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12 Ways to Make Holiday Hiring Hassle-Free

12 Ways to Make Holiday Hiring Hassle-Free

Oh, the holidays. The season that’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” can be a time of headache and hassle for recruiters in industries like service and retail, who are tasked with hiring additional workers to support a boom in business. About one-third of all companies hired seasonal help last year, with the retail sector alone adding 755,000 workers.[1] In fact, 75% of all private sector jobs added in Q4 were made by sectors most impacted by the rush of the season.[2] That’s a lot of people to scout, screen, hire, and train. Holiday hiring poses other unique challenges, some of which you probably know all too well.

The Unique Challenges of Holiday Hiring

You’re posting for temporary jobs. These jobs might also be part-time, or 2nd or 3rd shift. This combination isn’t always the most eye-catching to job seekers. The average active job seeker is going to wait for a full-time position, which means you might have to work a little harder to get applicants in the door.

You’re hiring multiple people at once. Companies typically hire intermittently throughout the year, with hires dispersed among departments. But during the holidays, recruiters are asked to attract, find, and hire multiple candidates for similar roles at the same time. Talk about the potential for overload and burnout.

Scheduling can be tricky. Since your jobs are temporary and potentially part-time, you might be working with applicants that are more challenged to accommodate your interview times, such as college students away at school, or full-time workers (just interested in a part-time holiday job) who are busy during typical interview times.  

New hires need to get up to speed quickly. So you’ve just welcomed 10 new part-time holiday workers to the company. Great! But now it’s time to collect their paperwork, review company protocol, and get them acclimated to company culture, all within a fairly short amount of time.

And these are just some of the more obvious challenges that can come with hiring seasonal workers.

Okay, okay. So the holidays are horrible for HR and that’s just the way it is.

Not exactly.

Companies that identify their specific holiday hiring pain points, and invest resources into acquiring the right support and technologies, can achieve hiring that’s truly hassle-free. We’ve got 12 of our own best-practice insights for how to make it happen.

Let’s Take the Hassle Out of Holiday Hiring

12 Strategies to Dominate Recruiting this Season

#1 Take note of last year’s lessons.

Before hiring ramps up, take stock of how things went last year. What about your hiring process do you remember working well? What seemed to be a pain point? More specifically, get into the numbers (and this is where having the right software reporting capabilities is key). How long was your average time to fill for seasonal positions last year? Which sourcing channels did most of your hires come from? Taking an honest look at the numbers will only set you up for more success. Consider, too, that 90 percent of CEOs say it’s important for HR leaders to understand analytics and apply it to their recruitment strategy.[3]

One-third of all job board hires come from niche boards.[3]

#2 Get a little more specific with your job postings.

Generally, the more eyes on a job posting, the better. But that might not be the best approach when posting temporary holiday jobs to general job boards, on which the majority of viewers aren’t interested in applying for seasonal work (or able to). Instead, invest sourcing spend in temporary/part-time job boards, or on social media sites and user groups tailored to those interested in holiday opportunities.

Be sure to monitor these job boards to see on which your best candidates are coming from, and spend on the sources that actually churn out the most qualified applicants, to maximize your returns on investment.

#3 Think about why people would want to work for your company this holiday season, and market it.

Recruiting for seasonal positions might require a little more effort, and a different approach, than recruiting for full-time positions. That’s why you might want to consider recruitment marketing materials that specifically focus on why your company would be a great place to earn some extra money and experience this holiday season. Recruitment marketing is becoming a key part of hiring; more than 50% of job seekers spend between one and four hours researching a company before applying.[4]

How exactly could you market your awesome opportunities? There are a lot of options. You could create a distinct career portal or web page for your holiday hires, start a Twitter hashtag about your holiday openings, spice up your holiday job descriptions with more engaging, benefits-oriented copy, or feature photos and employee quotes from last holiday season. The ultimate goal: give potential applicants a real sense of what would make a work experience at your company worthwhile.

#4 Switch up screening to ensure you’re targeting the right skills.

Think about the busiest day of the holiday season at your company—maybe it’s the evening of December 23rd, or Black Friday. On those high pressure days, what types of skills does your company need from its employees? Chances are, they’re skills that aren’t always called into high demand during other times of the year.

