How to Hire for the Holidays: 10 Seasonal Hiring Tips for SMBs

Last Updated: December 6, 2022

Retailers across the world start preparing for the holiday season as soon as the previous one ends. For many retail businesses, particularly small businesses, sales during the holiday season might reach a third or even half of all yearly sales. This means that a great holiday season of sales can bring your business substantial growth, while a lackluster one can spell disaster.

So it’s with that in mind that many businesses set out to hire more seasonal employees during the holidays. After all, more shoppers mean more inventory coming in and going through your doors, more questions on the retail floor, and more people passing through your checkout area. Ensuring that you have an adequate number of staff members will help you provide a better level of customer service and improve the shopping experience for each of your customers.

So, let’s dive into how to hire seasonal staff. This guide will be especially important for 2022, as businesses across the United States struggle to find new employees.

1. Ask Team Members If They Know Anyone Looking for Seasonal Work

Start with a word-of-mouth campaign among your family, friends, and existing staff members. It’s likely that most of your employees know a few people who are looking for work so check with them before anything else.

Avoiding having to advertise your seasonal job listings will save your time and money. Plus, it’ll benefit your business in other ways down the line. Your team members will feel valued through helping your hiring process, onboarding and training will be easier, and new hires will likely be more engaged and motivated having a friend at the business.

2. Advertise That You’re Hiring Seasonally

After you’ve exhausted word-of-mouth resources, you’ll likely need to post a job listing online. All retailers are likely familiar with the basics of this one – Monster, Indeed, etc. Even the free versions of these platforms are remarkably useful for reaching a larger audience and keeping the process seamless and organized.

But beyond that, what many small businesses forget, is to advertise on their existing marketing platforms. Advertise job listings across all social media, particularly LinkedIn. If, for nothing else, this will show your followers that your business is growing and thriving.

Leverage email marketing channels, too. Running highly segmented campaigns can help get you in front of the right eyes. 

Some businesses may even want to run paid ad campaigns on Google and Bing, social media channels, or other PPC platforms. 

On each of these channels, you have the luxury of keeping it simple and direct. No need to plan a massive campaign or draw up a bunch of new creative. Just put it out there and simply let everyone know.

3. Don’t Be Generic

When advertising that you’re hiring, stay away from trite phrases and descriptions. It’s important to stand out from your competition – and when it comes to hiring seasonal employees during the holidays, there will be a whole lot.

Be creative with this process. There is no need to keep seasonal job listings standard and highly professional. Feel free to make them funny and catch more eyes. Plus, this is a great opportunity to represent the personality behind your brand and company culture. Doing so will make job seekers more likely to apply and be excited about the position.

4. Reach Out to Past Holiday Employees

Most retail businesses have hired additional employees during past holiday seasons. If you’re one of those businesses, reach out to these contacts to see if they’re interested in returning.

Focus on those that seemed to particularly enjoy the job in years past. Like hiring friends and family of existing staff, hiring former employees will save you time and money during onboarding and training processes. Most of these people will be able to jump right into the job and be productive.

5. Highlight Your Existing Team Members

Another way to bring your existing team members into the process is by showcasing them on your website or ad campaigns. Doing so will effortlessly demonstrate why your business is a good one for which to work.

Use pictures with actual quotes from your team or, better yet, videos to show prospective employees why people enjoy working there. It’s important to give them an idea of what the job entails so they can go in with some expectations.

6. Offer More Incentives for Holiday Work

Many businesses are now offering new seasonal hires bigger incentives for seasonal work. Remember that it’s a big ask to get people to work throughout the holidays, particularly if you’re requiring work on the holidays themselves and late-night shifts. 

Think about easy ways to sweeten the pot. The easiest way to do so is with money, of course. Many companies are offering upfront bonuses, higher hourly rates, benchmark bonuses (bonuses at 1-month, 2-month, etc. stages), significant store discounts, and more.

7. How to Hire for the Holidays with the Interview Process

Start the process early so that you can conduct a thorough interview process. It’s important not to rush the hiring or training process so that you can maximize performance once each person begins the job.

Weed out weak or fake resumes at the beginning. Conduct some phone interviews to further whittle down the field. And when it comes time for the interview, be sure to plan ahead of time and be prepared for each candidate.

Aside from the quality of the candidate, be sure to address the temporary nature of the role as well as availability/flexibility. And remember that the holiday season is your busiest – ask candidates about how they handle various difficult situations in retail.

See Related: How to Hire in Retail

8. Find Seasonal Workers with Flexible Schedules

Speaking of flexibility, this is perhaps the most important item to consider aside from the anticipated performance of the individual.

Most retailers change their store hours during the holiday months. And some are even open for extended weekend hours, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Check to see if applicants have any existing travel plans or other work obligations so that you can work them into your broader schedule for the season.

Ask about long-term interest, too. You may not have the ability to bring on staff members past the holiday season, but if you can, prioritize hiring those who are interested in continuing to work with you.

9. Look for Experience and Enthusiasm

Even though you might be desperate to find seasonal work, don’t hire just anyone that applies. And even though they might be temporary team members, they still represent your company and must offer excellent customer service to each of your guests.

Being helpful and communicative with your customers is the most important aspect of customer service during the holidays. Shoppers are often stressed and in a rush. Helping them find what they’re looking for and through your checkout is of the utmost importance. Retail workers with past experience and strong enthusiasm are much more likely to provide this kind of service to each and every customer. Look for candidates who clearly show an interest in what you sell and how you sell it.

10. Having a Training Plan in Place

Once your new employees begin work, it’s important to have an organized, tested, and proven training program. You don’t want new staff to have any confusion about their role, schedule, or expectations. 

Lean on your best existing employees to help with this process. No one can teach a job better than someone who is already doing it full-time. Plus, this will help new staff bond with existing staff.

Think about what tasks will be best to start with and what will be better to learn with time. Training should be planned meticulously and well-organized to avoid confusion and frustration among new staff members. Create an employee handbook and specific benchmarks and goals for each new team member.

Holiday Retail Hiring Final Tips and Tricks

Overall, remember to create a fun and energetic work environment. Doing so will make it more fun for you and your team. And it will help you find the best seasonal work out there.

Once you bring your team on, make sure that you have a retail point of sale that can seamlessly add new employees and doesn’t come with a big learning curve. To try KORONA POS and learn more about our employee management features, click below.

About the Author

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Michael Chalberg

Michael has long focused his writing on the world of retail and small businesses. He''s been a part of the KORONA POS team since 2018 and loves helping entrepreneurs find ways to adapt and succeed. In his spare time, you'll likely find him hiking somewhere in the Southwest.