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Ema Ostarcevic, division director in Salt Lake City of placement firm OfficeTeam, says seasonal work may be the foot-in-the-door opportunity that job seekers need.

What are some seasonal jobs in demand locally?

We're seeing a number of opportunities for receptionists/office assistants, where companies will often hire on a temporary basis to help cover the phones and other tasks when fewer people are in the office; customer service and catalog sales, by firms that are very busy during the holidays and assistance to place orders; file clerks/data entry specialists, who are in demand by organizations that need help with year-end paperwork (i.e. benefits/open enrollment) and other business.

What are some tips for landing seasonal work?

Think beyond retail. Most people assume the only seasonal opportunities are in stores and restaurants, but many companies hire temporary workers in November and December to cover for full-time employees who are on vacation or to help handle an increase in demand because of the busy holiday season. The market for seasonal work may be far larger than you realize, so don't limit your options.

What are some next steps?

Begin the process early. Many companies start looking for temporary professionals in October to secure the best people. Target a few companies in which you're interested — whether they're advertising or not. Also, research the market. In addition to scanning Internet job search sites and newspaper ads, ask your network of friends and family about job leads. Then show hiring managers that you have what they want. Companies that hire seasonal professionals want workers who are flexible — shifts may start or end at odd hours, for example, and managers often need people who are willing to go beyond the job description. Also, consider enlisting the help of a temporary staffing firm to complement your other job-hunting efforts. Temporary firms have inside knowledge about who's hiring and can match your skills with the right company and position.

How can an applicant stand out from the competition?

Learn about the company. It sounds basic, but many job seekers fail to thoroughly research prospective employers. Also, show interest and ask questions during an interview by asking questions that demonstrate awareness of the company. For example, "I understand you have a new competitor, the ABC Company. How do you expect that to affect business?"Also, go the extra mile. In a competitive market, a simple touch such as sending a thank-you note after an interview can make a lasting, positive impression with hiring managers.

How can an employee turn a seasonal job into a permanent one?

Job seekers looking to make the transition from temp to full time should start by seeking positions that have the possibility of turning into a permanent role. If you apply for a job working at a Christmas tree farm, chances are you won't be kept on after the holiday season. Treat the job like a full-time position. Make yourself stand out among your peers by showing managers that you are dedicated to your job and are willing to do the extras. This could get you noticed as a real asset to the company.

Dawn House Ema Ostarcevic, executive