While seasonal hiring isn’t limited to the holidays (think summer lifeguards), the winter holidays are most commonly associated with hiring seasonal employees. Seasonal hiring presents a particular challenge to employers. Competition for quality employees is stiff. Onboarding needs to be successful and immediate. If you don’t start training early, seasonal employees are left to sink or swim.
So what seasonal hiring best practices can help your hiring team overcome these challenges? There are a few rules of thumb that will lead you to success during this busy season.
Some major retailers begin the application process for seasonal employees as early as June, especially when the job market is tight. With major players adding tens of thousands of workers each holiday season, a small or medium-sized business has to make sure it’s competitive. If you don’t start advertising seasonal positions early on, you’re going to be behind the ball when the holidays roll around.
If you haven’t begun advertising your seasonal jobs yet, don’t panic. You can still beat out the competition by offering better benefits. What kinds of things do seasonal workers want? Higher wages never hurt, but flexibility tops the list of demands. New apps and sites have made it easy for seasonal applicants to comparison shop, so you need to find a way to stand out. Leverage technology like your applicant tracking system to enable applicants to schedule interviews at their convenience. Make sure you’re able to tell your workers their schedules at least a week in advance. Although these employees won’t stay with you for long, they will affect your bottom line. And a happy employee is a productive one, especially in sales.
Post your seasonal job where it’s most likely to be seen by the kinds of people you’re looking for. College job boards, Craigslist, and Facebook are all good sites to find someone who wants seasonal work. An applicant tracking system like ApplicantStack can make it easier to post jobs to niche sites. You can even track which applicants are coming from which sites to determine your most effective advertising avenue. Unless you need very specific skills or have certain prerequisites, you may want to skip the fee-based job sites. Those tend to be frequented by applicants who are looking for a longer-term career rather than a seasonal job.
Interview In Person.
Or at least on video. When you’re only hiring someone for a few months, attitude matters most. You don’t have time to nurture and teach your seasonal employees to connect with peers and customers. In retail, especially, likability matters. A resume won’t tell you if a candidate is respectful, enthusiastic, confident, and poised. That’s something you need to see to assess. In-person interviews are time-consuming, especially if you’re hiring en masse. ApplicantStack integrates with Google Calendar and Outlook, so you can eliminate scheduling complexities and easily find times that work for everyone. Consider hosting group in-person interviews, or use video interviews instead. Face-to-face interviews are part of seasonal hiring best practices because they yield the best results.
Think Long Term.
Don’t neglect to ask about an applicant’s long-term plans just because he or she is only with you for the season. If you can hire someone year after year, that person will become familiar with your processes. College students, for example, can be a great choice for seasonal hires. They may have the same season off each year for several years. They like knowing that they can count on you to employ them when they’re on break, and you like knowing that your seasonal new hire isn’t completely “new.” If someone might need a seasonal job next year, take that into account during the hiring process.
Be Ready to Go.
Once you’ve sealed the deal with your new hire, get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. Use your applicant tracking software to send and receive the necessary paperwork. Smooth out any wrinkles in your onboarding process. If possible, upload safety and training videos to your new hires’ accounts so they can view them at their convenience. Use a questionnaire to get your employees’ uniform sizes and order them ahead of time. Set yourself – and your new hires – up for success by giving them as much information as they can handle before Day 1.
Seasonal hiring best practices can guide you as you make your hiring choices for the holiday season. Snap decisions are necessary, though, and you’re likely to experience some turnover. Once your employees are on board, don’t neglect them. Employee engagement can help lower those churn rates. Training should be ongoing; offer opportunities for promotion. Who knows? That part-time worker may become a key full-time asset.