Haven’t locked down your summer hiring strategy? These tips could help.
Find your best workers this year, even in a tight employment market.
With low unemployment making it tougher to fill jobs this year, summer hiring could be even more challenging for employers.
After all, you’re not offering full-time positions, you may be in an industry paying close to minimum wage, and you’ve got a finite hiring period—you need those job ads and recruitment campaigns buttoned up.
But finding great summer talent doesn’t have to mean lowering your standards, and there are a variety of strategies that can make it easier.
Sell the position
You’re offering a seasonal role. To attract the best people to it, you’ll want to talk up all the things that are great about it. Social media is a great platform for this. And video is a great medium.
“Show them it’s a fun place,” Sharkey says. “You have to start thinking of yourself as selling a product to the applicants you’re attracting. You have to be like, ‘Hey, isn’t this the coolest thing?’”
You want applicants to come to you not because they need money—although of course, they need money—but because they think you’re offering something great. You want them to think, “Look at them on Instagram, this is a cool company, I want to work for them,” Sharkey says.
It’s also essential to communicate the value a temporary opportunity can add to someone’s resume. How will it supplement their arsenal of skills? “You’re going to learn this software and be able to apply it to the future,” says Darchelle Nass, vice president of human resources at staffing agency Addison Group. “Recruiters need to be showing the individual what that project might do for them in the long run.”
Offer incentives to retain them
It’s important to not only find and train your summer hires—but also to keep them in the position.
“In this day and age, and especially with minimum wage or tipped jobs, there’s a lot of ghosting going on,” Nass says. “It’s a huge cost if you hire somebody and they stay for two to three weeks in the role and then you have to refill that position.”
“One of the really important things, when I’ve managed larger seasonal work, is giving an incentive to make sure the individuals stay and complete the project,” Nass says. That could mean a gift card or bonus for each month workers complete, followed by a larger stipend or reward if they stay the whole summer.
When unemployment was higher and the pool of temporary employees was deeper, you could be more stringent about your hires. But in today’s market, you may need to be more understanding. For instance, although you’re staffing a temp position, it may be short sighted to screen out applicants who’ll be taking time off over the summer.
“Vacations are going to happen, even for temporary employees,” says Luke Stratmann, metro market manager for Robert Half’s Baltimore practice. “The summertime is just when people are free, and their family is free to be able to take vacations. Do not let that deter you from partnering with a person.”
Create a feed-in program
Instead of starting from scratch each summer, consider setting up a system that helps funnel workers into your summer roles.
“We’re seeing many companies use micro-internships throughout the year as a way to build their summer hiring positions,” says Jeffrey Moss, founder and CEO of talent firm Parker Dewey. “This provides early access to candidates, introduces their company to those who might otherwise not know or consider it, and offers a mutual audition to ensure there is a fit before committing to the summer role.”
It’s also smart to have options for your current summer hires when they’re done, if that system makes sense for you. “If people are looking to transition and hopefully get into another job, those opportunities should be available,” Nass says. If the HR team is doing its onboarding correctly and creating a talent pool, you can keep them in mind for future opportunities—whether those are summer or full-time.
Take advantage of your local resources
Is there a community college? Connect with them. That population generally has summers off and may be actively seeking summer employment. “No one pays attention to them, so when they get a big company that’s doing this, they’re so grateful,” says Patricia Sharkey, an HR consultant in Palm Springs, CA. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The same goes for nearby universities, whose professors or career placement office can help funnel students into your program.