5 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Workers this Holiday Season

October 4th, 2018 Posted by Recruiting, Recruiting Tips

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If you’re struggling to fill your retail positions this year, you aren’t alone. Retailers all over the United States are struggling to fill open seasonal sales associate and route driver positions this holiday season. For the first time in a decade, the number of openings have surpassed the number of hires for retail positions for 3 successive months. In fact, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, there are 100,000 more retail positions still unfilled this year over last. 

Here are 5 tips top employers are using to attract talent and compete for retail workers. 

1. Begin hiring holiday workers earlier in the year. 

Be proactive with your holiday hiring this year and start reaching out to existing contacts in your ATS to gauge interest for your open seasonal positions. Hit your ATS contacts with all you got by engaging candidates with text messages, emails and phone calls. 

“Retailers have been aggressively hiring seasonal workers since July to combat the tight job market.” said Andrew Challenger, VP at Chicago based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 

2. Offer significantly more attractive compensation packages for seasonal workers.

Some companies have begun to offer extra perks, but a few more dollars on hourly rates won’t cut it this year. Major firms like Target, have begun to offer paid time off for part time seasonal associates, other retailers are offering pay increases and some are even going so far as to build profit sharing programs into their hiring offers. 

For more ideas on improving your benefits package read this article by Rachel Bolsu of Namely “5 Tips for Building a Robust Benefits Package.” 

3. Stand out by meeting hires halfway. 

During your screening process ask candidates questions about their preferred work style. Take candidate preferences into account when creating their positions. For example, if an associate prefers working at night, primarily in the stockroom, do what you can to accommodate their preferences. Making candidates feel that their needs are considered will help you stand out as a prime employer in their eyes.  

4. Be fast or lose their attention. 

With major firms like Target and UPS announcing that they’ll be hiring over 100,000 seasonal workers each this year the competition for talent is sure to be fierce. Now, your company may not be able to compete on compensation packages which leaves just a few ways for you to get an edge over competitors that offer better pay, better benefits, and greater opportunity. For example, UPS mandates that 35% of their seasonal workers convert into full time employees. 

While you may not have the capital to compete in these areas, you certainly can compete by creating a better candidate experience. Get the edge by using text messaging, live chat and AI to create real time conversations with candidates. Retailers who communicate quickly, create 1 to 1 interactions, and use communication channels retail candidates prefer, such as messaging apps, put themselves miles ahead of the competition.

(A caveat here being that you won’t get the drop on UPS by doing any of this as, they are already avid TextRecruit users.) 

5. Follow best practices of top retail employers and have a backup plan. 

A September survey by Korn Ferry of 20 major U.S. retailers, who account for over 1 million employees, unearthed the following. The survey found that 67% of U.S. retailers are looking to hire at least as many seasonal workers as they did last year. Also, 63% of respondents stated that they are planning on giving existing workers more hours if they are unable to find talent. 

The market for employers is significantly more competitive this year, and last year over 23% of retailers were unable to find the holiday hires they needed. We believe the data suggests it would be prudent to notify your current employees that opportunities will exist for them to pick up more hours this holiday season and to budget for overtime if needed. 

We hope the 5 tips in this guide have sent you well on your way to being prepared to meet this years seasonal hiring challenges. Follow the 5 tips we’ve shared and you’ll be sure to snap talent out of the market place. Worried about finding yourself in a holiday hiring bind? Join our upcoming webinar “Say Goodbye to Hectic Holiday Hiring” for more tactical information on how to make this holiday hiring season, your most fruitful yet. 

Here are the 5 Innovative New Ways to Attract Talent


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