Hiring for the Holidays: What Recruiters Need to Know About Seasonal Employment

October 31, 2018 by Verified First
With the holidays officially upon us, the retail industry is at its peak. Recruiters across the industry are working to find temporary employees. Competition is high, and timing is tight. If you’re a recruiter, first step: take a deep breath! Second step: read on for information about hiring during the holidays, what retail employees are worried about, and how to be as effective as possible with your process.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, American retailers will hire 700,000 seasonal workers this holiday season. Target alone plans to hire 120,000 additional workers and all of this hiring is for good reason. According to Deloitte, retail sales from November to January will reach 1.1 trillion dollars, which is up 5% from last year. 

“Unemployment is the lowest we’ve seen in decades and take-home wages are up. All of that is reflected in consumers’ buying plans," said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay

So what is a recruiter to do with all of these numbers? Expect steep competition when hiring seasonal workers. Some of the larger retailers started hiring employees as early as Labor Day, but most seasonal workers start to look for work about three months in advance. 

What’s on retail employees’ minds?

During the holiday season, there’s an obvious need for retail workers. But many of the same workers have long-term fears about where the retail industry is going. As warehouses replace brick-and-mortar stores, and robots replace the workers in those warehouses, there’s a fear of instability in the retail industry.

According to Nexxt, 83% of the largest metro areas have seen a decrease in retail employment. On the bright side, the culture of retail stores is changing in a way that’s more sustainable for employees. Large companies like Target see their stores as a reflection of their brand, and an opportunity to develop customer loyalty through personal interactions. These large stores continue to open new locations, but future employees and recruiters will need to know that now more than ever, customer service skills trump all in retail.

How to Effectively Hire Retail Employees


Whether you’re hiring retail employees in the holiday season or not, the best ways to win them over is by having a quick time to hire, strong benefits, and a strong hiring process.

Many lower level retail positions are similar in job description and benefits, so time to hire can make or break you. If you quickly offer your candidate a job, chances are they’ll accept it. If your time to hire is too lengthy, chances are they’ll accept a similar position elsewhere.

Here are more tips on reducing your time to hire.

During the holiday season, Target’s minimum wage is $12 an hour. Other stores offer attractive employee discounts. Some stores provide health benefits to even their temporary workers. When you’re planning to hire a retail worker, make sure that your company’s benefits for part-time workers are attractive enough to compete.

Sometimes recruiters are in such a rush to hire retail workers that they forget to do their due diligence. This can lead to low quality employees, insufficiently licensed employees, or employees with a criminal background. To reduce your liability this holiday season, use a credible background screening company.

Verified First provides fully integrated background screening solutions for 100+ applicant tracking systems. With an average integration time of five minutes, Verified First uses patent-pending integration technology to slash your time to hire. Contact us for more information.

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