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Oct 11, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

With fall right around the corner, you can practically smell pumpkin spice and seasonal hiring in the air. Retailers everywhere are putting the finishing touches on sourcing strategies to grab the much-needed workforce to see them through the holidays. The National Retail Federation estimated that over 730,000 jobs were added in 2016 during peak seasonal hiring, that number is expected to grow in the 2017 hiring seasons. To find and capture this preferred type of worker, it’s important to become a master at different tactics.


MultiChannel Masters:

Historically, Macy’s takes the cake on hiring seasonal employees, roughly 80,000 last year, for everything from floor sales to warehouse workers. When dealing with hiring needs of this scale, having interactive mobile tools to quickly capture applicants is a necessity rather than luxury.

So in preparation for the seasonal storm, Macy’s developed microsites to communicated directly with all audiences, which then pushed the target candidate to the right page of their career site.  They also harnessed the fact that most retail workers are looking primarily within their local community, by implementing technology which would identify the site user’s location and then display available positions near them, without a candidate prompt. These tactics are all on top of the retail giant’s successful social media strategy.

Takeaway: Build a microsite to target a particular group of those you’re trying to hire for and give it prominent space on your career sites. Create a budget and allow this budget to be solely used for seasonal hiring. The advertising strategy should be different, and the budget should go towards methods that are attracting seasonal workers and not your typical employee.


Attention Grabbers:

The news that you are hiring should be the worst kept secret of the season, especially in retail environments where customers can be converted to employees. Many out shopping are looking to make a little extra cash to get them through the holidays, and working for a brand, they love as a consumer is an easy transition. Classic in-store signage and creative advertisement on social media pages are effective ways to get this done. There are very few limits to how a sourcing team could harness the brand’s power across all media channels to do this.

Takeaway: Your seasonal hiring tactics should be different than your everyday employee. Be creative and work with your marketing department to have that one seasonal attention grabber that sets you apart from your competitors.


The Early Starters:

Many leaders agree that the best way to hire for the holiday season is to start in the summer. This may leave some scratching their heads, as traditionally, there is a large turner over as summer employees move on for the fall (aka go back to school.) By cultivating a workforce early in the year that either focuses on full-time employees or fewer part-timers with more hours, it becomes easier to recruit a less transient population. These employees, in turn, become more invested and can become a lucrative source of referrals.

Takeaway: Start early. While it may be too late to start early this hiring season — start thinking about summer hiring and hiring for the holidays in the future. It’s never too early to start brainstorming especially if you’re looking to hire in the numbers of Macy’s, Wal-Mart, and other big retailers. If you’re competing against this retailers on a much smaller scale, you want to make sure that you don’t lose talent to larger retailers. Think about being more competitive with the benefits and wage offered.


Sourcing Secrets

Each part-time and seasonal candidate usually has their own set of characteristics, but when sourcing here are some brief things to look for when looking for this type of candidate:

  • Undergrads who are majoring in retail
  • Clubs and groups at local high schools and universities
  • Networks for stage-of life candidates who want part-time work (retirees, parents of young children)
  • Candidates willing to work particular shifts, such as weekends

While our goal with seasonal retail hiring is to fulfill an immediate need, long-term strategy should also be applied. Think of the holiday season as a trial by fire method to acquire top staff to retain throughout the year. After all, if you aren’t looking to retain any of these staff, you will essentially be doing the job twice over as the natural attrition takes its course throughout the year. Taking the time to convert seasonal staff to full-fledged team members can result in huge savings and less sourcing headache.  


This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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