The State of Holiday Hiring in 2019: Questions Answered

2018 saw a surge of holiday hiring in the United States, with more than 700,000 positions open. The Palmer Forecast predicts an even greater demand for seasonal workers this season. Unfortunately, the need for additional talent is clashing with the current unemployment rate in the country, which remains very low at 3.1%.

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I had a chance to ask David White, Director of Recruiting at Adecco, a few questions about holiday hiring this year.

HR Daily Advisor: How challenging would you characterize holiday hiring to be this year for employers?

White: The labor market has been remarkably tight for a while now, and we’re seeing this low unemployment rate impacting hiring efforts. Because there are more job openings than there are candidates, companies have to be competitive in order to find talent. We’re noticing an uptick in candidate ghosting, whereby candidates will initially accept the job offer and then end up choosing a more competitive offer from another company.

HR Daily Advisor: What challenges do employers face? Are they different from other years?

White: This year is a little different because of the compressed timeline between holidays. Companies only have 4 weeks to execute deliveries, but that means they get 1 extra week of recruiting, so we’re seeing companies spacing out or delaying hiring, which was reflected in October’s job numbers. Companies are also getting smarter about onboarding efforts in order to increase productivity quicker, given this year’s compressed timeline.

HR Daily Advisor: Aren’t temp roles always hard to fill?

White: Not necessarily. We’re seeing that companies are having more success with grassroots hiring efforts, which could be anything from flyers to networking within the community. We’ve also noticed companies loosening their hiring requirements and offering on-the-job training in order to fill positions.

Tips for Hiring

Vinita Venkatesh, VP of Product Marketing at Mya Systems, has some tips on how to prepare your business for the holiday hiring season to stay on top of the competition.

Build awareness. Hiring for seasonal temporary positions places sudden demands on retail recruiting teams to fill hundreds or even thousands of positions in a short amount of time. This has also been made more challenging due to competition from other stores that are looking to recruit these same candidates.

Acquire a large pool of applicants. Automate as much of your talent pool building as possible, and use a combination of print, radio, and online advertising to promote open roles and entice people to apply. These advertising methods are effective for reaching a seasonal hiring workforce audience. But you’re looking to do more than build awareness at this point. You want people to take action and apply!

Simplify your Web-based applications. Purchase job ads on well-known job boards like Indeed and Monster. Also, use local listings on social media like Facebook, which has launched job listings. In the job listing itself, be as transparent as possible by sharing compensation, benefits, and hours upfront. Also, make sure to check your job ads for any gendered language and other types of language that introduce bias into the application process in order to make your job ads appealing to a broad demographic.

Utilize recruiting chatbots to help you achieve your seasonal hiring goals. Most recruiting chatbots are capable of two-way conversations. They can screen candidates, answer FAQs, return a shortlist of qualified candidates, and schedule interviews directly onto your hiring managers’ or recruiters’ calendar. Using a recruiting chatbot to handle early-stage recruiting communications will free your store managers to focus on interviewing candidates and getting their new hires up to speed for the holiday rush.