Seasonal Jobs

5 things to consider when hiring for seasonal jobs

5 min read
Deborah Sweeney

‘Tis the season for holiday hiring. This year, the National Retail Federation predicts that retailers will hire between 640,000 and 690,000 workers for seasonal jobs, right in line with 2015’s seasonal hiring boom for 675,300 positions. As small businesses gear up to bring on new team members, they’ll be flooded with résumés and might not know what to look for in a short-term applicant.

No matter what industry you’re in, here are five things to consider when hiring seasonal employees.

1. Check for signs that the applicant did their homework.

Chances are pretty high that anyone who applied to work with you probably applied for other seasonal jobs, too. This is your opportunity to see how the applicant tailored their résumé for the needs of your position versus copying and pasting the same résumé across the board.

Keep an eye out for résumés and/or cover letters that show signs of interest in your company.

Take note of those who offer actionable tips for meeting the needs of the job listing. This highlights how aware of your brand a potential new hire is, which is always an attractive trait no matter what the season might be.

2. Bullet points that act as a “best of” career reel.

What makes them different? Why should they be hired for this position? Even seasonal jobs deserve competent employees. Potential hires have less than a page to show off their hard work — and that’s all you need to make a decision for a seasonal role.

Look for résumés that utilize a “best of,” career-reel approach.

This means searching for bullet points that highlight and detail how the applicant demonstrated initiative, as well as helped solve problems in past, relevant positions. Pay close attention to any examples from applicants of self-initiated projects they took on that might have been risky, but paid off. Any résumé that documents this demonstrates that the applicant is driven to keep going and push for success, no matter what role they are hired for, which makes for an incredibly valuable hire.

3. Single out buzzwords that matter.

Across the board, résumés containing the following buzzwords will call attention to the applicant and how much of an asset they could be to your team.

Coach. Coaches do more than help lead a team to success. They take the time to rally people together and encourage everyone to play to their strengths. When you see this buzzword, you know you’re looking at an applicant who knows how to build up morale, look out for everyone, and never give up.

Leadership. Skim past résumés where applicants trail on about how they’re “born leaders,” but have nothing in their work history to show for it.

Focus on finding meaty examples that tell their story.

Keep a watchful eye out for anyone who pairs a senior past position with commentary about the duties they have completed. You might also want to encourage applicants to include references with their applications so you have someone to reach out to concerning the applicant’s skill set.

Someone who likes to get their hands dirty. This phrase is an oldie but goodie when it comes to résumés. It shows that the person applying is willing to go above and beyond what is asked or required (which often happens during the busy holiday season) of them, and that they fully embrace the opportunity to prove themselves.

4. Proof that the applicant can adapt quickly.

As a small business owner, you don’t take the phrase “hit the ground running” lightly — especially during the holiday season. While it’s a given that any applicant hired will receive training for the seasonal position they’re hired for, it’s an unspoken agreement that the hire needs to be a fast and willing learner.

Fill seasonal jobs with applicants who are driven and work well on the fly.

Be on the lookout for résumés that illustrate skills used to keep calm and collected when surrounded by holiday pandemonium. How did they help satisfy an upset customer while attending to the needs of everyone else? Did they stay late even if it wasn’t required to finish wrapping up some extra duties? What about their attitude? Was it cheerful and enthusiastic or patient and understanding?

Proof of this kind of behavior tends to edge out career highlights in résumés, because a lot will happen that is unexpected. And during the most wonderful time of the year, you’ll want to fill seasonal jobs with someone who can take the unexpected and turn it around so it works in favor of your business.

5. The possibility that seasonal jobs can turn into full-time employment.

Over the last three years, UPS has brought on 37 percent of their seasonal hires as full-time permanent employees. While deciding whether or not to bring on a seasonal hire full-time will ultimately be contingent on the nature of the business, there’s always that possibility to consider.

If the employee has a proven track record for putting in hard work daily with a good attitude, they’re the ones you’ll want to hold onto in the long run. Keep your eyes peeled for applicants with résumés that are tailored for the role — even better if they highlight what they can do for the business to help it grow in the holiday season and beyond.