Seasonal hiring is tough. With unemployment remaining under 5% and 2.5m more total jobs out there than last year, this market will remain tight through the holiday season. The prepared businesses know this, and unsurprisingly, they already have strong enough strategies in place; many even aimed to conclude seasonal hiring before the end of October.
So what can you do to compete for the temp talent you need? Here’s what a few savvy business owners and leaders had to say.
- Stay Flexible
“Every holiday season, we hire between six and two dozen seasonal employees to help us handle the validation of the coupons we receive for the fourth quarter. Since we first starting doing this in 2009, the type of employee has changed a lot–the economic situation is markedly better now, so attracting talented employees, even on a temporary basis, is now similar to the challenges presented in hiring full-time employees.
If you want the best people for a part-time job, understand their motivation for working is secondary to something else–another job, family commitments, academics, etc., and treat them on a person-by-person basis. Does someone want to be paid daily? No problem. Does someone want the flexibility to give you their schedule the weekend before the workweek? No problem. The more you’re able to focus on the person, and not the position, the better your working relationship is going to be, something critical in such a competitive market.”
This candidate-centric language for part-time jobs is not something you’ll hear every year. Additionally, not everyone can offer this level of flexibility in compensation structure; in fact, some businesses say the key to seasonal hiring is just to keep doing what’s already working – but with more emphasis.
- If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Gene Caballero is co-founder of GreenPal, and in his quest to become Uber for lawn care, he faces many seasonal labor issues. He argues that the key to seasonal hiring is to simply double down on what works, and for him, that’s employee referrals:
“Referrals are the best way to go. Referrals from your “ideal” employees will allow you to vet the work history, work ethic, and cultural fit a lot faster than your standard off-the-street hire. This hiring practice is best for any long-term hires or seasonal hires.”
For other businesses that simply can’t allocate any resources away from serving holiday demand, the best way to deal with seasonal hiring is to actually deal with it as little as possible. Max Robinson, Co-founder of Ace Work Gear, decided that hiring was too time consuming to do in-house, so when faced with the increased seasonal demand, he hired people to hire people:
“Hiring seasonal help is a boring and laborious task, which is why so many businesses avoid it completely. We were reluctant to hire help during the holidays (even though we really needed it) because of this reason. We eventually decided that the best thing for us to do would be to outsource the work to an HR company.
We needed around 7 new staff to join the company for at most 4 weeks, but we knew that hiring these employees would require countless applications, assessments and interviews, which we simply didn’t have time for. We brought on temporary HR contractors to help us manage the influx of applications and candidates that we had to deal with in the run-up to the Christmas period. It was surprisingly affordable, and we even managed to work with a few interns who were happy to gain the experience.
This not only helped us hire seasonal staff faster than we would have been able to achieve on our own, it also helped us to hire better staff, instead of hiring extra bodies who might not have any interest in working for us. We were especially glad that we had help from an HR company when we were hiring seasonal staff, as many of the workers ended up staying with us, which never would have happened if we’d hired people who weren’t the best candidates. It’s important to remember that you should spend a while choosing a good HR company to help you with seasonal hiring.”
- Move your recruitment budget to your training budget
Other businesses have decided to go the quality over quantity route. John Findlay, Co-founder and Program Designer of Launchfire, chose to spend his management resources optimizing training instead of looking for more workers. To him, one great worker could do a better job than two satisfactory workers:
“Seasonal workers handle the holiday rush on the frontline. Yet almost 30% of them don’t receive any training. Without proper training, they can leave customers with a negative experience, hurting your brand’s reputation and potentially losing future sales. Game-based training lets you create bite-sized training modules that can be completed in short bursts. You can offer a variety of mini-games that cover the basic skills and knowledge your new employees need, which also allows employees to add additional skills to their resume.”
- Think out of the box
While the role of training to the success of seasonal hiring can not be underestimated, never forget the recruiting mantra: there’s always another place to find talent. William Bauer, Managing Director of Royce Leather Gifts, decided to look out beyond the common sources for candidates:
“We’ve widened our labor pool by reaching out to programs that foster workplace placement for those with handicaps and ex-cons.”
The seasonal hiring boom crunch is real, and that’s a good thing for the economy. But there’s no silver bullet for staffing up for the holiday rush – all while sustaining your business growth.
Companies that have found success have, in some cases, done it by catering to the candidate’s unique lifestyle needs. Others double down on the historical best performing source of hire. The busy and reluctant organizations look to outsource. And still others find talented diamonds in demographic roughs recruiters don’t always flock to.
Like I said, no silver bullet, but organizations across the country are making it work. What’s your seasonal hiring tip? Share it with @MightyRecruiter, and we might just add it to this article.