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How to recruit the best seasonal employees

As many business owners rush to augment their staff to meet the demands of Black Friday and the rest of the busy holiday season, it's important for hiring managers not to lose sight of overall goals.

Any time you bring on a new recruit, it's about more than just getting a warm body in front of a register. Hiring employees is always about finding someone good enough to represent your business.

Seasonal workers can have a huge impact on your business, so don't be lured into making reckless hiring decisions in your haste to save time. As you review the tips below, keep in mind that:

  • Your new hires may be the first and only face new customers and seasonal shoppers see. First impressions are everything.
  • Competent seasonal employees help you bring in the money that keeps you afloat in slow months.
  • Building relationships with your seasonal staff can make it easier to fill positions in the future, whether you need to cover for an employee on maternity leave or need help again for next year’s holiday season.

Write a great job ad

Make it clear that the position you are hiring for is a seasonal position. Many people, including stay-at-home moms, seniors, and students are looking to make extra money around the holidays but aren't looking for full-time work.

For any job ad—seasonal or not—the copy should explain the essential functions of the job. Being too vague about the skills required for the position can generate a lot of extra applications from people not qualified to do the work. Save yourself some time and be thorough.

If possible, give potential candidates some idea how long the temporary position will last and how many hours they can expect to get each week. If you already know what hours you need to fill, put it in the ad.

Make the most of the interview

Use the interview to determine how reliable a potential candidate will be. Holiday is crunch time in retail. If you get a sense that an applicant can't commit to the schedule you need, mark the person off of your list and keep moving. With the stress of the season, the last thing you want is to be floundering to find substitute stockers or cashiers two weeks before Christmas.

Make your business a great place to work

If your business is a great place to work and your full-time employees are happy, you might just get to skip the ad-writing portion of the hiring process. Ask your year-round staff if they know anyone who might want to earn some extra money for the holidays and pursue those leads early.

Finally, happy employees make for a happy business, so you have some added incentive to make sure your business is a great place to work. Smiling faces and a helpful staff make selling your products and services a hundred times easier and bring you a happy and prosperous fourth quarter. 


Alyssa Gregory is a small business consultant, writer, speaker and collaborator who has been helping start and grow small businesses for 13 years. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a free social, educational and collaborative community for small business owners, and author of the Connect Startup Toolboxes currently available on U.S. Bank Connect.

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