Holiday Hiring: Lessons Retailers Can Teach Us About Contract Labor

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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November 12, 2015

For most of us the holidays are a time of joy and maybe even some rest, but what if you have to hire during the holidays? We can learn a lot from our friends in retail. They have to hire thousands in time for the holiday rush. How do they do it? Preparation for one.

According to Challenger, Grey and Christmas, 2015 retailers will hire around the same number as last year: 755,000 or so. That’s a lot of hiring. Many other industries have increased hiring needs through the holidays, or experienced fluctuating demands throughout the year. The question for both retailers and non-retailers is how to manage recruiting and hiring when you have to act fast.

We’ve gathered a few tips from retailers that you can draw on to help you cope with a “hiring season” at your company.


Don’t go it alone

Retailers hire a lot during the holidays, but even during non-holiday times, they sometimes need help. Often the quickest and most efficient way to accelerate hiring is to hand off the process to someone else who specializes in meeting demand on schedule.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) relieve organizations from sourcing, vetting, hiring, and onboarding (this is a big one!) temporary workers for a project or a yearly event. An MSP solution ensures you have the talent you need when you need it with a quicker time to hire, freeing you to think big picture, and ensuring a smoother hiring and onboarding process.


Build it before you need it

On Black Friday, all large retailers have a few things in common: big sales, shelves stocked with the hottest gifts, and sidewalk-winding lines. The difference in how those early morning (or late night) store openings play out is the quality of the staff, many of whom are temporary workers. These workers were sourced weeks or months ahead of time in order to ensure the right talent in large numbers before the big day.

By building a channel of available and able talent, you can quickly ramp up hiring so you’re fully staffed at the right time. Whether you need to staff up a call center before the busy season, add a team of developers to accelerate a new video game, or even assemble a social media team to promote an upcoming event, using an MSP or Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider allows your organization to tap into broad networks of candidates. This is especially beneficial for creating avenues to quality highly-specialized workers that need to be on-boarded quickly and efficiently.


Think about scale

It’s a fact that Black Friday, and now Cyber Monday, are the most important shopping days for retailers in the U.S. But retailers don’t need all of that help weeks after the holiday rush is over, so they scale back hiring as temporary workers are no longer needed.

This happens for many other organizations as well—the business cycle will dictate your hiring. An RPO program can add or subtract recruiters working on your behalf to match hiring efforts to your demand. Scaling up or down permits you to optimize your suppliers and hiring for a more efficient process as a whole. By using a partner, you’ll also gain the power to cut back on excessive dollars spent on staffing in-house recruiters who may be overworked leading up to a busy season and underutilized after the fact. This can also save on fees paid to placement agencies that can crush your budget at unexpected times.


Just like in retail, customer demand, major events, changes in your business, project or seasonal fluctuations must often be matched by increased hiring. By employing a variety of recruiting strategies, including RPO and MSP solutions, talent acquisition leaders will be better equipped to staff up for big projects and tasks to ensure the success of their company at a time when they are needed the most.

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This blog was written by Matt Rivera. Matt serves as Vice President, Marketing and Communications and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Yoh’s marketing and brand communications. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and has been working in the staffing industry for more than 25 years. Prior to this role, Matt held many different roles from branch recruiting and proposal writing to technology management and online marketing.

Topics: HR Strategies

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