Tis (almost) the season for seasonal hiring. Yet another variety of volume recruitment that companies depend on to ensure both sales and productivity align with the market demands. From the traditional festive seasons through to graduate recruitment drives in September, seasonal events come and go — and so does talent. With a necessarily high turnover, the retail, hospitality, tourism, logistics and media sectors present the top four most pressured industries for talent attraction during the holidays. Indeed, 21.6% of all retail activity in 2018 took place in the month of November — a figure which is attributed to the mix of festivities from Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
So the need to hire is certainly timely. However, the volume recruitment demand created by the festive period presents many challenges to the recruitment process that continue to persist every year.
Seasonal work, similar to the work available in the broader gig economy, is being turbocharged by technology. Mobile apps allow candidates to view open positions, as well as determine when and where the employer needs it done. Compensation is explicitly stated, and comparison shopping for jobs is now the norm and not just a luxury for candidates. Despite this, the unrest in the recruiting space generated by seasonal demand in some sectors is not unlike the chaos seen during the Black Friday sales — without a plan you could be harming your employer brand.
According to Career Arc, 65% of candidates never, or rarely, hear back from a company after an application. These same candidates (unsurprisingly!) are significantly less likely to re-apply — 3.5 times less likely to be exact. And to make matters worse, these candidates will share their poor experience online — think review sites like Glassdoor— or with friends. With social proof marketing becoming a more popular tactic to appeal to the likes of Millenials and Generation Z, this is bad PR your company cannot afford. Your employer brand also suffers, and your EVP, which is arguably the most compelling aspect of your recruiting strategy, is rendered inauthentic.
We put together these ideas to help you tackle the top challenges for seasonal talent attraction.
1. Communicate via Chatbot
Communication is a sticking point for recruiters, and with high-volume seasonal recruiting the logistics rapidly become unmanageable, leaving many candidates iced out and unimpressed.
Using a recruitment chatbot can alleviate the strain of managing the application influx. A chatbot works en masse, allowing individual and immediate engagement with your company. It offers real-time data collection, automates the process of building your ATS and doubles as a screening tool, asking prospective candidates about their salary expectations, location, availability, previous experience, and skills.
Chatbots can also automate your FAQs, sourcing the relevant questions within seconds. This provides the added benefit of improving the candidate experience — after all, candidates are spared the effort of scrolling through poorly organised questions listed on an uninspiring FAQ page.
2. Lead with Live Chats
In the absence of an installed live chat on your career website, or indeed live chat events, there remain only two ways for prospective applicants to contact you: phone or email. The email ping-pong match is tiresome for candidates, and that leaves them susceptible to dropping off. By employing a live chat function to your career site, all candidates have to do is to click on the chat bubble, enter their basic details requested and ask away. It offers speed, convenience, and intuitive experience, which will provide the same for your seasonal hiring strategy. As detailed by Becki Feldmann, Health System Leader of Employee and Candidate Experience for SMM, in her session “Where’s the Talent? Next Level Candidate Experience in Healthcare” during the Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech LIVE conference in February of this year, live chats have been particularly successful for the health care system provider. Through “real-time, quick chats,” launched last fall, candidates can connect with recruiters to ask questions that weren’t included in the job description — including those related to seasonal work.
3. Explore Unconventional Recruiting Mediums
With many companies competing for candidate interest during seasonal hiring periods, it can be hard to stand out to attract applicants. With candidates ranging from students looking for seasonal gigs to retirees looking for temporary, part-time holiday jobs, a multi-channel approach allows you to cast a wider net to attract active job seekers to your roles during a highly competitive hiring season.
In 2019, using social media for recruiting purposes needs to go further than LinkedIn — one particularly lucrative channel is Instagram. One company crushing it on the 'Gram is Marriott. The hospitality company has a recruiting account on Instagram that’s separate from the main corporate account which they use to showcase their existing employees and their stories, like in their most recent campaign #DiaryOfTheCraft. CTAs in their posts encourage applications via their careers site — a sure-fire way to get candidates applying with one simple click-through.
4. Tap into Past Seasonal Hires
Past seasonal hires offer an authentic insight into the realities of working in seasonal positions. They offer greater insight into the work environment and provide a means through which prospective applicants can get a better picture of the people they’ll be working with — and better still, find out what keeps seasonal hires coming back each year.
Target is a good example of a company tapping into the potential of past hires — they have a blog dedicated to company life to provide this need-to-know information to job seekers. In their 2018 seasonal hiring strategy, they put a seasonal team member in the spotlight, arranging a Q&A to determine his motivation to keep coming back. The breadth of his experience provided an insight into the variety of jobs on offer and the experience Target can offer that demonstrates that the company goes further than simply offering a one-time gig. Target supplemented these efforts via content. By authoring ‘How to Apply’ articles on their content centre, they deliver a double-whammy — answering frequently asked questions while providing candidate-driven content that boosts their SEO strategy. Throughout their article are valuable keywords — which boosts this content to second position in Google’s ranking for a search of “Seasonal Hiring at Target”.
5. Host Seasonal Hiring Events
Gap Inc. hosts a one-day hiring event each year across all of its umbrella stores, as well as some distribution and customer contact centres for a total of 30,000 seasonal jobs. What’s more, the clothing retailer offers an incentive for attending — a promise that most contingency offers are made immediately after interviewing at the hiring event.
Not far behind is Macy’s. They held a hiring event on the 24th of October at all of their stores to interview candidates for the holiday season — and they’ve thrown in an additional 20% discount on their merchandise for seasonal employees and the opportunity to get hired full time following a great performance during the busy season. So if you’re seeking to convert seasonal workers, you may want to pair your hiring events with benefits like discounts or access to the corporate wellness program.
6. Retain and Retarget for the Win
The candidate pipeline needs to be maintained throughout the year. And the best way to do this is to treat your seasonal hires just as you would your full-time staff — they should experience the same journey as your permanent hires. To keep up your talent pool, the engagement of seasonal workers is critical as you can draw on them to fill roles beyond the holidays. So don’t skimp on your onboarding procedure once you’ve got them through the door. Besides, temporary seasonal workers are still representing your brand and need the same level of training as your permanent employees in order to provide a positive customer experience.
Regardless of the type of employee — seasonal or permanent — finding and engaging the best talent is always difficult. But you can use these tricks to amp up your efforts to target the right candidates in the right way to ensure recruitment success ahead of each seasonal high-volume recruiting scramble.