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Hiring seasonal staff.


Meredith Stack


How to find eager, hard-working temps for your busiest time of the year.

Winter is coming, which means it’s time to start ramping-up your seasonal workforce. The sooner you start searching, the better. Research suggests seasonal staff are in hot demand this year. Target is planning to hire 120,000 people for the 2018 holidays. UPS is adding 100,000 people to handle the deluge of online purchases and January returns, and ZipRecruiter reports that its job search engine is seeing more seasonal postings than applicants.

This all suggests that some retailers may come up short in their quest to find the perfect holiday team. With unemployment below four percent and hundreds of thousands of seasonal openings already posted on job boards, companies need a targeted hiring plan to find and lock down these in-demand workers.

Traits of a temp.

Even if companies only need a handful of extra workers for the holiday season, finding, vetting, and onboarding short-term staff can be tricky. Temporary hires can make or break your busiest season so making the right hiring decisions is important. It may be tempting to model your hiring plan based on what’s worked for year-round hires. However, what it takes to succeed in a temporary role is different than what it takes to succeed in a role long-term. So you can’t rely on current staff profiles to choose candidates. Seasonal staff are hired to solve a short-term problem quickly and with great enthusiasm. Whether they will be handling a busy checkout line, answering customer calls, or loading thousands of boxes onto trucks, you want people who are eager to work, who learn quickly, and who can handle the stress of a busy workplace from day one.

You can’t know if a person meets those requirements looking at a resume -- but personality and cognitive assessments do describe a person’s temperament and problem-solving skills. Berke’s pre-employment assessments are used by companies to quickly and objectively assess whether seasonal candidates will be adaptable, sociable, optimistic, and able to problem-solve without a lot of structure and training. Berke also helps companies make faster decisions about who to interview and helps to shorten the hiring process, which is essential when candidates have so many options.

A seasonal hiring plan.

To make the most of holiday hiring companies should start by creating a recruiting plan that outlines whom they want to hire and where they are going to find them.

  1. Define your ideal candidate. Write job postings that outline the traits and experience you want. Be clear about what the applicant will be doing and the hours required. If you sugarcoat what life will be like on the job, you increase the risk that these hires will quit before the season comes to an end.
  2. Customize your assessment. Every position and workplace culture requires a different set of skills and attitude. To get the most value from pre-employment assessments, work with your vendor to create predictive hiring profiles that define the specific personality traits and problem-solving abilities for seasonal employees to be successful on the job, then use assessment profile data to choose the best candidates quickly.
  3. Contact last year’s high performers. Just because someone is seasonal doesn’t mean they won’t be loyal. You former best temporary staff may be eager to return and/or suggest others in their network who will also be a good fit.
  4. Ask employees for referrals. Your current staff knows what life is like on the job, and can help you pre-vet candidates who are likely to be a good fit. Employee referrals are considered a top source of new hires, and they take less time to hire and onboard, making them ideal choices for a busy holiday season.
  5. Review assessment data at the end of the season. When the chaos of the holidays has ended, revisit your seasonal staff’s assessments to see which combination of traits resulted in the highest and lowest performers, and track where you found those candidates. You can use this data to hone next year’s seasonal hiring process and to stay connected with people whom you may want to bring on full time in the future.

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