Hiring Seasonal Employees in 7 Easy Steps
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Many companies rely on seasonal workers to help keep operations going and customers satisfied during spikes in business activity (such as the holiday season for retailers or tax season for accounting firms). When hiring seasonal employees, you should start recruitment early and work to develop a pipeline of high-quality seasonal talent.
Let’s take a closer look at these and other steps that will make your seasonal hiring a success.
Step 1: Start Recruitment Early
Whether your busy season is in the summer, during the holidays, or when the snow hits at the ski resort, your company has competitors for these seasonal workers. Beginning the hiring process early in your season—two to three months before you wish to fill the role—is essential, as there is not always enough help to go around.
If you wait too late to start the hiring process, you may find yourself short-staffed when you need the support the most. Getting an early start will allow you time to review resumes, conduct interviews, and train new employees.
Step 2: Develop a Seasonal Worker Pipeline
Many employers who hire seasonal workers each year can develop a worker pipeline—where many of the same employees return from season to season. Not only are former employees easy to rehire, but they are already trained and understand their roles.
There are ways to court the seasonal workers you would like to see return to the workplace during seasonal spikes:
- Treat them with a spirit of value: Many seasonal workers are used to feeling disposable since their average time with a company is brief. Be the employer that stands out—and they will return.
- Offer season-ending bonuses: Offering a bonus of any size will be remembered. This rule applies to all industries and businesses, from childcare services or construction companies to food service businesses or holiday retail shops.
- Check in early: As referenced in step 1, do not wait until your busy season is taking off to touch base with last year’s top-performing seasonal workers. By contacting them early, you give them time to arrange their schedules so they can work for you again year after year.
- Provide special arrangements for top performers: If you have identified seasonal workers that you simply cannot live without, offer the best shifts or a slight raise for their returning experience.
Step 3: Create a Clear Job Description Targeting Candidates Looking for Seasonal Work
A clearly written job description that outlines the role and how its seasonal status relates to other types of employment at the company will help attract the right candidates. In addition to the specifics of the job, include the following in your job description:
- Seasonally related language: Use relevant keywords such as “seasonal” and “temporary” and indicate the job’s timeframe.
- Benefits and perks: Most seasonal jobs do not have conventional healthcare benefits but may have other perks like product discounts and holiday bonuses. Be upfront with what is and is not offered with the job.
- Skills and requirements: As with any job description, outlining the purpose of the seasonal role, requirements for the job, and the skills needed are all critical to a complete job description.
For help creating a seasonal job description visit our article on How to Write a Job Description + Free Template.
Step 4: Write a Compelling Job Ad
A job ad, which can be a condensed version of the job description, quickly highlights the position’s duties, location, hours, and pay rate. It should be compelling and stand out from the other ads offering similar opportunities. Adhere to these tips to create the best job ad:
- Describe your company
- Clearly outline the timeframe of the position
- Highlight important job responsibilities
- Define the location for the position
- Outline the hours required
- Include the hourly rate
- Include a “how to apply” section
For help creating a seasonal job ad visit our article on How to Advertise a Job in 4 Simple Steps.
Step 5: Use a Variety of Recruitment Methods
Knowing where to find seasonal workers can be a challenge as it may be difficult to find them by only posting on general job sites. Although you can find some seasonal employment ads, job seekers have to work a little harder to ensure they are looking at seasonal jobs and not regular or longer-term positions.
There are specific job boards and other resources you can tap into when looking for seasonal workers. They are not all the same and target different worker groups with different goals, needs, and earning expectations.
- Current employee referrals: To attract new seasonal employees to your organization, consider employee referrals. In many cases, your employees have acquaintances that may need extra hours during the holidays or throughout the summer (this is when students are temporarily entering the workforce).
- Mobile platforms: Seasonal workers (especially minors) utilize mobile platforms to locate job opportunities. These workers are typically tech-savvy and primarily use mobile apps and mobile-optimized sites to connect with would-be employers.
- College and university job boards: College or university job boards reach thousands of potential candidates. These job boards include all work types, but seasonal work is one of the largest categories.
- Career pages: Your career page is an important tool during your peak season. Many workers will check company career pages to locate seasonal opportunities ahead of time.
Step 6: Onboard Seasonal Workers
Onboarding seasonal workers is just as important as onboarding your regular employees. It provides them with the knowledge and skills to successfully perform their job.
Develop a simple, easy-to-maintain program that onboards your seasonal workers quickly and efficiently. Some tips to make things go smoothly include:
- Prepare new hire paperwork: Create a new hire checklist to ensure you have all required paperwork before or on their first day.
- Adjust workers’ compensation: Do not forget to adjust your workers’ compensation coverage to accommodate seasonal workers.
- Outline expectations: Be sure to explain the position and train your seasonal employees to be successful at their jobs.
Step 7: Classify Seasonal Workers & Their Overtime Eligibility
Ensuring that you are classifying your seasonal workers properly is as important as classifying your regular employees properly. The Department of Labor requires proper and accurate classification, whether seasonal, temporary, or regular employees. For example, you do not want to classify a nonexempt seasonal position as exempt, which generally exempts the employee within the role from earning overtime.
Most seasonal workers will fall under the category of nonexempt and be eligible for overtime due to the fact that they are generally part-time employees. However, some will be considered exempt, especially if they are working full time during their seasonal employment or your business only operates during certain times of the year. These may include:
- Administrative assistants
- Tax preparers
- Amusement park workers
- Recreational workers (i.e., golf course, swimming pool, summer camp, etc.)
Keep in mind that when hiring minors for seasonal positions, specific rules must be followed, such as working hours and ineligibility to work hazardous jobs.
Why Companies Use Seasonal Workers
Companies referred to as “seasonal employers” generally require varied employee headcount throughout the year. The nature of their business demands that when seasonal work spikes, they can hire quickly and temporarily to cover the needs associated with the seasonal spike. When workers are no longer needed, they are let go.
Many industries commonly utilize seasonal workers each year. Examples include:
- Personal care and services
- Food services
- General office/administrative
- Seafood processing
- Warehousing, transportation, utilities
- Federal government
- Ski resorts
- Swimming pools
- Summer camps
Typically, seasonal workers are hired for a few months at a time. This planned fluctuation of employment results in lowered payroll costs, reduced insurance premiums for the business, and an overall reduction in liability for things like workers’ compensation and benefits.
Hiring seasonal employees can greatly enhance your ability to harvest and process products and staff for heavier workloads during your busiest time of year. Knowing how to find seasonal workers and how best to onboard them can give your company an advantage over your competition.
Start early, keep in contact with top seasonal talent, and make sure you have all your bases covered before putting people to work—and you will make the most out of your busiest and most profitable time of year.