Flexibility, pay and perks part of 2021 holiday hiring season under COVID-19 pandemic

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Retailers at Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose are starting to staff up for the 2021 holiday season. It will be the second under the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Now Hiring" signs hang like holiday decorations around the mall, as the effort to hire seasonal workers is underway.

Kate Diefenderfer with Valley Fair explained, "Whether it's part-time, full-time, seasonal... If you're a student. We are open 7 days a week and many hours beyond the 9 to 5."

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For the 40 retailers and restaurants recruiting at an indoor job fair on Wednesday, it was that flexibility, pay and other perks attracting applicants. Retailers searching for employees shared incentives surrounding employee discounts and signing bonuses.

"I definitely wouldn't consider this if I wasn't vaccinated," San Jose resident Steven Alvarado told ABC7 News.

Alvarado was one of several who attended the job fair, in search of new employment. While he admitted the on-going pandemic is keeping him on guard, Alvarado said he wants to keep his options open.

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"Working from home would be my like ideal situation, but I just wanted to put out feelers and see if there was anything I felt like would be both interesting, but also safe," he said.

Different from last year's holiday season, Diefenderfer said Valley Fair added 90 new retailers. Among the new storefronts is Virtual Science Center.

Museum tour manager Heather Birchell said since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, she's noticed more people are willing to leave their homes.

"There are challenges, but we have done everything we can to put health and safety first," Birchell said. "We have asked that all our staff are vaccinated. That's really a requirement."

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Birchell said the Virtual Science Center is looking to hire up to four people to help support the current staff of ten.

At iChina, the new two-story, 13,000-square-foot restaurant, between 35 and 85 employees are needed. The search is in line with what retailers are calling a worker shortage as the state races to return to "normal."

"All we can do is stand fast by our morals and our values and try to bring in the right type of people to join the culture of our company," iChina Corporate Executive Chef Eddie Lam told ABC7 News. "We will do our part to make sure that everyone feels safe in the environment. And you know, it's still a merry place."

"Life goes on, as long as we are mindful of our environment," Lam added.

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Valley Fair retailers continue to search for people willing to work in-person during the always busy holiday season.

"That's when the spikes happen for cronavirus as well," Alvarado said. "So, it really makes you think twice about... should I be doing this for this amount of money?"

Hiring managers certainly hope so.

If you're looking for employment opportunities at Valley Fair, click here.

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