By Dorothy Tucker

CHICAGO (CBS) — Fourteen million Americans are still looking for jobs – more than 423,000 in the Chicago area alone.

But there’s hope on the horizon. Retailers are beginning to hang out the “for hire” signs for seasonal jobs for the holiday season. Experts predict the number of people hired this year to be about the same as last year – 627,600.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on the kind of positions you can expect to find and what you can do to increase your chances of snagging one of the jobs.

Tina Chaney spent Monday morning at the unemployment office, but Monday night she planned to start looking for a seasonal retail job.

“Clothing stores, shoe stores, right now is a good time to try and get in before the young kids do,” said Chaney.

She hopes to be among the more than 600,000 people retailers are expected to hire for the Christmas season.

Discounters like Target have already started taking applications and plan to hire 10 to 40 people at each store.

“First it would be receiving, stocking. Then it would be sales, floor people and then the people to ring up the sales,” explained Lee Crum, manager at the Target on Elston.

While department stores will make the bulk of the hires, industry experts were reminding job seekers to look at other businesses.

“Shipping companies – like UPS and FEDEX – gear up for the holidays.” said John Challenger, CEO of jobs consultant agency Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Also catering and restaurants do a much bigger business during the holiday season.”

Most seasonal jobs offer salaries of $8.50 to $10.00 an hour. Despite the starting wages, in this economy the competition for jobs is still expected to be fierce.

Challenger said you can give yourself a head start by applying with retailers you know.

“Go to stores where you’re already a frequent customer, where you already know the merchandise,” said Challenger. “Get to that store manager. Don’t just fill out the application.”

Crum offered another tip.

“We do a majority of our business on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So, if you’re not available those times, chances are we won’t entertain your application,” Crum said.

In your job search, don’t forget about the boutiques and the small retailers at area malls.

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