Hiring seasonal workers should seem simple. You put a ‘Help Wanted’ sign in your storefront. People pop in to ask for an application. You schedule an interview. They show up (on time), look appropriate (business casual), and don’t use foul language. Voila – they’re hired (pending a background check by Active Screening, of course)!
This approach, however, just fills your open positions with warm bodies. What you really need, and want, around the holidays are dynamic, short-term workers who will learn quickly, think on their feet, multitask, be flexible and sell, sell, sell!
Lucky for you we’ve identified five types of winning people to fill your seasonal positions. You may have looked past the people previously, but we’re here to tell you that these are the folks you want on your sales floor and behind your registers. You can thank us later.
Moms sometimes get a bad rap because of their crazy schedules but they (and by ‘they’ I mean ‘we’ because I’m a working mom) are queens at multi-tasking, persuading, convincing, and handling a lot of responsibility. Anyone who can handle three kids at a public pool when only one of them can swim on their own, can easily cater to a roomful of restaurant patrons or master a frenzied fitting room. Despite so-called ‘baby brain,’ moms can retain an incredible amount of information and are dynamite with names because of all the learning on the fly done at playdates. If you are a boutique shop who has a loyal customer base, hiring a mom makes perfect sense because moms will quickly develop relationships with your clients and remember their names, likes and dislikes.
Holiday Tip: If you’re scheduling allows it, consider offering mom-friendly shifts around prominent nap times. Many kids nap somewhere between noon and 3 pm so offering some shifts before and after that afternoon slot might work well.
Most of this subculture is cash-strapped, used to crappy hours and have boundless energy. These are the folks you want on your sales floor or working as stockists. The trick here is to hire the right type of college student for your business. A big brand clothing store will want someone who not only knows a thing or two about clothes, but who has shopped the brand before. A purveyor of kitchenware might consider hiring someone studying culinary arts who can talk about their experiences with the equipment with customers. A shipping warehouse might have the best of luck with a night owl who can trade studying for all-nighters with organizing boxes.
Holiday Tip: During the interview, make sure to ask when the student must return to school. Some schools have a brief 3-week holiday break while others don’t have to return until February.
WANNABES (actors, singers, musicians, artists)
Despite all the callouts for singing Santa Claus’s, this resource isn’t tapped into nearly enough. These talented folks know how to put on a good show, even when they’re having a bad day, or worse yet, your holiday shoppers have experienced a bummer of a day. Who better to lighten up a line filled with cranky folks than a funny gal who knows a thing or two about punchlines? If you’re an independent store with a good front, considering hiring an artist to round out your window display. Their artwork may be just the eye-catcher you need to pull in some new bodies.
Holiday Tip: Inviting high school choirs to perform in store can calm some shoppers nerves. Those same students just might remember singing for their supper at your shop when they’re college students looking for that seasonal gig.
Loss prevention is a biggie around the holidays. Who better to keep an eye out for criminals than those men and women already trained in the pursuit? Plus, many law enforcement officers and security guards are used to working strange shifts at odd hours so if that’s what you have to offer, you might get more applicants than you think.
Holiday Tip: Most law enforcement agents have endured lengthy and thorough background checks which should make your background check process smoother.
The goal of the holiday shopping season is to maximize your profits, right? Then it makes sense to hire people who want to shop your store, especially those who you know will use their employee discount. Most retail clothing stores have a requirement that employees must wear what’s in season so they’re guaranteed that income, but hiring someone who plainly confesses they want to buy their entire family’s holiday gifts from your store is a smart move. Chances are they’ll end up spending more in your store than what you’ll pay them through the short season.
Holiday Tip: This is a great strategy for multi-purpose stores who sell a wide variety of home furnishings and clothing and renovation accessories. Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel, and West Elm are just a few big brand names that come to mind. You’d need to check their hiring policies first, though.
Talk about abundance. This is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of employees available to tap due to aging baby boomers. They are typically very hard workers and eager to learn. In addition, they bring a boon of experience – both work and life – that you, and their co-workers, might find compelling. One final plus of the boomers is that they thoroughly enjoy flexibility, which means you can use them as much or as little as you wish and they can still enjoy their retirement while banking some extra cash.
Holiday Tip: Make sure you ask the retiree about his/her previous jobs to find out if there’s a special talent they have that would suit your company. For example, maybe someone lists Microsoft as a former employer but when you investigate further, you find that they spearheaded a training program for young professionals straight out of college. Those mentor skills could come in handy at your company long after the season runs out.
Have you had any luck hiring a particular group of people during the holidays? If so, we’d love to hear about it!