Tips for hiring holiday workers at your small business

Doesn’t it seem as though the holiday season approaches earlier and earlier every year? This year was no exception. If you haven’t started hiring for the busy holiday season yet, the time to start is now. While hiring seasonal workers is much like hiring permanent workers, there are a few differences to consider. For example, holiday hires must already have some knowledge of the job or basic skills, as there isn’t much time to train them. Follow these tips to recruit and hire holiday workers for your small business.

Staff up quickly.

When you need to hire for the holidays, you need to hire fast. A few ideas:

  • Employee referrals. If you have an employee referral program, now is the time to use it (or think about creating one if you don’t). Chances are your employees know people looking for a little extra work during the holiday season. Plus, because they know the company, they also know who would make an ideal cultural fit.
  • College students. They’re young, energetic, have the time and always need cash. Reach out to the local colleges’ career services department or try to organize an on-campus recruiting event.
  • Retirees. Retirees bring extensive work experience to the table, have a solid work ethic and are generally open to flexible work arrangements.
  • Your own customers.These people already know (and love) your products and services and can talk passionately about them. Reach them easily in store, on your website or on social media.
  • Host a job fair. If your need for workers is big enough, hosting an on-site job fair is one of the most efficient ways to get applicants. Spread the word in-store and online, and put up flyers in local coffee shops, community centers and college campuses.

Have a clear job description.

When writing your job description, be very specific about the nature of the job, the type of candidate you are seeking, the skills needed and the responsibilities of the job. Be sure to mention the incentives of the job (i.e. what’s in it for them. See below for more about this.). Clarify that this is a temporary position; however, if there is a chance to turn it into a permanent position, say so.

Sell the job.

Entice would-be applicants to apply by highlighting the benefits of taking on a seasonal job at your company. For instance, do employees get a discount on merchandise? Free snacks? Bonuses? The opportunity to work overtime for extra money? An alluring compensation package is competitive.

Ask the right questions.

For the most part, interviewing seasonal workers isn’t much different than interviewing full-time workers; however, there are a few interview questions that can be of particular importance to find the right workers for your small business. I suggest the following:

  • Why do you want to work with us? Try to get to the motive behind their application. Ideally, you want someone who is passionate about the industry, your brand or what you do, as they will be more engaged in their work and committed to the job.
  • Are you willing and available to work the entire Thanksgiving weekend and right up to – and immediately after – Christmas? Many people take on holiday work only to scoff at the idea of working actual holidays. Be clear from the start what is expected of them. The ideal candidate will show no hesitation at the thought of working on Black Friday, Christmas Eve, and even New Year’s Eve.
  • What do you like most about working in [industry]? This helps you figure out which area of the business the candidate will fit in best. Some people love working with customers while others may prefer more behind-the-scenes work.
  • What did you say to the last customer who became irritated and yelled at you? This exact question may not apply to your business, but asking behavioral interview questions (such as “Name a time when…”) can help you understand how the candidate handles various situations and therefore, what they will be like as an employee.

Treat every candidate with courtesy and respect.

Even if a candidate isn’t the right fit for the job, don’t just blow them off. They could be a promising candidate in the future. Not to mention that, if you provide a poor candidate experience, not only will you lose them as a potential future candidate, you risk losing them as a customer. Let the candidate know as soon as possible if they didn’t get the job, thank them for their interest and invite them to be part of your talent network to be considered for future opportunities.

Stay in touch.

If a seasonal hire proves themselves to be a great employee, try to maintain the relationship. They could come back for another seasonal position or even make a great permanent hire down the line.

Get the tools you need to build your talent pipeline and meet hiring demands quickly. Check out Talent Network from CareerBuilder.


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