What Traits Do Most Employers Look for in Holiday Hires?

  • - Customer service experience
  • - Ability to multi-task
  • - Experience handling cash/conducting transactions
  • - Flexibility
  • - Special skills that could help customers


That’s why it’s key to screen for applicants who are exceptionally proficient in the skills you know will be critical. Customize your screening questions on your applications, or change up the format of your phone interviews to zero in on certain characteristics. Example: Tell me about a time you delivered exceptional customer service under challenging circumstances.

Consider: It’s not all about the stellar resume: retirees with valuable experience, or high school students that have the ambition and aptitude to learn quickly on the job, are worth a closer look, too. 81% of workers over the age of 60 actually expect to work part-time.[5]

#5 Be all about that tech.

Speed up your recruiting by cutting back on the time it takes to collect candidate information. You know the days of collecting paper resumes are mostly over, but resumes still tend to make an appearance at career fairs and onsite interviews. Help keep yourself organized (and sane) by transitioning to mobile recruitment kiosks to collect candidate information digitally—on the spot. Bring to your college career fairs or keep handy at your various store locations for walk-in applicants.

Getting form submissions electronically, with the help of something like an electronic forms digital library, is also a time saver. If you can get candidates to complete background checks and EEO compliance forms through your online application, you can cut some of the paperwork and consolidate your candidate info into one digital platform (while still staying compliant).

#6 Give preference to your returning candidates.

Save time and effort by referencing those that have been with you at the holidays before. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it does require the ability to easily identify who has previously worked for your company (across locations). In the past five years, 85 percent of HR professionals say they’ve received applications from former employees.[6]

There’s tremendous value in working with those who already know the ropes. It saves you time onboarding, their information is already in your system and their re-application is a sign they feel connected to your company culture. In fact, nearly 40% of managers say that familiarity with company culture is the biggest benefit to rehiring employees.[7] Turn that good will into a phenomenal experience for your customers.

#7 Find ways to spotlight your core company values.

Speaking of customers, customer service is at the core of business success during the holiday season. Stores are crowded, customers are ambitious, sales are competitive, and that can make for customers pre-dispositioned to expect the worst. Your company wants to surprise and delight them with a consumer experience made easy and enjoyable, so finding employees that embody your core company values is key.

Use your own interactions with candidates, whether by email, phone, or in-person, to showcase the types of qualities your company seeks in an employee, and reinforce that through employer branding on your website, career portal, job descriptions, and social media platforms. Every candidate touchpoint is an opportunity to share your core values, and the good news is that today’s candidates are also concerned about finding an employer that aligns with their values.[8]

#8 Ramp up your social hiring.

Holiday hiring is fast-paced, and so is social media. This can make social recruiting a promising strategy for hiring this season. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram let you make free, instantaneous, creative (and did we mention free?) posts about your company openings to a large audience of job seekers. Social media gives you the latitude to share your employer brand in a variety of interactive, shareable ways. You can also use social media as a way to market job opportunities to your employees’ network of connections. With a tool like iCIMS’ Social Distribution, participating employees can have job openings posted directly to their social media profiles at a frequency of their choosing.

Some other savvy social recruiting strategies include:

  • Video: Marketing with video is big; 75% of online video viewers have interacted with an online video ad this month.[9] A quick video that introduces your company, or shows a day in the life of an employee, can make your social recruiting more dynamic and engaging.
  • Interactive posts: Material that lets job seekers engage with content can also be an effective way to diversify your approach. Last year, UPS posted an interactive job map that let job seekers see where the company was hiring for the holidays around the globe, and how many positions were available in each spot.
  • Periscope: This social media app creates the opportunity to give potential applicants a real look inside your company. Live stream snippets from a company celebration or picnic, a walk through the office, or an example of what on-the-job work is really like.

#9 Encourage those valuable employee referrals. 

When speedy hiring is the name of the game, employee referrals can be a lifesaver. Good workers tend to know other good workers, so when current employees can put qualified applicants in touch with you directly, or direct them to your application, that’s valuable. Getting these types of employee referrals starts with cultivating an actual employee referral program—something beyond a mass email to ask your colleagues to think of who they know.

