4. Make it personal. Online applications are often standard fare at big national employers. If possible, an in-person visit to a specific location allows you to meet the store or restaurant manager and is hands-down the best way to get noticed. Be enthusiastic, energetic — spirited, if you will. Dress professionally in case your passing conversation turns into a formal interview.
5. Follow up. It's good business, and good manners, to call or email the person you met, or interviewed with, to say thanks for the time. If there's not an immediate opening, don't be a pest, but try to keep tabs on hiring plans. As customer traffic builds during the fall months, opportunities may pop up unexpectedly. By staying in touch, you position yourself to be top of mind for last-minute hiring decisions. When someone doesn't show up for work, bingo, you'll be a go-to worker in a pinch.
6. Be flexible. You'll have a better chance of getting hired if you're willing to work whenever they need you. Employers are often in the dark about just how many hours of help they'll require until the shopping season really gets going. So be clear that you can come in at a drop of a hat, work weekends and nights (if you can) and are open to tackling many kinds of jobs.
7. Have a future view. It never hurts to let a manager know during an interview that you can also be available at other busy times during the year. For some employers, knowing they only have to go through the hiring and training process once can be an incentive to hire you for now, but with an eye to the future.
Kerry Hannon, AARP's jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.