11 Strategies for Recruiting Seasonal Employees

If your business relies on a seasonal workforce, it’s important to source, hire, and onboard seasonal employees who represent the best that your business has to offer.

Many pitfalls plague employers who need to supplement their full-time staff for the summer, for tax season, the holidays, or for any other portion of the year when business peaks. Most of these troubles stem from a failure of the company’s leadership to devote enough energy and resources to assembling an optimal seasonal workforce.

Are you willing to take a fresh look at your operations to see where you might improve your seasonal hiring? Consider these 11 tactics for recruiting seasonal employees when the annual rush is on.

1. Write Better Job Descriptions

Take time to ensure that your job descriptions for seasonal hires are accurate, complete, and up-to-date. “We have clients using job descriptions that are four or more years old,” says Nels Wroe, partner and product director at SHL Group, a vendor of talent-assessment tools.

Consider asking the author of the job description to spend a few hours shadowing an employee in the relevant position. When it comes to seasonal hiring, your customers won’t forgive poor service simply because it’s rendered by a seasonal worker.

2. Source Candidates Who Only Want Seasonal Work

Recruiting seasonal employees will go much more smoothly if you can mine rich veins of candidates who just want to work for the season. “We have tapped into graduating university students who are taking time to figure out what they want to do,” says Jennifer Lemcke, chief operating officer of Weed Man USA, a lawn-care franchisor. Often these candidates would prefer the temporary nature of seasonal work compared to a longer-term commitment.

3. Dedicate More Resources to Successful Onboarding

If your seasonal staff is large, you should consider paying more attention — and money — when it comes to how you train new employees. “One of the most common mistakes is throwing seasonal hires on a sales floor with minimal training or onboarding, viewing them as a way to fill a schedule rather than as company representatives to serve your customers,” says Wroe. Giving seasonal employees the sink-or-swim test could hurt your bottom line at season’s end.

4. Consider Tools for High-Volume Hiring and Screening

If you’re hiring for many seasonal positions, you’ll probably benefit from using a talent management system. “Our candidates have doubled or tripled over the last few years, so we need tools to manage the flow,” says Kyle Martin, manager of talent acquisition at Vail Resorts Management Company in Broomfield, Colorado. Wroe says that with seasonal hires, “you have a very limited window to get a return on your hiring investment. Assessments let you select workers who will get up to speed more quickly.”

5. Hire for Attitude as Much as Aptitude

Most seasonal work is about being flexible and getting up to speed quickly, rather than bringing to bear an elaborate skill set. “All of our training is so in-depth, we don’t necessarily need someone with experience,” says Lemcke. Instead, many employers who engage in seasonal hiring will look for dependable workers who are able to focus on higher level skills like safety and customer service.

6. Give Preference to “Same Time, Next Year” Candidates

Hiring a brand-new force of employees during every busy season can be exhausting and inefficient. If you’re able to select for candidates most likely to return for another season, do so. It’ll streamline the process when you start recruiting seasonal employees the following year and can build a little more predictability into your planning.

7. Don’t Cut Corners

You may be tempted to save short-term costs by bypassing some HR processes for seasonal employees. This can bring trouble on many fronts, from fielding confused workers to running afoul of labor laws. So, keep your seasonal workers on your regular HR platform, and disseminate systems and knowledge to branch offices that are hiring for the season. “We supply franchisees with information on how to interview and evaluate candidates, with orientation and training programs, and with all the forms they’ll need,” says Lemcke.

8. Don’t Assume High Unemployment Makes Seasonal Hiring Easy

When the economy fluctuates, it’s important to remember that higher unemployment doesn’t necessarily mean that quality candidates will line up at your door. In fact, “we’ve experienced pockets of the country where it was very difficult to hire,” says Lemcke.

The catch in these conditions is that extensions of federal and state jobless benefits have made many workers eligible to collect benefits for a long time, reducing the motivation to find work, according to Mark Perry, a professor of economics at University of Michigan in Flint.

9. Use One Staffing Vendor

If you use multiple staffing vendors, consider giving just one an exclusive for your seasonal hires. Staffing agencies may be swamped recruiting seasonal employees for many clients at once. If you promise one agency all your business, they may be more willing to go the extra mile to bring you the best seasonal workers.

10. Don’t Assume That All Your Seasonal Hires Are Temporary

Many of your seasonal workers will never be candidates for permanent positions, but some of them could be. Tag potential permanent hires early on, keeping close tabs on their performance. At the end of the season, evaluate their fitness for full-time employment.

11. Don’t Neglect Your End Game

Never assume that your workforce will remain intact through the season; it most likely won’t. “No matter how much we plan, we still have to hire some people toward the end of the season,” says Lemcke. Consider structuring compensation to reward seasonal workers for staying as long as you need them. “Our lawn-care technicians get a bonus based on production if they complete the season,” Lemcke adds.

Does Your Seasonal Hiring Strategy Need a Long-Term Fix? We Can Help

Whether you’re recruiting seasonal employees or a permanent workforce, you always face the challenge of knowing how to appeal to the right candidates. This can change each year — or even each season — which is why it would help to keep tabs on the latest job market insights. Stay connected with Monster for free access to hiring resources that will add immediate value to your recruitment efforts.