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5 Seasonal Holiday Jobs You Should Definitely Avoid

angry Santa's elves
Joe Peragino

Not all seasonal jobs are created equal. Last week we took a look at some examples of holiday employment that offer good opportunities and benefits; now it’s time to examine what kind of work you should actively avoid this season. 

A seasonal job can be a great way to do the following things:

  • earn cash for the holidays
  • work somewhere temporarily to see if you’d like to work there permanently
  • get your foot in the door with a new company
  • pad your résumé while you’re between full-time jobs

But other seasonal jobs are plainly not worth the frustration, either because they don’t pay enough for your trouble or force you to deal heavily with harried and extremely frustrated people. Here are five seasonal jobs you should probably turn down if you can:

Santa’s Elf/Helper

While the role of Santa Claus can be a fun and lucrative temporary job, being Santa’s helper or an elf is quite the opposite. The elves at Santa’s mall workshop have to deal with cranky kids and parents who don’t want to wait in line, have little respect for elves, and always want another chance to take a better picture. Santa’s helpers tend to make very little money and will likely spend much of their time arguing with parents over a photo that costs far more than their hourly wage. Leave the Santa’s elf job to the high school students who need a résumé starter.

Snow-Removal Driver

On a few days of the year, in the various states where it snows a lot, it can seem like snow removal is the perfect job. Lots of snow means big bucks, right? Not necessarily. This seasonal job isn’t one to bank on because there are rarely full-time positions available and your income is based on unpredictable weather patterns. And even when it does snow, you have to be out of your house and gassed up early in the morning to clear all your clients’ parking lots before business hours. The work can also be quite labor-intensive if you also have to take care of sidewalks, so think twice before deciding to spend your winter moving drifts of snow around.

Taxi Driver

Another driving job that’s more likely to bring you down rather than give you a boost over the holidays is driving a cab. The numbers vary by metropolitan area, but generally a taxi driver doesn’t take home much money. Factor in that the roads are congested and everyone’s in a rush, putting your riders in a poor mood, plus the weather conditions can get hazardous during the winter … and you’re looking at a rather depressing job. The last thing you need after a long day of dealing with traffic is having to pick up that guy who thinks the holidays are the perfect time to tie one on at three in the afternoon, which is what a cab driver is certainly in for this time of year.

Christmas Tree Lot Attendant

It may seem like the perfect low-commitment holiday job, but Christmas tree lot attendant should be at the bottom of your list. If you don’t own the lot, you aren’t going to end up making much money for your efforts. An attendant usually makes minimum wage (or just above) and has to work for tips. Most people are going to haggle over the price of the tree, so you can imagine how they’ll feel about tipping. Beyond that, you’ll be handling trees that will scratch you and get you covered in sap. You’ll have to carry them, lift them and tie them to cars, not to mention all the standing around outside in the snow, sleet and cold. There are warmer, easier jobs that pay better than this.

Airport Helper

If you’ve ever had to fly during the holidays, you can probably guess that getting a holiday job at the airport is about the worst thing imaginable. Frankly, any travel job that involves helping people get from point A to point B during the holiday season isn’t going to be much fun. An airport attendant will spend most of his time trying to help irritated, tired passengers and bearing the brunt of their frustrations. This is not something you want to do for low pay and likely no later opportunity for full-time work. Don’t give yourself a reason to be at the airport every day during the holidays if you don’t have to.

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