Hiring Seasonal Employees: 4 Strategies for Business Owners
Hiring qualified and engaged seasonal employees for your business can be tricky. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the process with four simple steps.
Hiring a full-time staff member is one thing. But when you’re a small business owner faced with hiring a legion of seasonal employees, the process can quickly become time-consuming and overwhelming. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be.
In many ways, hiring a seasonal employee will look quite similar to your regular hiring process, and if you have a built-out strategy, you’re already in a great starting position.
However, there are also a number of best practices particular to hiring seasonal workers. In this guide, we’ll look at these unique hiring strategies, including suggestions for how to:
- Define your expectations from seasonal employees
- Leverage industry-specific hiring and screening tools
- Source and target candidates interested in seasonal work
- Offer more than a paycheck
Before starting your hiring process, remember that a successful seasonal hiring strategy, like all hiring, demands initial planning. Take time to determine everything from the specific qualities you’re looking for in your seasonal employees to how you’ll integrate them into your larger team. Ultimately, putting the time and thought into your hiring upfront will save you from headaches down the road.
1. Define your expectations from seasonal employees
One of the biggest mistakes a hiring manager can make is reusing the same description for every job post. A one-size-fits-all job description simply doesn’t exist. Your expectations for your seasonal employees likely differ from those for your full-time staff. To meet (and surpass) these different expectations, they’ll need a different set of skills and knowledge.
Thus, tailor your job descriptions to the actual work your seasonal hires will be doing—not the work of someone else at your company. In addition to a general description and background of your business, your job posting for seasonal employees should include the following information:
- Responsibilities. What exactly will your seasonal employees be expected to do on a day-to-day basis?
- Required skills, education, and training. What experience do they need to be successful in the role? Is there knowledge or industry-specific software they should know?
- Compensation. How much will you pay? Will there be additional benefits? (More on this below!)
- Schedule. When will the season begin and when will it end? How many hours per week do you expect them to work?
When you’re clear about your expectations from the get-go, you’re more likely to find employees well suited to the position, and it will be easier down the road to track and assess your seasonal employees’ performance.
Because the role will change from year to year, as you adopt new technology and business strategies, update the description both at the beginning of each season based on your projections and at the end of each season based on what you’ve learned.
2. Leverage hiring and screening tools and software
Unlike hiring a single full-time employee, seasonal hiring often requires you to hire a large number of workers in a short amount of time. Hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates may cross your desk in a matter of days. Instead of trying to keep track of so many applicants, use hiring tools that allow you to quickly:
- Assess skills and knowledge
- Check candidate references
- Run background checks and verify employment
- Automate communications and workflow
Your hiring software should integrate with your other digital tools and allow you to work from a single dashboard. When you have a better sense of all the candidates before you, you’ll make better informed and more efficient hiring decisions.
Find 6 Steps to Optimizing Your Hiring Tech Stack for more insight on building an efficient HR tech tack.
3. Source and target candidates interested in seasonal work
As you might expect, not just anyone is a good fit for seasonal work. Hiring the wrong candidates can lead to dissatisfaction and costly churn at the height of your season.
For example, a candidate searching for a permanent full-time job probably isn’t the best fit for seasonal work and has a higher chance of leaving mid-season. On the other hand, college students and teachers on summer break, stay-at-home parents, and retirees may all be looking explicitly for seasonal work.
By tailoring your job description above, you’ve already done a part of the work to target those interested in seasonal work. You can take this a step further in how and where you share your call for applicants, including:
- Asking for referrals. Your full-time employees and business partners may know of friends and family in search of seasonal work. To encourage referrals, offer a bonus to employees who recommend a successful hire.
- Recruiting events. Host a recruiting event at your business or join a job fair at a local university. Read resumes, conduct interviews, and make job offers to the appropriate candidates.
- Posting on job search platforms. When posting on job search engines, include relevant keywords—including “seasonal”—in the job title. That way, candidates will know the general context of the position before they even read the job description.
Once you’ve gone through a few seasons using these strategies to find candidates, plan to gradually adjust your approach. In fact, your biggest source of seasonal employees will likely be your previous season’s staff.
Hiring previous seasonal employees poses two main benefits:
- They’re already trained and able to start contributing to your business on the very first day of work.
- You can save yourself time in the hiring process that can be spent growing your business.
To get a head start, consider directly asking your high-performing seasonal employees at the end of the season to return for the next one. Then, maintain up-to-date contact information for these workers and reach out to them when the time to start hiring begins again.
4. Offer more than a paycheck
In most markets, the future of compensation consists of more than a simple paycheck. Even if you’re not legally required to offer your seasonal workers a comprehensive comp package, doing so will make it more likely for potential hires to sign on and stay with your team throughout the season—and for many to come. Other benefits you might consider offering in addition to pay include:
- Skills training. If your business is in a particular niche, consider offering training that seasonal employees can use in future jobs. For example, a dog daycare might offer seasonal employees training in caring for dogs and in communicating with customers. To make the training process as accessible and approachable as possible, choose software solutions designed with employees in mind.
- Team events. Use team events to welcome new employees, celebrate successes, and create an environment where people are excited to work.
- Schedule flexibility. Consider offering seasonal employees options for when and (if possible) where they work.
- Opportunities for full-time employment. While you won’t be able to hire every one of your seasonal employees full-time, you may be able to keep on your top performers. Use seasonal employment as a chance to identify (and eventually hire) new full-time talent.
Of course, direct compensation is still important to seasonal employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, you can tie comp directly to employee retention, offering a bonus to those who work the entire season.
When employees do churn, interview them about both successes and areas for growth in your hiring and retention processes. Whether they’ve been with your business for 10 seasons or this is their first, they’ll likely offer valuable feedback that can streamline your work. Listen to their suggestions, take notes, and leverage what you learn as you go into next year’s hiring cycle.
Hire a team of incredible seasonal employees
Ultimately, whether you’re hiring accountants in tax season, salespeople during the holidays, or dog grooming professionals in the summer, meeting the customer demand of your busy season doesn’t have to come with a sacrifice in staff quality.
Even if they’re only with you for a few months, seasonal staff can make a big difference in your ability to grow as a business.
By following these tips, you’ll find high-quality employees and position your business as the place to work for the season.