Pre-lit trees and dancing Santas are already sharing shelves with pumpkins and turkeys this season, and for the recruiting industry that can only mean one thing: holiday hiring is well underway. The seasonal hiring rush started early this year, with some stores sending out an appeal for seasonal workers even before the back-to-school rush.

In fact, analyst firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts that more than 700,000 seasonal workers will sign on the dotted line this season. That’s well above last year’s total, and it’s the biggest hiring surge we’ve seen since 2015.

So what’s causing the increased demand? And how can you attract quality seasonal workers as we head into the holidays?

What are This Year’s Seasonal Hiring Trends?

Several economic factors have created a higher demand for seasonal workers this year. Let’s take a look at three of the most significant:

  1. Low Unemployment – Job growth and a strong economy have contributed to a 3.7% unemployment rate, which is the lowest we’ve seen in over a decade. Because there are fewer people looking for work, businesses will need to hire additional seasonal workers for positions that haven’t already been filled by permanent employees.
  2. Strong Economy – Holiday sales are expected to increase by at least 4.3% this year, totaling approximately $720 billion. As more people shop, retail stores will need to hire more workers to stock shelves, wrap gifts, work the register, pack boxes, and ship orders.
  3. Online Shopping – An interesting trend we’re seeing this year is that the seasonal hiring surge isn’t limited to the retail sector. Online shopping has created a greater need for additional workers in transportation and logistics companies as well. UPS, for example, is planning to hire 100,000 temporary workers beginning in November. Companies will also need more people to manage online orders, field phone calls, and handle digital needs like marketing, customer service, and website management.

So who’s looking to hire? Most major retailers plan to pad their employee rosters this season, including:

The hiring surge isn’t limited to sales associates, either. While some companies have had to close a percentage of their brick-and-mortar stores due to a shift towards online shopping, experts predict that those jobs will transition into fulfillment centers, warehouses, and transportation companies.

How to Attract The Best Seasonal Workers

It’s a candidate’s hiring market, and the increased demand for workers combined with the current labor shortage has created intense competition heading into Q4. Many employers have sweetened the deal for part-time and temporary workers by offering better pay, employee discounts, and other benefits.

So how can you position yourself as an employer of choice for seasonal workers? Here are 6 ideas to tip the odds in your favor:

  1. Offer Competitive Starting Pay – Minimum wage may not be enough to attract seasonal workers this year. Target, for example, plans to start all new associates at $12.00 per hour. Higher pay rates make your business especially attractive as people look for ways to earn more holiday cash before the end of the year.
  2. Ramp Up Employee Perks – Even if you can’t increase your starting pay significantly, consider offering some additional perks for your employees. Increase your employee discount or take a cue from Kohl’s, which plans to integrate designated Associate Shop days into the holiday calendar.
  3. Offer Additional Hours to Your Current Employees – Many people hope to add more hours over the holidays, and your current employees may be willing to take on extra shifts. Offering the extra hours to team members first can also be good for loyalty and morale.
  4. Polish Your Employer Brand – Your employer brand communicates your reputation as a great place to work, and it can be instrumental in a candidate’s decision-making process. Promote your company culture and share what makes your company unique in your recruitment marketing promotions.
  5. Encourage Employee Referrals. Your current employees can be an excellent source for quality candidate referrals. If you don’t have one already, consider instituting a referral reward program that encourages team members to recommend friends who may be a good fit.
  6. Consider Seasonal Workers for Full-Time Positions – Seasonal hiring has long been considered a first step toward filling full-time positions. If that’s a strategy you want to implement, use it as part of your recruiting promotion. People looking for jobs with benefits may be willing to accept a seasonal position if there is the possibility of transitioning to full-time later on.

Seasonal work attracts a wide variety of people, from college students looking to pay off loans to families earning a little extra cash to cover holiday expenses. No matter how many seasonal workers you plan to hire this season, keep in mind that starting early is one of the best ways to meet the demand. If you haven’t started recruiting yet, now is the time to make your appeal.

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