Seven tips for hiring an extraordinary seasonal staff


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Hopefully you’re well on your way to assembling your holiday team, but if you haven’t finished I’ve got some ideas and thoughts for you.

1. Hire extraordinary people. Too many specialty retailers compromise when they hire for the holidays. That’s fine if you’re putting the seasonal person in charge of the remote stockroom that never sees the light of day, but if your seasonal staff works the floor they have to be really good. Fear not, you’ll find extraordinary people to hire during the holidays as long as you believe that it’s possible.

Here’s why you need extraordinary seasonal help: Most of your customers don’t know or care who is and isn’t a seasonal sales associate. Call it fate, but I swear the customers with the most money always end up being helped by seasonal people.

2. Contact every former employee who left in good standing. Most stores think to call last year’s seasonal employees, but you have a much bigger pool than that. Reach out to every former employee, as long as they left in good standing, and ask if they’re interested in a holiday position. These are people who might not be thinking about working a seasonal job, but many of them will consider it once they’re asked. And these people are almost always more productive and will get up to speed much more quickly.

3. Recruit your customers and/or their friends. Who better to work in your store this holiday season than someone who already knows the products and people? Yes, I know of horror stories about good customers who wash out as seasonal help and never come back, but those are the exception and not the rule.

Let your customers know via Facebook and in your newsletter that you’re looking for people to join your holiday team. Be sure and ask them to share the post or newsletter with friends as well. Your customers can be some of your best recruiters.

4. Pay exceptionally well. You usually get what you pay for. Usually! We’ve all had some nightmare holiday hires but most of the time, if we seek out and find really good people they deserve to be paid well. They really do pay for themselves.

I find that an hourly rate with an incentive bonus works well. It can also be beneficial to pay a retention bonus if the employee works through the end of the year. That keeps people from leaving when you need them most.

5. Reward your permanent employees for recruiting seasonal employees. I like to pay a two-part seasonal recruiting bonus. I’ll pay out the first half to the permanent employee when the person they’ve recruited is hired. If the seasonal employee makes it through the holidays I’ll pay out a second bonus. This method gives the permanent employee a vested interest in the success of the person he/she recruits.

Stores or chains that need to hire a number of seasonal people can motivate their employees by having a drawing for a single large prize. I knew a retailer that offered a recruiting contest with a top prize of $1,000. Permanent employee won an entry into the drawing every time one of their recruits was hired. The more people a staffer recruited, the higher their chance to win.

6. Consider hiring specialists. Bank employees make great cashiers. Outside sales reps make good retail salespeople. A college student might only work peak hours and sell only a single line or specific products. It’s much easier to have extraordinary seasonal employees when they’re narrowly focused and aren’t expected to be a jack-of-all-trades.

7. Use a group interview process. Instead of trying to schedule a bunch of one-on-one interviews, do a phone interview with the applicants and if you like them invite them to a group interview. I know it sounds strange, but it really works. It not only saves you time, you can easily see who stands out among the group.

Make the interview a fun experience. Have people team up. Do some roleplaying and sales/service scenarios. Have the applicants interview each other. Involve your permanent employees. The best part is that people who really don’t want to work retail will be unable to hide that fact, aiding you (and them, too) in making your hiring decisions.

So let me ask, which ideas can you apply immediately to help assemble your extraordinary seasonal team?


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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