Julia Pollak, labor economist, ZipRecruiter (Photo: ZipRecruiter)

“One-hundred percent. So, the technology had existed for a long time. Many jobs arguably could have been done remotely before. But there’s a lot of inertia in the economy and in the labor market, and many companies just continued to do things the way they’d always done them,” Pollak tells WorkingNation.

“Many companies were reluctant to do that even though the technology existed because, especially with younger employees, you don’t have that much training and experience and there is a lack of ‘line of sight’ monitoring employers have always felt was important. Now people are placing those calls from home and many companies are actually experiencing quite a lot of success with that approach. Many are surprised at the productivity and responsibility that people are able to take remotely.”

According to Pollak, remote workers have saved, on average, $2,000 over the past few months because they haven’t had to commute to a job. She adds, the time they have saved has helped make them more productive.

“Of course, this is not a normal environment in which to be doing remote work. So, in a usual year remote work probably would’ve resulted in even larger productivity gains because schools would be operating as normal. So many people are balancing seasonal work with supervising kids who are doing remote schooling. So, it’s a bit more challenging. But even despite the challenges the experience has been so positive in many companies that we see companies taking permanent steps to close or reduce office spaces.”

How to Find Seasonal Work

For those seeking remote seasonal work, Pollak has a few tips.

“When looking for work right now, one is to use the right tools. The internet has now created so many different job boards and many of the job search sites these days have really important features. You want to use a job site that has all the jobs in one place, that enables you to apply with one click once you’ve created your profile.”

Pollak adds that “you want to use a site that picks jobs for you based on your preferences experience and the selections that you make. You want to use a job site that tells you where you stand, whether you are a good match for certain jobs and a bad match for others so that you can conduct a more efficient job search and apply only for those opportunities where you’re a good match that you’re actually likely to get.”

Importantly, you should be using a job search site that helps you to get recruited. So even if you do nothing, if you just create a profile and, and log out, it shows your profile to employers who are looking for people.

“On ZipRecruiter, more than half of candidates within the first month get recruited by an employer. An employer actually reaches out to them and invites them to apply to their job,” according to Pollak.

She also recommends people become savvy users of these sites by using keywords that are particular to the kind of work they are searching for. She says you don’t need to just search for a particular job title or location, but can use ‘flexible’ or ‘remote’ or ‘work-from-home’ to narrow down the kind of jobs one wants.

Avoiding Work-from-Home Scams

Searching for remote seasonal work is not without risk, however. Pollak warns job seekers to be on the lookout for ‘work-from-home’ scams. Avoid jobs that want you to repackage goods.

“In particular, avoid jobs that offer you a lot of money just to receive goods at your home and put them in a new box or wrap them for the holiday season, when you can’t verify the contents, and you’re not allowed to open them all the way. Many of those are jobs involved in smuggling and transporting stolen goods and can land you in a load of trouble.”

“There are also work-from-home call center jobs where the script you’re given to read from might give you pause and make you feel kind of icky because you realize you’re going after a retiree, offering them fraudulent goods and services, or the opportunity to get really rich if they just hand over their credit card number.”

“There are also work-from-home jobs asking people to receive deposits and then make transfers from their bank accounts to other accounts. Some of those are money laundering schemes.”

According to Pollak, if you’re being paid a lot of money to do something that doesn’t require a lot of skill, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.