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Rev Up Your 2018 Holiday Hiring with These Time-Honored and Oh-So-New Tactics

Some big brands got a jump start on their holiday hiring, anticipating what is predicted to be a highly-competitive season. Your small company can get in the race with these best practices.

Rev Up Your 2018 Holiday Hiring with These Time-Honored and Oh-So-New Tactics

By: Daniel Bortz

Is your business planning to hire holiday workers this year? If so, now’s the time to rev up your recruitment strategy

Today’s competitive labor market is likely to put the squeeze on 2018 holiday hiring for companies large and small. “The labor market is tight in almost every major metro area across the country, which makes attracting seasonal employees more difficult even before we enter the holiday season,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president at outplacement and search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago.

One sign of the fierce competition for seasonal hires this year: J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl’s Corp. began posting help-wanted ads for the holiday season in June

“The big retailers are already out there laying seeds in the marketplace for local talent,” says Jonathan Means, president of TrueBlue Workforce Management Group. That extends across a wide range of industries that are looking for local talent, he adds. That means small companies like yours will likely be competing for talent with bigger companies. 

While your small company may feel the squeeze this season, don't forget that your company culture and unique benefits have the ability to attract candidates, particularly with Gen Y talent.  

Perhaps you’ve already started to look for holiday hires. If not, no worries. We’ve gathered some expert hiring tactics to help your business be well-positioned for a successful holiday season. 

Build local buzz offline
In the same way your company does outreach to attract local customers, you’ll want to invest in similar tactics to reach talent in your local area. 

“It sounds basic, but if you’re not involved with your local community and using local resources to find job seekers, you’re making a huge mistake,” Means says. 

Translation: make sure you’re spreading the word about your business and letting people know you’re hiring seasonal employees. Tap your local networks, including the Chamber of Commerce, religious groups and other community organizations.  Consider advertising at local events where workers (or their families) are likely to gather. Be sure to highlight your employer brand story. Be sure to talk about the benefits that your company offers, such as flexible hours, free food, bonuses, etc.

Leverage the reach of social media
“The recruiting game for seasonal jobs is different today than it was 5 years ago,” says Means. The biggest game changer? Social media. 

Today, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter play a key role in circulating jobs ads. In fact, 46% of recruiters say social media is their primary source for finding job candidates, according to Social Talent’s 2017 Global Recruiting Survey. With some added technology, social media gives you the means to target local talent. 

A good social media strategy targets prospective hires where they congregate online. Use your social outreach as an opportunity to communicate why your company culture makes your business a great place to work for the season. Stand out by including a sneak-peek into your company culture using fun photos and videos.

Encourage employees to make referrals
Technology can help you find local talent as never before. Yet old-school employee referrals remain a viable way to find holiday workers. To sweeten the deal, offer your workers a financial bonus for referrals that lead to hires. Make sure to organize these leads into a talent pipeline for future hiring needs. 

Can’t afford to reward employees with money? “You can offer workers the ability to telecommute after the holidays, when the craziness of the season has died down,” Challenger says. In fact flexible scheduling is a benefit that appeals to workers during the holiday season.  

Improve your company website’s SEO
What’s the point in posting seasonal job openings on your website if job seekers can’t find it? You'll want to point directly to your Monster job openings from your website.

Increasing your site's search engine optimization (SEO)—i.e., where your website shows up on search engine results–is a goal for every small business owner.  

Your website’s SEO depends on the right keywords and hyperlinks. To select these, Means recommends small businesses hire a local marketing firm “that really knows the tricks of the trade.” Be prepared to make an upfront investment—SEO consultants charge an average hourly rate of $171, according to Credo, a service that connects small businesses and SEO providers.

Pro tip: make sure your website is also optimized for mobile. A Pew Research Center survey found that 28% of Americans have used a smartphone during a job search. 

Consider offering higher wages
With such stiff competition for holiday workers, Challenger says small businesses may need to offer higher wages to lure talent. “Offering the same hourly wage that you paid last year might not cut it,” he says. 

It’s a trend that the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has steadily tracked. Their July Small Business Jobs Report shows a net 32 percent of higher worker compensation. 

“Small business owners are continuing to show that they’re looking to hire and willing to pay more to hire the right employees,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 

How can you respond? Compare your wages with what competitors are offering and up the ante if you have room in the budget, Challenger says.

Hire remote workers (when possible)
Look at your holiday jobs—can any of them be handled by remote workers? Doing so can help increase your talent pool dramatically. “Online customer service employees could be located anywhere,” Challenger says. “There’s a lot of good talent in rural areas,” he adds.

If you go this route, you’ll want to be thorough about checking references. “Unlike a normal workforce you will not be able to lay eyes on them all day and know what they’re doing,” says Frank Dadah, a managing director for recruiting firm WinterWyman, Waltham, Massachusetts.

With these recommendations in hand, you're ready to rally your recruiting efforts and make the most of the 2018 holiday season. And Monster is ready to help you find the local talent you need, at a price you can afford.