As we approach Q4 of 2018, I am asked more and more about hiring seasonal workers for the upcoming holiday season. My response is always the same “follow the same effective hiring strategies for anyone working in a flexible workforce.” The holiday season behaves the same as any other dynamic business: sudden high-volume and high customer demand. The main distinguishing factor is that this is an anticipated surge companies can prepare for proactively. So what about the rest of the service economy? Companies relying on gig workers, contractors or flexible workforce all have executives asking their hiring managers the same key questions:
“Will we have enough employees to cover our extended operations throughout our busy period?” and “How can we fill our workforce quickly, with the most qualified workers?”
These questions are valid. Our historically low unemployment rate means there is a smaller pool of job seekers, intensifying competition for flexible workers. This means you’ll need to employ more effective hiring methods to be successful. For the retail industry, however, which employs 17.8 percent of total part-time workers in the United States and 22.7 percent of working teenagers, there are some tried-and-true measures your company can take to ensure you’re fully staffed, with employees who meet your hiring criteria.
1. Your candidate experience is an effective hiring method you need to tap
People who are satisfied with their candidate experiences are 38 percent more likely to accept a job offer (IBM, The Far-Reaching Impact of Candidate Experience, 2017). During the hiring process steps, every touchpoint counts. Retailers who respond to applicants quickly and personably are more likely to win them over. Creating effective hiring strategies using a successful candidate experience helps you stand out against the competition and builds a positive relationship with each worker, encouraging them to come back for future high-traffic periods.
Effective hiring strategies for your candidate experience you can use right away:
- Contact them as soon as they apply – they are most likely applying to many positions so let them know you’re interested by emailing or texting them before anyone else does! For example: Safeway recruits drivers for their delivery service. They respond to qualified candidates within 30 minutes of applying and were able to hit their goal of expanding to 10 new states in less than 3 years!
- Send frequent communications – to give applicants immediate transparency in their progress. It’s a great way to keep candidates continuously engaged and keep them informed to ensure they get through the hiring process seamlessly.
- Make it personal – don’t just send a generic message. Include something about how excited you are to invite them in for an interview and address it to them by name. For example: Wag sends qualified candidates creative brand-specific pun messages. The result is a very positive (or “paw”sitive) candidate experience! Take a look…
2. Effective hiring methods are amplified by going mobile first
According to CareerBuilder, 60 percent of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. Good candidates know their time is important and they have plenty of opportunities in the job market. Effective hiring methods limit the number of hoops they need to jump through.
For the service economy in particular, the rate of job searches from mobile devices is quite high – close to 80%. The simple reason for this: they are non-traditional, deskless workers.
The flexible workforce is applying for match their lifestyle – flexible, wireless and portable. Recruiters and hiring managers can also create a positive candidate experience by making the process as easy as possible, such as:
- Optimizing applications for mobile devices – Fountain, for example, sees 2.5+ million SMS messages go through our software a month so mobile is driving the workforce over any other channel ;
- Offering reminders to complete and submit unfinished documents; Here’s another great example from Wag:
- Or even enabling video interviews over written applications – We see employers using Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc. According to SHRM, 75% of recruiters embrace the use of video in recruiting.
When the hiring process is effortless, you’ll see a lower drop-off rate and increase your chances of hiring seasonal workers before your competitors do.
3. Effective hiring strategies focus on adapting
A tight labor force means it’s no longer a numbers game; it’s now all about response time. Hourly workers want to start earning money right away, and companies who take a significant amount of time to respond to candidates have a higher likelihood of losing that worker to their competitors. Effective hiring strategies focus on timeliness and adapting to the needs of candidates.
While candidate expectations have changed, companies are having to make major changes in how they hire.
What you can do right now and why:
- Set custom filters that eliminate applicants who don’t fit your needs. This ensures you get a concentrated pool of the most qualified people.
- Remove manual steps as much as possible. Improving upon long, tedious processes will work twofold – candidate experiences will improve and recruiters can reach a higher volume of applicants.
- Add automation if you can. An examples is setting notifications for yourself so you can immediately follow up with a text message for the qualified applicants to schedule an interview. By automating non-personable tasks such as the recruitment, screening and onboarding process, you can expedite the time it takes to add qualified candidates to your workforce.
Hiring flexible workers means tens of thousands of workers will be applying for positions with your company. Reset your expectations and you will see immediate results in your hiring.
The Takeaway: Effective hiring strategies
Hiring hourly workers is expensive. The average cost-per-hire is currently $4,129 – one of the largest expenses for the retail industry. Identifying easy ways to make improvements, however, will help mitigate this cost, saving your business time, money, and resources. It will also help you improve on the quality of your hires and help you build effective hiring strategies.
Start with these simple tasks and then look at scaling. Once you have taken these first steps, you can then start to explore technology solutions to match your needs.
At Fountain, we’re seeing this upward trend first-hand: we process almost 1 million applications on behalf of our clients in the month of September.
Interested in how Fountain can help your company embrace automation to solve your high-volume hiring challenges this holiday season? Contact us to learn more about our retail hiring automation software today.