Seasonal Hiring Guide

There are certain annual inevitabilities that signify the ending of a year. Shorter days, cooler weather, scarves as far as the eye can see, and yes, surges in seasonal hiring. 

That’s right, for many businesses, the end of the year is marked by a wave of seasonal hiring in order to accommodate the holiday shopping season and spike in consumer spending.

What is seasonal hiring?

After all, with an influx of business for many retailers and companies during the holidays, the need for additional help and labor is a given. Many companies start the hunt for seasonal employees as early as September in order to fill out their ranks, and this is reflected in increases of both applications and hires during the months that follow. As experts specializing in seasonal hiring, Fountain is in a prime position to take stock of holiday hiring. Below is a closer look at how the impending holiday season impacts employment and hiring numbers.

Seasonal Hiring Statistics

When it comes to holiday hiring, the retail industry generally sees the biggest growth spurt. According to a survey conducted by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. retailers estimated they would hire as many as 740,000 seasonal employees this year. However, it’s not just retailers reaping the bounties of mass hiring this holiday season. Delivery services like FedEx and UPS expect to add tens of thousands of workers, while Amazon is expanding their workforce with a massive 120,000 new seasonal hires.

2016 is looking to be a year for the record books in terms of seasonal hiring. According to Richard Feinberg, a retail management expert at Purdue University, seasonal hiring is set to match the highest level of hiring in the past two decades. This is especially impressive and indicative of the need for more seasonal and contingent workers considering these hiring figures come a mere eight years after the all-time low of 275,000 seasonal hires in 2008.

The months of November and December mark peaks in the number of workers possessing retail jobs, bolstered by the hiring of seasonal contingent workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the retail industry reached an all-time high of 16.3 million employees during the holiday season last year. While final figures for holiday hiring in 2016 aren’t yet available, experts project this year is set to match and possibly exceed 2015’s numbers.

While overall numbers for holiday hiring remain steady from last year, seasonal retail hires in particular are down from 2015. Federal employment data projects that U.S retailers added close to 522,000 workers in the first two months of the holiday season, a 14% decrease from 2015. However, massive increases in warehouse, delivery and distribution jobs this holiday season are offsetting the decrease in retail jobs to maintain healthy overall holiday hiring figures that are on-par with last year’s. Data from BLS shows more than 96,000 jobs in these industries were added in October and November, a drastic uptick from the 71,300 jobs in 2015.

Seasonal Hiring Trends

As a hiring automation tool specializing in rapid, high-volume seasonal hiring, OnboardIQ was able to gain some unique insights into holiday hiring statistics and patterns for the on-demand industry. These companies rush to fill many seasonal positions before the year-end retail sales frenzy like many other U.S. industries. Last year, hiring grew 26% in November and 5% in December across a vast cohort of on-demand clients.

Candidates can take advantage of this surge in holiday hiring by responding quickly to employer messages (which are increasingly over SMS), arriving to interviews on-time and ensuring that all their documents are up-to-date. The holidays are also a great time to prepare for the rush of new full-time positions that open up in January. Applicants should be mindful that there will be increased competition for jobs; this January had 21% more people applying for jobs than the average number of applicants in 2016.

Seasonal Hiring Tips

Most businesses know whether or not they’ll need to hire sizable amounts of new people to help them through the hectic holiday season. Still, knowing and doing are two completely separate things. Searching for and hiring a substantial number of new employees is a daunting task, especially when it needs to be done quickly and efficiently. After all, consumers aren’t going to curb their spending habits just because a business doesn’t have enough help. With that said, here are a few tips employers should keep in mind when gearing up for mass seasonal hiring:

  • Consider taking applications mobile — Many contingent workers looking for seasonal or temporary work are constantly on the go, meaning they’re not hunkered down in front of a computer. The best way to reach this group of potential employees is where they live — on their phones! Make sure job applications are simple and mobile friendly, and candidates will start piling up.
  • Have an expeditious hiring cycle — Speed is the goal for both parties when it comes to holiday hiring. Businesses and retailers need lots of workers and they need candidates to turn into hires quickly. Conversely, seasonal contingent workers are busy individuals and are usually bouncing around from gig to gig. They need to know the hiring process won’t be cumbersome to ensure they won’t be out of work for too long. Doing away with tiresome hiring practices that might normally be executed to hire a small number of high-skilled employees will make all the difference in hiring larger numbers of seasonal workers.
  • Go the tech route — Technology has evolved rapidly over the past few years, and many small technological solutions can reap huge benefits when it comes to hiring. For example, OnboardIQ found a 97% open rate on text communications with candidates, beating traditional email open rates by lightyears. A simple, more savvy approach like this can be crucial when trying to hire workers fast. Going big is even better — a hiring automation platform can deliver increased levels of convenience, speed and efficiency over traditional hiring processes.

How Hiring Automation Tools Can Help Seasonal Hiring

Hiring automation platforms and software, like OnboardIQ, can be saviors for companies that need to hire a boatload of workers in a short amount of time, like during the holiday season. Fountain specifically works to help companies hire contingent hourly workers, many of whom take on seasonal work during the holidays, better and faster. OnboardIQ’s comprehensive hiring engine comes complete with automated features essential to every hire, including scheduling, background checks, document signing, training and on-boarding, follow-up SMS and email communication, data collection and more.

Many businesses and retailers hire upwards of 50 workers a month during the holiday season, and hiring automation tools like OnboardIQ are designed specifically to accommodate those lofty needs and help hiring managers and departments achieve them. High volume hires require different tactics, and there’s no better, faster or more efficient hiring approach for mass holiday hires than a hiring automation platform.

Conclusion: Seasonal hiring

As 2016 comes to a close and the holiday shopping season reaches its fever pitch, employers will be scrambling to hire more seasonal contingent workers. All signs point to a record year for holiday hires, with many industries benefiting from the increased consumer activity that’s common this time of year. Contingent workers on the hunt for their next gig have lots to be thankful for during the holidays, thanks to massive increases in hires. Meanwhile, businesses have to act fast in order to be prepared for the holiday season, and that means taking some alternative approaches to hiring. With hiring automation tools taking the stress out of mass holiday hiring, businesses can rest easy knowing that they’ll be armed with enough workers to weather through the holidays. As for jobseekers, tis the season to apply and be hired!