How to Hire Seasonal Employees Amidst Low Unemployment Rates

It may seem counterintuitive as we still have a few holidays to go before the retail madness of Black Friday and Christmas ensues, but now is the perfect time to start thinking about hiring seasonal employees.

As you’ve probably noticed, “Christmas creep” is a very real phenomenon, where stockings can be seen hung with care all over your local grocery and retail stores as early as Halloween. Stores are competing earlier and earlier to get their holiday merchandise on the shelves to appease the gift-shoppers of the approaching Christmas season.

However, with unemployment rates at a historic low, it’s also becoming more difficult for retailers to find the holiday help they need during this busy time of year. In fact, unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been in almost half a century, which means there simply isn’t a huge pool of qualified workers to choose from.

Hiring Seasonal Employees

Unfortunately for many businesses, in addition to the decrease of people available to take on seasonal roles, there has also been an increase in the volume of seasonal positions available. Much of that increase can be attributed to online-shopping behemoth Amazon, who has also complicated the situation by raising wages to $15 per hour for Amazon seasonal employees, putting pressure on fellow retail companies to do the same.

As companies deal with low unemployment rates and an increase in holiday positions, recruiting for seasonal help occurs earlier and earlier each year, with better benefits and wages being offered. It can be tough to keep up with this kind of challenging labor market, but it’s certainly not impossible. Here are five things you need to know to make sure you stay ahead of the holiday-hiring curve:

1. Start Early

By getting in there and recruiting early, it is possible to choose from a wider selection of candidates. This is good news because by doing this, it will be possible to choose the best candidates of the bunch. Businesses who wait until the last minute may not only run the risk of not being able to employ enough people, but also of being left with a pool of the least qualified and capable people in the job market.

2. Raise Wages

It’s obvious that raising wages is one great way to draw more attention to your seasonal position listings, but it’s also obvious that many businesses just don’t have the revenue to compete with other big retailers’ seasonal rates. That’s understandable, but even if you can’t match Amazon’s $15-per-hour wage rate, it’s still worth considering raising your seasonal wages higher than you usually set them. You’ll attract more applicants, but you’ll also encourage your seasonal workers from past years to return for the upcoming holiday season.

You also might consider offering more benefits to seasonal workers instead of higher wages. Holiday employees aren’t typically given work benefits because they are temporary hires. But if your company offers benefits such as overtime, a couple of personal days, or a comfortable employee lounge for breaks, you’re likely to stand out amongst the holiday-hiring crowd.

Remember to account for the higher revenue you’ll make during the holiday season and invest some of those additional earnings into recruiting holiday help. If you put that money to good use before you make it, you’ll ensure you have reliable holiday employees to help increase your profits even further.

3. Open a Wide Range of Positions

Competing with companies like Amazon and Target is never going to be easy, but one thing you can do to make your company more attractive during the holidays is open up a wide range of positions.

Instead of just offering contract or temporary work, consider how you can make part- and full-time positions available during the holiday season. Adding a sense of security to a position attracts the job-seekers who aren’t looking to get let go after New Year’s. The wider the range of positions, the more likely your company is to get both applicants searching for temporary work and applicants who want something a little more permanent.

4. Use Social Media to Advertise Holiday Help Positions

Although you should always utilize job boards (especially online) when looking for seasonal employees, there’s no denying that social media is a fantastic place to advertise holiday-help positions.

If your company already has an online presence, share your job advertisements not only on your own timeline or account but in dedicated local job-hunting communities. Your job listings will get a lot more views, allowing you to encourage applications from a wider pool of people and show off what your company has to offer future employees.

5. Get Referrals from Your Current Employees

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of simply asking for referrals from your current staff. Many of them likely know people who would like to make some extra cash over the holidays, and referrals from reliable employees are likely to be just as dependable. These potential employees also might already know a bit about your company just by knowing someone who already works there.

Chances are, you’ll find a good fit if you’re working through employee referrals, considering most employees won’t refer someone they don’t think has the necessary skills for the job, someone they wouldn’t get along with, or someone who might disrupt company culture.

As you begin to hire holiday help, make sure you also conduct background checks to ensure your future seasonal employees are honest and reliable. Here at USAFact, we can help you validate information about job candidates to make sure you make all the right holiday hiring decisions.

Amazon and the likes may have made it tougher for smaller businesses hiring seasonal employees, but there are many ways you can ensure you aren’t left in the lurch. So get started now—it may be spooky season, but the holidays are just around the corner!