How to Hire for the Holidays: 3 Ways to Get it Right

a photo of holiday shoppers in warm hats and gloves

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Consumer spending during the holiday season accounts for an estimated 25 to 40 percent of retailers’ annual revenues. Though less than among other industries, businesses such as restaurants, gas stations, and automobile sellers also see a spike in sales during these final few months of the year. Even in the day and age of online shopping, extra employees are still a business necessity for surviving the holidays. In this post, we’ll tell you how to hire for the holidays.

3 Tips for Hiring for the Holidays

If you need a few simple tips that will aid you in your quest for seasonal labor, look no further:

1. Don’t focus on the fact that these workers are temporary.

Yes, you are hiring employees that are not intended to remain on staff long after January 1st; however, there are good arguments for methodically running through the hiring and selection process as if for a permanent role.

For starters, those looking for work may be doing so to earn money for the holidays or to qualify for a store discount towards their purchases. If this is the case, you may be able to count on them every holiday season.  How wonderful would it be to have a few “regular” callbacks that you could rely on from October to January?

Second, turnover is unpredictable. Let’s pretend that Anne can’t find a job, so she looks for seasonal work to have some sort of income. You hire her and she turns out to be an excellent employee. Derek, one of your best full-time employees, gives his two-week notice halfway through December. Because you took your time in selecting Anne for the position, you now have an easy backfill for Derek’s spot. You have not only ensured a good hire, but you’ve saved thousands, of recruiting dollars in the process.

Third, every hiring manager should know that the number one source of successful hires is through referrals. Great employees typically refer great candidates as people tend to surround themselves with those having similar values and interests. By treating the hiring of temporary help as if they are long-term (i.e. being very selective with who you hire), you may eventually benefit by hiring others through these new workers.

2. Start your holiday hiring and selection process early.

Hopefully, as many retail and service industry businesses do, you have a list of “bench” candidates or part-time workers to choose from. This will provide you with some security before the time comes to advertise for help. Part-time workers are especially convenient as they already know your company and the position you need them to fill.

Depending on the type of company or industry, customers can also be extremely advantageous candidates. Those that know your products because they use them, or understand your business because they frequent it, could make smooth transitions into your workforce. Be sure to process these applicants as you would any other! Not only will this help you avoid potential legal issues, but being a great customer doesn’t always translate to being a great employee. You may find out during the hiring phase that it wasn’t meant to be. These cases need to be handled delicately so you don’t lose the candidate as a customer if at all possible.

If you don’t have a list of potentials to draw from, recruitment should start at least a two months before you anticipate a need. It can take one to two weeks to place an ad and screen resumes, another several weeks to interview and a final week to finalize the process, including running a background check and/or drug screening. Assuming the candidate can start immediately upon acceptance, it is still a three to five week process at a minimum.

3. Plan where to advertise and make the job description specific.

It doesn’t have to cost as much to hire holiday employees as it does for permanent hires. As mentioned above, current customers and employee referrals would be a good place to start looking if you do not have a bench or backup list to begin with. Place “Help Wanted” signs in store windows and in any circulars you run. Let current employees know how to handle customers that inquire about open positions.

When placing ads online or in the newspaper, make sure to be as detailed as possible. Take time before posting the advertisement to nail down exactly what you are looking for in a candidate. Make sure this wish list is relayed in the ad so that you have the best chance for applicants that meet the description. However, don’t shoot for the stars so much so that you end up with no candidates – set your expectations at a realistic level.

Following these simple rules should make life a little easier, not only when winter preparations begin, but also when hiring temporary help at any time during the year. In order to determine if you even need to employ part-time workers, check out this post.

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