Last year, between November and December, there was a spike in hourly job postings on all major job boards in Canada. This included a 28% increase in hospitality hiring and a 12.5% increase in retail hiring. The market, in seasonal fashion, was being flooded with postings due to increased retail hiring needs. Upon further analysis we found visitor traffic during that specific time period held the lowest visitor volume on the major job boards. This indicated that during the highest period of hiring needs, the market demand to find employment was at its lowest yearly point. Therefore, organizations who use a reactive retail hiring strategy and are waiting to recruit for their seasonal roles are left struggling to find candidates and fighting for those that do exist.

Organizations are left competing for the same talent against all other local employers who are also using a reactive approach. During this time, candidates have a vast array of options and we know from experience that candidates with multiple options translate into increased no show rates for interviews, often accepting other employment or withdrawing from the interview process altogether. Additionally, these candidates are in a position to bargain with multiple offers on the table.

Great candidates think ahead.

By taking a reactive recruitment approach, candidates on the market that proactively look for employment are non-existent. Many organizations look for opportunities to “top-grade” their talent from their seasonal retail hires or keep top performers. Through proper planning, you can engage with the right talent and properly qualify them, instead of creating a time-crunch with forced hires based on what is available quickly rather than best-fit candidates.

In addition, many organizations lower their hiring standards because the roles they are trying to fill are short-term. The drawback is that most often these roles are being hired for are at a peak season which means there is more customer exposure to these new hires. By holding the same standards in candidate quality for seasonal roles as you do permanent roles, organizations can deliver premium service and create a similar experience from anyone representing your brand.

Expand your reach.

Job boards are great for the active candidate audience and many companies that react to hiring needs often rely predominantly on them. However, by planning ahead and diversifying your reach, you can tap into candidates that are thinking ahead or are employed but are looking and open to change.

Additional tactics organizations can use include ramping up an employee referral program that empowers employees to promote and share opportunities to their networks. Also, contacting niche groups that may tap into your target audience based on other areas of interest ideal candidates have and building connections with these groups to further promote awareness of your retail hiring needs.

Building a walk-in strategy is also important if your customers are also your target audience. By ramping up your in-store experience including signage, hiring cards, in store announcements and engaging in conversations with customers that could make great employees, organizations can engage candidates to apply. In addition, investing in student recruitment is very important in the hourly market. In recent research conducted by Mindfield, we have found that students make great part-time and seasonal employees. When hiring part time staff, students are 26% less likely to turnover in the first 3-months than non-students.

Treat candidates like customers.

Make sure that your application process and careers site are user and mobile friendly, making it simple for candidates to apply. Be sure that you act quickly on candidates and create a great experience regardless of the outcome. If a candidate is not a fit, close the loop with a rejection communication thanking them for their interest. Remember, every potential candidate is a potential customer.