Tech job not enough? Nearly 80% of job seekers will look for a seasonal gig for the holidays, according to a new poll from Monster.

Critically, a majority of respondents (63.3%) have begun the seasonal job hunt, said Vicki Salemi, career expert with Monster. “I was very happy to find out that many job seekers were already looking for work and not waiting until it is closer to the actual holidays. It’s a really good sign and recruiters are pleased about it. In the recent past, if you waited too long, you missed the boat.”

It also makes hirers happy. “More employers are now looking at their seasonal hires more thoroughly,” Salemi said. “And they’re filling those positions now, so if you’re looking for a job look now because the closer we get to the actual holidays, the fewer openings will be available.”

SEE: Why IT pros need soft skills to advance their careers (free PDF) (TechRepublic Premium)

Give a seasonal job hunt the same attention as you would a full-time job, she said. “Treat the [seasonal job] interview as you would any other job, take the same amount of time to prep your resume, and for the actual interview.” All of this makes sense, given that nearly 25% of those polled indicated they hope the job will turn into a permanent one.

While the skills vary and are flexible for seasonal work, Salemi said an element that employers will always look for, and appreciate, are good people skills. “The skill set depends on the job. Take time to search for work and be sure you match the key words in the job description. Always be 100% honest. But, say, if you don’t have the specific requirements of the job, you may have superior interpersonal and other related skills. Highlight those, and tout your excellent work ethic and integrity, which are always coveted skills for any job,” she said.

Stress your 100% commitment to the job and be upfront about the hours you’ll be able to work. “If you work [at your day job] from 9 am to 6 pm, let them know that you’ll be available [for the seasonal job] from 7 pm to 11 pm. There are many jobs for evening events that will work with your schedule. Be honest with them, and be sure to also ask what they expect of you.”

For some, a seasonal job represents the proverbial foot in the door at a favored company. “Smile,” Salemi said. “Be proactive, have an open -minded mindset, consider, ‘Who can I meet?’ ‘What can I learn?’ and ‘How can I make a connection?’ Shine in the job, build a rapport, and if you do want a full-time position there, let them know you will be available when the seasonal gig is over.”

Unsurprisingly, more than half of the poll respondents cited needing extra cash as one of the reasons for wanting a seasonal job, with the aforementioned hope of a permanent position being the second reason. Simply needing to work and taking anything they can get, whenever they get it, was the respondents’ third reason. A considerably smaller percentage (3.3%) said they always do seasonal work annually, and 2.1% said that this was the only time of the year that they worked.

Meanwhile, employers need to be discerning, Salemi said. “The best interview questions are behavioral based, as in ‘tell me about a time when there was an emergency at work, and how you handled it,’ and stress consistency on the job, while also being sure the company treats employees with the same equanimity. Look for evidence of reliability, ask them to illustrate examples of how they dealt with different issues and incidents in a previous job.

As always, “Honesty is the best policy and employers want it back from their hires,” she added. “Job seekers should expect and trust that [hirers] will be looking at you online, at your social media. They may Google you, look for your Instagram. Today there are always ways to find things out. It is best to be upfront, and if you don’t match the job description exactly, say, ‘I may not have that specific skill, but I do have …’ and say you’re a quick learner, ask to shadow someone, ask if there is a program online you can look at, anything you can review to find out as much as you can about the job, and be great at it when you get it. Let them know you are available to opportunities. It’s all about creating opportunities through transparency.”

And if you have any prep for your seasonal gig, which may include reading an online manual or conducting an online training, it is very important to conduct this business on your own time (from your full-time job). Use your personal computer and mobile phone, not an employer’s device.

Whatever your reason for seeking seasonal employ, know that each gig will create opportunities to expand both your network and skill set, while earning a much-needed seasonal paycheck.

Image: iStockphoto/Tero Vesalainen