Patrizia CiuppaNovember 10, 2022
Topics: High-Volume Hiring

Tackling High-Volume Hiring — No Matter the Season

It’s that time of year again — when retailers, delivery companies, and more rush to hire both customer-facing and operational staff to meet surging consumer demand. The hiring plans of UPS, Amazon, Walmart, Kohls, and Target combined will offer seasonal positions to nearly half a million workers this holiday shopping season.

But it’s not just retail hiring season — medical clinics and walk-in pharmacies are preparing for flu season, ramping up staff as households are urged to pair influenza and this year’s COVID booster shots. And believe it or not — even pizza has a season, with leading pie chains in the U.S. and abroad hiring extra help to serve demand that spikes between November and the SuperBowl in mid-February.

No matter the industry, companies need to market to, recruit, hire, and deploy thousands of new employees in a very brief time period — putting their Talent Acquisition teams into overdrive and into direct competition with each other, often for common entry level skills.

Matching eager job seekers with available positions and getting offers out first and fast is the key to staffing at scale. That’s where AI and logic-based workflow automation for volume hiring can be a TA team's “secret sauce.”

Adam Thompson, Director of Product Management at Phenom, shares how companies can leverage AI and intelligent automation to streamline and speed up the process while keeping talent pipelines full and engaged for seasonal hiring spikes all 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. It's always "peak season" in some industry. For example:

  • Home improvement centers hiring tens of thousands employees ahead of the busy spring season
  • Inflight airline cabin crews and ramp agents
  • 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

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, early childhood educators, and tax professionals.

Why a new volume hiring strategy is needed

Employers typically tackle seasonal hiring by bringing on more recruiters, an option that is not always viable, according to Thompson. There are shortages in recruiting staff at both direct employers and at recruiting agencies, so turning to agencies to fill a recruiter gap is not a current solution.

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 are 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.

Related reading: 5 Common Roadblocks to Your High-Volume Hiring Strategies — And How to Overcome Them

How has the seasonal hiring landscape become more competitive?

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.

For example, Phenom’s High-Volume Hiring solution can take candidates from “hello” to a hiring action in as little as three minutes, helping to meet high-volume and front line staffing targets up to 90% more efficiently with AI-led process automation and personalization.

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. 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 candidate experience:

  • 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.

Related: How To Improve Your Career Site for Its Best Year Ever

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 makes 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 Intelligent Talent Experience platform makes it much easier to leverage this strategy, with tools to enable skills matching and unification of candidate profile data.

Related resource: Fine Tune Your Strategy: A High-Volume Hiring Playbook

What are the most important takeaways when seasonal hiring?

Navigate hiring peaks with these four takeaways, which Thompson re-emphasized as being critical to success in today’s high-volume hiring market:

  1. Reach out to last season’s hires and promote a referral-with-reward program.
  2. Bring back face-to-face events to build excitement and camaraderie.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Related reading: Pump Up the Volume: How To Get High-Volume Hiring Right

Why Phenom for seasonal and hourly hiring?

Phenom can help employers implement some of today’s best practices for seasonal hiring.

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.”

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