A good employee referral program should be incentivized (cash reward, extra time off, etc.) and should be somewhat standardized with the help of recruiting software. Create a referral section on your career portal, and achieve the ability to track which applicants have been referred by an employee (to give them preference in the review process). One-third of companies say that employee referral programs are their top source of quality hires.[10]

#10 Make it easy for hiring managers to make their pick.

Hiring manager review is shown to be the most time-consuming part of the recruiting process.[11] When you’re sending multiple candidates their way at once for holiday hiring, getting their timely feedback can be even more challenging.  

Improving hiring manager engagement is about finding ways to better collaborate. Meet with the hiring manager directly for each job opening they have, to talk about what specific qualities they’re looking for in an employee in that role. More than half of all recruiters say hiring managers should do a better job of communicating what they’re looking for in a candidate.[12]

Getting the right technology on your side can also create alignment. If your recruitment technology doesn’t offer it already, you might want to think about a solution that gives hiring managers the opportunity to leave direct feedback and notes within your recruiting system, or the ability to accept or reject candidates on their mobile devices. There are even native hiring manager mobile apps, which give hiring managers the ability to review all pertinent information about candidates, make decisions, and even extend offers right from their smartphones or tablets.

#11 Don’t overlook an awesome onboarding experience.

It can be tough to get seasonal employees into the swing of things given the number of new hires you’re bringing on and the general chaos of the season, but we know that ensuring your seasonal workers perform like year-round pros is key to delivering the high level of customer service today’s consumers have come to expect.

Manager satisfaction increases by 20 percent when employees have had formal onboarding training, according to Urban Bound, and organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54 percent greater new hire productivity. -Lesson

Think about ways to streamline and automate parts of your onboarding experience. With electronic paperwork and a personalized onboarding portal, cut time spent signing forms, reading employee handbooks, and listing out objectives the first day on the job; instead, ask new hires to review that beforehand online.

Detail what you expect of the new hire during their first few weeks, and when certain objectives should be met. In retail, onboarding may be highly dependent on hands-on training, but an online portal can still give new hires and their managers a sense of what benchmarks are to be met, and by what date.

#12 Treat your seasonal hires well—they could become your year-round colleagues.

Use holiday hiring as an opportunity to cultivate a pipeline of future applicants. These employees might not be with you in February, but that doesn’t mean they won’t consider you in August when they’re ready for a career change, or in May when they’ve graduated from college.

76% of HR professionals said their companies received strong ROI from using a recruitment marketing automation or CRM tool.

 -iCIMS Hiring Insights

Today’s hiring landscape is competitive (65% of people look at new jobs again 91 days after starting a job)[13], so don’t skimp on a stellar, engaging candidate and new hire experience.

When the holidays are over, provide ways for employees to stay in touch with your company. You could do this by sending regular newsletter emails, adding them to an employee social media group, or flagging them in your system so you can reach out to them first when new opportunities open up. You could also add your former employees to your candidate relationship management tool, if you use one. The way you stay in touch with passive candidates can also be the way you stay in touch with former.

The holiday season may not be the easiest time of year for recruiters, but with well-informed strategies and the support of the right talent acquisition technology, it can be one of the most successful. So how will you hire this holiday season?

How iCIMS Can Help

iCIMS is the leading provider of talent acquisition solutions that help businesses win the war for top talent. iCIMS empowers companies to manage their entire hiring process within the industry’s most robust Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Built on the foundation of a best-to-market talent acquisition software suite, iCIMS’ PaaS framework, UNIFi, allows employers to expand the capabilities of their core talent acquisition technology by integrating with the largest partner ecosystem in talent acquisition to help them attract, find, screen, and manage candidates. Offering scalable, easy-to-use solutions that are backed by award-winning customer service, iCIMS supports more than 3,500 contracted customers and is one of the largest and fastest-growing talent acquisition solution providers. 

[1] Challenger, Gray & Christmas

[2] Adecco

[3] CareerBuilder

[4] iCIMS Hiring Insights

[5] CareerBuilder

[6] CIO

[7] CIO

[8] iCIMS Hiring Insights

[9] Hubspot

[10] LinkedIn

[11] iCIMS Hiring Insights

[12] iCIMS Hiring Insights

[13] Indeed