They don’t call it ‘Christmas in July’ for nothing. Sure, summer’s middle month is primetime for big discounts as retailers try to move out leftover stock and make room for new additions. It’s also the time of year when stores (should) start making their hiring strategy for the holiday season that runs October – January. 


Fact: The National Retail Federation says more retailers will invest in fulfillment and customer service positions this holiday season to keep online shoppers happy with quick customer service. 

If you’re already a month behind, don’t fret. Follow these industry secrets to ensure you have a holly jolly holiday hiring season. 

1.) Review last year’s hits and misses – Were last year’s seasonal workers a bunch of grinches? Or did you find yourself with an extraordinary set of elves? However the season played out, now’s the time to look back and examine your hiring process. How did you advertise, interview and select your candidates? Did you have any difficulties juggling their schedules? Were adequately covered in the front and back of the house? Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of last year’s hiring process and the subsequent season and use that info to draft this year’s plan.

Fact: A 2013 CareerBuilder survey showed that 39% percent of retail hiring managers reported planning to hire seasonal workers, up from 36 percent in 2012 and 29 percent in 2011.

2.) Engage now to compete with the big boys – If you’re a mom-and-pop shop, you can’t afford to wait until you hang the mistletoe to hire your fill-ins. Big box stores and retail giants with more than 2,500 employees start their seasonal hiring process super early so if you want a healthy crop of applicants you better start looking soon. One of the best ways to do this is tapping into your local network. Who are your favorite and most loyal customers? Would they like to work for you? Do any of your current employees have a friend or family member looking for a seasonal gig? Whose following you on social media? Would they like to take over your social media stuff so you can concentrate on in-store customer service? 

Fact: Last year, comScore found that 21 percent of Black Friday online sales and 17 percent of Cyber Monday online sales came directly from mobile devices. 

3.) Follow GameStop’s lead – If you can afford it, consider investing in a social recruiting software system. That’s what retail gaming giant GameStop did after realizing its home grown hiring system wasn’t working well anymore. Now, with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) technology, GameStop’s hires are coming already gift-wrapped.   This is especially useful during the holiday season when everyone is looking to ramp up in-store talent and GameStop’s employees have to be extremely knowledgeable on a niche subject – video games. 

Fact: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that hourly positions make up nearly 60% of the U.S. workforce.

4.) Think long term but be open to short term commitments – Always ask applicants  what their job goals are and be clear about what yours are. If you need employees who are open to change on a moment’s notice, then it’s your responsibility to make that point during an interview. If you don’t and the employee doesn’t last, it’s not their fault. To that end, if you’re hoping to attract some permanent employees from your seasonal hiring pool, tell candidates that. You might just be surprised at how many are looking to turn temporary into full-time. As this Monster article describes it: “same time, next year” candidates will have you rejoicing, ‘Happy New Year!’

Fact: Implementing routine training opportunities for your seasonal workers will help them stay on task and in line with your goals. This is crucial for sales and/or product information positions, Jim Kiriwan, owner of Try Sports, told

5.) Partner with a background screening firm – Now is not the time to skimp on important on-boarding processes like background checks. Not only do you want to keep your workplace safe, but you want to follow all employment and compliance laws. Since it can be hard to keep up with the pace of hiring AND these HR processes, outsourcing your screening needs can provide you more time to deck the halls properly. Check out our extensive and affordable list of solutions now to secure your holiday staffing screening needs. 

What other tips do you think retailers should know about? Have any specific holiday hiring strategies worked well for you in the past? We’d love to hear about them. Shoot us a comment below!

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