Prepare Yourself: Holiday Recruiting in Tight Market

October 19, 2018

Fun Fact: retail companies, such as Kohl’s and J.C. Penney department stores, started holiday hire recruitment efforts as far back as August, and the number of hires has doubled since last year. In fact, prominent job site Indeed had almost 1 million holiday jobs posted as of mid August. The factors driving this are a shrinking labor market and the lowest unemployment rate on record (3.8% as of October 1). The 2018 Annual Holiday Hiring Survey conducted by Snag of 1,000 U.S. retail, restaurant and hospitality companies revealed the need for employers to recruit earlier and pay higher hourly wages for seasonal workers.

An Extremely Robust Holiday Season

The stiff labor market has spurred employers to think about the holidays and its competitive landscape earlier than ever before. In addition to many retail outlets continuing to open their stores on Thanksgiving Day to boost Black Friday sales, many companies are beefing up their workforces by hiring more seasonal employees – and earlier. The firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas is projecting that the retail giant Target plans to hire 120,000 seasonal workers nationwide, the most ever recorded, a number that matched Amazon’s hiring goal for last year. In 2017, employers tried to get ahead of the fierce holiday landscape by hiring more customer service and remote representatives to handle the ever-growing e-commerce market. Experts anticipate this trend will continue for this year.

How to Attract the Best and Most Skilled

The Snag survey reports 84% of employers are planning hiring increases and 77% are getting creative by wooing this tight pool of skilled workers with higher hourly wages, as well as other benefits and perks. In fact, hourly wages for these workers are expected to rise by 32%, or $3.70 per hour; retail is expected to lead the pack with a 54% growth, with the hospitality sector a close second at 51%, and the restaurant industry at a respectable 33%.

A proactive and targeted strategy to attract workers and fortify their skills is in these companies’ best interests. This sentiment is echoed by Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright, when she wrote, “Employers want to attract the top talent before their competitors do, and seasonal workers offer employers the ability to test out new employees before hiring them as year-round, contingent or permanent hires.” This could be achieved, Henderson suggests, through streamlining onboarding processes by automating some steps of the process in order to get workers trained quickly. A new tactic that has become prevalent as well is utilizing social media to recruit seasonal workers. All of this data suggests that the key to success for the holidays is to have started early and recruit shrewdly.


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