When looking at the calendar, it’s high-volume hiring season somewhere. Combine that with factors that have made seasonal hiring even more competitive, and organizations need to consider new ways to recruit at scale — without losing the white-glove candidate experience.
Adam Thompson, Director of Product Management at Phenom, joined us on Talent Experience Live to share how companies can leverage AI and intelligent automation to streamline and speed up the process while keeping talent pipelines full and engaged year-round.
Read on for highlights, or view the entire episode right here.
How do you define seasonal hiring?
When we hear “seasonal hiring,” most people picture stores draped with holiday décor and a swell of workers employed from early November through the end of December.
But seasonal hiring needs challenge many industries throughout the entire year, said Thompson, who’s been leading development of Phenom’s solution for hiring at scale.
Basically, seasonal hiring happens any time a company needs to hire a large amount of employees for a set period of time.
What are some examples of peak hiring seasons?
Seasonal hiring is no longer limited to the end-of-the-year retail rush that happens around the holidays. Here are some other examples:
- Home improvement centers hiring tens of thousands employees ahead of the busy spring season
- Healthcare providers — primarily walk-in and pharmacy clinics — preparing for cold and flu seasons
- Accounting firms gearing up for tax season
- Amusement parks and recreational facilities boosting staff, not only for busy summer or winter holidays, but also for off-season activities and special events
- Amazon hiring around 75,000 employees to meet the surge of orders for its annual Prime Day
- Retailers ramping up hiring to support Singles Day in China —a major holiday that drives a high number of sales
In addition to entry-level positions, what specialized roles do companies hire for seasonally?
High-volume hiring can be especially challenging for organizations that need seasonal employees with high-level qualifications — like commercially licensed truck drivers, acute-care healthcare roles, and tax professionals.
How do organizations traditionally approach seasonal hiring?
Employers typically tackle seasonal hiring by bringing on more recruiters, an option that is not viable right now, according to Thompson. “It is incredibly difficult to hire recruiters right now,” he said. “Last I checked, there were eight recruiter roles available for every one recruiter in the job market.”
Amping up digital marketing is another go-to tactic, although expensive, and retailers have always relied on in-store displays to attract candidates.
But in today’s tight labor market, companies need to find fresh approaches. “There’s 11.5 million open jobs in the economy today, so those traditional methods are probably not going to get the job done when you need to hire thousands and thousands of people in a really short amount of time,” Thompson said.
Has the seasonal hiring landscape become more competitive?
According to Thompson? Absolutely.
A wider set of organizations are increasing the demand for temporary, part-time workers. Employers looking to fill seasonal roles are now competing against gigs like delivering for Amazon, driving for Lyft or Uber, and fulfilling food delivery orders for companies like DoorDash.
Additionally, a growing number of high-volume hiring organizations have supercharged the candidate experience. Some employers even empower candidates to find, apply, be screened, and receive a job offer within 30 minutes, without talking to a single person. “If your process takes three to five days to get back in touch with a qualified applicant … you’re going to be much less competitive than a company that can get an offer in a candidate’s hands quickly,” Thompson said.
What are best practices for high-volume hiring today?
With speed and velocity more important than ever, employers need to take the following steps to stay ahead:
Engage early to fill your pipeline. If you need to make a push in 60 days, start the conversation with potential candidates right now. For example, start with an email campaign communicating the roles that will be opening soon.
Keep engagement strong. Push out regular communications to candidates. Promote open roles and upcoming events with email and SMS campaigns, an easy way to keep your organization top of mind.
Host in-person events again. With in-person events considered a safe option again, this is a great way to get people in the door and meet each other to start building camaraderie among candidates, especially when recruiting new grads. An events mobile app lets you register attendees, take photos of resumes, and leave feedback notes about candidates you meet throughout the event, then feeds the information directly into the CRM.
Re-target previous seasonal hires. Contacting job candidates you hired last season is a highly effective way to fill the pipeline. However, many organizations struggle to do this because they lack the tools to track prospects and launch retargeting campaigns. This is where a CRM with automation capabilities is so critical, Thompson pointed out.
Promote referrals. Create an incentivized referral program for your hard-to-fill jobs by having your employees use their networks to refer potential candidates. Referrals help to build a strong talent pipeline, boost engagement and reduce recruitment marketing costs.
Streamline the apply and hiring process. This is the most important step high-volume hiring organizations can take, Thompson emphasized. Here are some pillars of a great CX:
- Make job discovery a snap, keeping in mind that location match is a high priority for most seasonal employees.
- Whittle the apply process down to a minimum. According to Thompson, multi-page application forms are a thing of the past, while eight questions maximum is the new standard.
- Don’t leave candidates hanging after they click apply. Use AI-driven automation to determine whether they’re qualified, and immediately schedule the next step.
Tailor the experience. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work to convert seasonal candidates. A well-deployed CRM with automation is critical for segmenting and personalization. It will help fast-track previous employees through the process, allow them to have a quick conversation, and get hired quickly.
Should organizations have an engagement strategy to retain skilled seasonal workers?
Thompson thinks so.
Hiring for seasonal roles is expensive. From an investment standpoint, it just makes good sense to focus on retaining highly skilled seasonal employees — think healthcare or tax firms. This can also cut down on recruiters’ workload, freeing up time for them to focus on other initiatives.
Find ways to showcase other upcoming opportunities to these employees, whether full-time roles or other seasonal gigs, that match their skills and experience.
Technology like Phenom’s talent experience platform makes it much easier to leverage this strategy, with tools to enable skills matching and unification of candidate profile data.
What are the most important takeaways when hiring at scale?
Navigate hiring peaks with these four takeaways, which Thompson re-emphasized as being critical to success in today’s high-volume hiring market:
- Reach out to last season’s hires and promote a referral-with-reward program.
- Bring back face-to-face events to build excitement and camaraderie.
- Pull in automation. “You can’t just throw humans at this problem any longer. Automation can help streamline the process for candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers,” said Thompson.
- Run pilot programs before a mass roll-out. This way, you can test the impact of new process changes on a small scale before implementing organization-wide.
How is Phenom TXM adapting for high-volume hiring?
Phenom can help employers implement some of today’s best practices for seasonal hiring. Thompson revealed two exciting features of the upcoming launch:
With a workflow automation engine, users will be able to tailor workflows to different job types and locations, and can fast-track candidates according to segment (e.g., referrals, previous hires, no engagement yet).
Personalized experiences give candidates agency to self-determine their own path to employment. They can discover, apply, and complete screening, and then self-select their next step (e.g., video interview, schedule an in-person interview, or immediately speak with a hiring manager).
Thompson’s parting advice? “Don’t wait. Get started. We’re here to help.”
Have seasonal high-volume hiring needs?
Phenom can help — Request a demo