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The graying of the sales force?

A half-million jobs might be available during the holiday rush -- and older workers are lining up to take them.

By Donna_Freedman Dec 2, 2011 3:55PM
The National Retail Federation estimates that as many as 500,000 temporary jobs will be created during the 2011 holiday season. Such gigs are generally associated with high school and college students.

But don't be surprised if the mall worker who sells you those slippers for your mom is actually Mom's age. This year's holiday jobs are more likely to be snared by older, unemployed Americans, according to The Huffington Post.

Is that fair?

Depends on whom you ask. Students certainly need the money, given how expensive college can be. But bosses may see older workers as more reliable and possessing a better work ethic, according to Carl van Horn of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

"They're not going to be complaining that they're not paid enough," he says, "or that their skills aren't being used."
Possibly that's because they're desperate for any kind of paycheck. Some older Americans have been unemployed for a long time, or have had to resume working after retirement because their existing funds won't stretch far enough.

Got paychecks?

Although it's less likely these days, a seasonal job sometimes segues to a chance at year-round work. Three years ago Andrew Sullivan lost his job at a telecommunications firm. The seasonal job he got as a UPS driver would tide him over temporarily, he figured.

Ultimately it became a full-time driving job that morphed into the supervisory position he now enjoys. "I don't see myself doing anything else," Sullivan told MSNBC.

Even if folding shirts at Old Navy isn't your highest career ambition, temporary holiday work will at least "lessen the noticeable gap in employment on your résumé" and is a temporary break from "the monotony job-seekers face these days," according to an article from MSN Careers.

Obviously the income is a plus, too. It might be tempting to buy Christmas presents with the money. However, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling suggests these tips on how best to use your funds:
  • Bring living expenses current. Housing, utilities and insurance are priorities.
  • Bring secured debts up to date, too. For most people this means a vehicle. If you can't catch up completely on late payments, come up with a payment plan and ask your lender for an extension.
  • Catch up on other debt. Make payments on credit cards to avoid late fees, a lower credit score, and maybe even a judgment or garnishment. Since it's harder to get a new credit card these days, it's important to use your current one well.
  • Fix what's broken. Deal with that funny engine noise or the windowpane currently covered with cardboard. The longer you let problems go on, the more expensive the repairs may become.
  • Save 10% of your earnings. Not easy, but vital. "A well-funded savings account is insurance against financial disaster," says NFCC spokeswoman Gail Cunningham. That's after you've taken care of past-due accounts, of course.
More on MSN Money:
Dec 3, 2011 3:26AM
Good.  I would rather buy product from an older person anyday.  Beats a snotty nosed young brat who acts like its a chore to help you out!  when its their job to help you out!
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