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10 proven strategies to master the seasonal hiring rush

October 19, 2023
iCIMS Staff
5 min read

Whether in the thick of hiring for the holidays or planning for the summer staffing rush, talent acquisition leaders need a creative and flexible approach to seasonal hiring.

As the peak season gets closer and projections for consumer demand become clearer, recruiting teams often need to adapt their hiring strategies and goals. It’s a balancing act — hiring enough workers to support demand without overspending on labor.

With cost-effective and quick-to-implement tactics, employers can take an agile approach to seasonal hiring. Simple (and proven) solutions allow organizations to pivot their strategies as consumer and labor market trends change while attracting the qualified talent they desperately need.

Learn more about how to attract and engage talent at scale with our infographic, 10 Ways to Speed Up Seasonal Hiring.


10 tactics to master the seasonal hiring rush

1. Ask current employees for referrals

Research shows that referred employees are faster and more cost-effective to hire, which means you can pass some of the cost savings onto your employees in the form of a bonus. Use your ATS to keep track of the program and give employees a dedicated portal to view the status of their referrals, their bonuses and when they will be received.

2. Invite past employees to reapply

Reach out to past workers throughout the year to let them know of hiring events, open roles and company news. Personalized messages foster a deeper relationship than an out-of-the-blue generic text when the busy season starts. Plus, you can lean on automation to make the process less time consuming for recruiters.

3. Make it easy to apply via text

People who love your brand (consumers) make great potential employees. To capture their interest while your brand is top of mind, take advantage of the point of sale to advertise job openings. Signs throughout your store or QR codes on receipts can give quick, clear instructions on how to apply via text.

Cedar Fair uses this tactic to hire 47,000 seasonal workers annually. The theme park operator launched text-to-apply campaigns across 11 parks with marketing materials like posters and murals. Candidates text “fun” to a short code, submit an application and communicate with recruiters directly through text.

4. Set your sights on social 

You don’t need a complex social media marketing strategy to reach a younger demographic. Instead, ask your ATS vendor if they have the capability to post job openings to social networks. For example, iCIMS ATS has a job advertising feature that allows recruiters to select priority jobs, build an ad campaign and post to multiple job boards with just a few clicks. With no long-term contracts or commitments, your team can adjust the strategy (and spending) as hiring goals change.

5. Get creative with your career site

Retailers like Kohl’s and Target know that career sites are vital tools to attract and convert talent. You can follow their lead by creating a page on your career site that specifically addresses seasonal roles, hiring events and competitive benefits. We particularly love the employee video testimonials on Target’s career site, which give job seekers a behind-the-scenes look at the company culture.

Target uses iCIMS Video Studio on its career site.

6. Speed up the application

Job seekers want a quick way to toss their hat in the ring, but some companies still have applications that feel like you’re applying for a mortgage. Stand out from those stuck in the past with super simple applications that take just a few minutes to complete.

The recruiting team at The Cheesecake Factory knew they needed to remove all barriers to an excellent candidate experience. Previously, long applications were followed immediately by a talent assessment that took 10-20 minutes to complete. By leveraging technology to make it quicker and easier to apply, applicants now share their work experience and answer just three key questions.

7. Host an open hiring event

Open hiring is the concept of hiring anyone who shows up — no experience needed. It can broaden your candidate pool, attract more candidates with diverse backgrounds and be more cost-effective than a traditional hiring process.

8. Screen for skills

The job you initially hire a candidate to perform may change as your busy season gets into full swing. That’s why it’s so important to screen candidates for soft skills. Candidates with a breadth of transferable skills can more easily adapt to new roles as your hiring needs change. Companies can use AI within their ATS to scan resumes for specific skills, allowing recruiters to more easily identify well-rounded candidates.

9. Help all job seekers feel welcome

Are you missing out on qualified applicants? Talent from diverse backgrounds want to know that your organization is a place where they can feel safe and seen. Evaluate your career site, emails and recruiter communications to identify places where you can communicate your inclusive culture.

Caleres, the name behind your favorite footwear brands, uses iCIMS CRM to attract applicants from all backgrounds. The company highlights its inclusive culture and publishes content designed to show diverse applicants that they would feel welcome at the company.

10. Get new hires up to speed fast

Get new employees started quickly by using a digital onboarding portal to standardize and automate tasks right after the offer letter is signed.  Employee onboarding software maximizes engagement, so seasonal workers are less likely to ghost you and more likely to show up prepared for their first day.


Support seasonal hiring strategies with the right tech

You need the right technology to efficiently integrate these tactics into your hiring processes. As you prepare for your next seasonal hiring spike, look for a talent acquisition solution that brings your most important tools into one place. Using an all-in-one hiring platform has even been shown to have a lower total cost of ownership compared to using various point solutions.

Learn more about how to attract and engage talent at scale with our infographic, 10 Ways to Speed Up Seasonal Hiring.

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