2018 has been a particularly challenging year for hiring. Employers are finding it harder and harder to find the right job candidates for their open positions now that the demand for workers exceeds the number of people currently unemployed in the workforce. These challenges become even more salient when it comes to seasonal hiring.
Recruiting seasonal workers is already a difficult task thanks to the time crunch involved with hiring a high-volume number of people over a short period of time. Combine this with the fact that, for many companies, this season is one of the most profitable (and therefore most critical) times of the year, and you’ve got a recipe for a deeply formidable hiring process. The already tight labor market only adds to the pressure that employers are accustomed to this time of year.
New challenges call for new strategies for attracting, evaluating, and hiring seasonal workers. Here are a couple of approaches for making your seasonal recruiting efforts a success.
1. Start Early
This is one of the simplest ways to gain an advantage in today’s competitive hiring landscape. You know there’s a pool of seasonal workers out there, but if they’ve already committed to another job before you get a chance to put out your job postings, then you’ve lost out on a bunch of potentially great candidates. The holiday season happens at the same time every year, so it should never be a surprise. Prep your hiring process well in advance and set a schedule so that the season doesn’t pass you by.
2. Use the right sourcing tools
When it comes to sourcing tools like job boards, career fairs, or social recruiting, there’s no one-size fits all for every company. What works for an organization depends a lot on their industry and the role for which they’re hiring. Fortunately seasonal recruiting happens every year, so you should hopefully have some historical data to help guide your sourcing decisions.
Take advantage of your company’s past experiences to be more effective with the sourcing avenues that you choose this year. Which source provided you with the most applicants? Which source provided you with the most hires? Which source provided you with the best quality of candidates? Comb through some of your data to evaluate your past hiring tools and prioritize the ones that brought you the most success last year. Discard the ones that weren’t as effective. Of course this means that you need reliable and consistent data on the success of your hires, so if you aren’t already tracking this information, start now so that you can at least have some data for next year’s hiring season.
3. Rely on employee referrals
Speaking of sourcing tools, one of the most effective ways to source seasonal workers is through employee referrals. Your current employees have a whole network of people who may be great candidates for seasonal roles. If employee referrals have been successful in the past, you may want to implement an employee referral program to incentivize your current staff to recommend people for the role. This can take the form of a bonus or perk if their referral gets hired.
4. Recruit retirees
If you’re in need of more applicants, consider expanding your reach beyond the traditional “workforce.” Retirees are often great candidates for seasonal work because the part-time, temporary nature of the job may actually align really well with what retirees are looking for in a role. Even better, retirees often have fairly flexible schedules, making them a great way to round out your team of seasonal hires. To reach retirees, try posting on specialty job boards and emphasizing in your job descriptions what they might get out of the experience.
5. Be transparent in your job descriptions
Seasonal hiring is a time crunch, so when it comes to your job descriptions, don’t beat around the bush. Be honest and open about the hours and flexibility they can expect, the skills they’ll need, and the opportunity (or lack thereof) for full-time employment. It’s a waste of time for both you and the job seeker to sit through a phone screening and an in-person interview only to find out that a key deciding detail was left out. Being open and upfront helps you screen for the people who will be most aligned with what the job entails, and it will make it easier for you to hire the volume of workers you need within a short period of time.
6. Assess relevant traits efficiently and effectively
When you’re under time pressure, you don’t have that much time to spend interviewing each candidate or analyzing their resume. But you still want to feel secure that your candidates will be reliable, conscientious, hard-working, customer service-oriented, and capable of picking up on training fairly quickly. While you can acquire a vague intuition about your candidates based on a brief interview, pre-employment assessments can provide an objective and predictive measure of their traits and abilities. Pre-employment tests can be brief and unobtrusive in the hiring process, enabling you get an additional piece of information to make a more informed hiring decision. This extra information can also help you prioritize your candidate pool and can help you arrive at faster decisions, making your hiring process a little more efficient during the seasonal hiring crunch.
Seasonal recruiting will always be a challenge because it puts pressure on your hiring team to make fast decisions at volume during a critical time of year. Start early, pursue the sourcing tactics that are most effective for your industry, and speed up the hiring process by targeting and identifying the candidates with the most potential for seasonal work.