HR and Recruiting

5 tips for hiring seasonal workers

Written by Michael Hoon

Whether you work for a recreational facility like a ski lodge or are responsible for managing the retail sales push throughout the holidays, seasonal hiring comes with a lot of paperwork, onboarding, and job ad placement. The paperwork associated with the usual hiring process is often magnified by the need to fill several vacancies. When the time comes for a seasonal hiring push, make sure your organization is prepared.

1. Hire more than you think you may need

For large retailers undergoing high volume seasonal hiring, you’ll want to keep tabs on your percentage of drop-offs or “no shows” for candidates who accept a position but do not show up on the first day of work. This phenomenon is inevitable with seasonal employees who don’t anticipate establishing a long-term relationship with their employer. When you know year to year the percentage of drop-off that occurs, you can be better prepared to be fully staffed and not have to scramble last minute.

The longer the timeframe between the job offer acceptance and the first day of actual work, the more likely the number of drop-offs will occur. So if you are planning ahead and hiring months in advance, plan also to hire more employees than you will actually need.  For smaller organizations who may only need to hire a handful of people, keep top-tier candidates close so you can fill a “no-show” vacancy more quickly.

2. Manage candidate and employee expectations

Make sure your offer of employment is clear in its terms. Seasonal workers who anticipate longer-term work or extended employment beyond the seasonal sales rush may become disgruntled if their time with you has an end date. Clearly communicate the timeframe of the offer of employment, as well as the benefits extended to short-term workers. On the other hand, laying the groundwork for repeat seasonal employment is also a good thing if future work is a possibility. Keeping a talent pool of seasonal workers can save you time and money in the future. The key point is to manage employee expectations appropriately and be direct about the likelihood of potential future employment.

3. Streamline your hiring process

How? With technology. Job ad platforms that maximize your job ad visibility can help you gather resumes more quickly and target candidates who may be a good fit. Because job ad technology has become so sophisticated, it can reduce the time you actually need to post an ad, streamlining the process by gathering more candidates to choose from and reducing your overall time to hire.

Once you have all those resumes it is also a good idea to use resume screening software to help narrow your pool to top-tier candidates. This is vital when you are hiring a lot of seasonal workers at once. The lengthiest part of the hiring process should be the interview stage. For long-term planning, it is a good idea to take stock in the off-season to troubleshoot inefficiencies in your hiring process. What lagged this year? Plan accordingly to adjust your strategy for the next seasonal hiring push.

4. Don’t cut corners

Yes, there’s a lot do when hiring seasonally, and you may need to fill vacancies quickly, but you still need to do basic things like conducting background checks. Hiring the wrong candidate can hurt your business and force you to restart the entire cycle. The hiring process for seasonal employees should not deviate from the process you undergo for regular long-term employees. Even though you may be hiring at a higher volume for a seasonal push, you need to maintain your hiring standards and consider short-term workers as integral members of your organization. The short-term worker will be representing your business like any other member.

5. Know and communicate your obligations and theirs

Some seasonal employees may not know what they are entitled to (such as workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, social security), and it is up to you to communicate to short-term workers what legal obligations your organization has to uphold. Laws can change from year to year, so you also need to be clear on how something like health coverage applies to short-term workers (which can depend on the size of your organization).

Beyond legal issues, there are other workplace rules to consider. For example, when establishing a dress code, it can be important to communicate this in writing with short-term workers who may not have time to adjust to any “unwritten rules” that long-term employees know from years of working with your organization.

In summary, be clear and upfront on all aspects of the seasonal job you’re offering, and treat the process like you would any hiring situation. Just because workers may be temporary does not mean they don’t deserve the same benefits and respect as your usual employees. And who knows what gems you might uncover during your hiring process? Your next superstar could be among the seasonal resume pile, so be on the lookout and take care even for these shorter-term jobs.

About the author

Michael Hoon