Holiday Hiring Is on the Horizon: Will Your Strategies Hold Up?

Terry Terhark
Executive VP, Partner Relationships, Employ Inc.
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Retailers need a holiday hiring strategy.

The holidays have long had the power to make or break retailers’ plans, and the sales revenue available to businesses during the holiday rush is only growing. 

NRF data shows that holiday sales revenue in the U.S. jumped 5.3% from 2021 to 2022, totaling $936.3 billion dollars in sales, and this year is likely to see similar gains.

Success hinges on adjusting operations to accommodate for bigger crowds and more merchandise without missing a beat. In other words: it’s all about the holiday hiring. As we enter 2023’s holiday hiring frenzy, competition for top talent among retailers will be intense. 

Although the labor market has stabilized through the summer, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported unemployed workers still trail the number of open positions by a margin of nearly 3.2 million, and the addition of seasonal retail roles will only widen the gap.  

To put the potential impact into perspective, consider last year’s push: Target and Kohl’s each planned for 100,000 additional associates to hit their sales floors in Q4, while Walmart sought 40,000, Amazon brought on 150,000, and UPS attempted to boost its headcount by six figures. 

With Amazon planning to engage 100,000 more seasonal workers than it did in 2022 and UPS signaling its intention to yet again seek 100,000 additional employees, the pressure to hire qualified candidates ahead of the holiday season is already mounting.

While other industries have moved the bulk of their recruitment processes online, retailers have stood by tried-and-true methods of connecting with local candidates. To this day, it’s not unusual to see “now hiring” signs or posters for in-person hiring events in retailers’ windows. While these tactics may help keep year-round teams filled, the urgency of the need come November renders passive recruitment tactics ineffective.

Luckily, the industry has proven that it’s more than capable of overcoming the challenges. In this case, succeeding this holiday season will mean adopting sourcing and recruiting models that maintain critical touchpoints throughout the process. 

Strengthening your investment in recruitment services and technologies can be an effective first step, as doing so can help recruitment teams scale and deliver on the above—and keep up with ever-changing demands. 

These investments can help you:

  • Streamline processes: Time is of the essence in holiday hiring. While ensuring the right fit for the role is important, hitting the ground running is equally critical to holiday-season success. The 2023 Recruiter Nation Report found that improving the speed of the hiring process was among HR decision-makers’ top priorities. Those that engage in a drawn-out process are likely to lose talent to competitors that move more quickly.

    If the process of hiring for multiple store locations is proving overwhelming, working with a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) company can take some of the burden of sourcing and vetting candidates off of internal teams. 

  • Turn to tech: The world of work is now online, which means recruitment must follow suit. Holiday hiring in 2023 and beyond must include digital tools for applications, communication, and management. These digital capabilities allow recruiters and applicants alike to connect and communicate more effectively and engage more thoughtfully. The right technology can also positively impact the experience a candidate has with your brand, which is critical to the hiring process.  

    Working with an recruitment processing outsourcing (RPO) specialust is one way to make use of the latest candidate management and hiring technologies. RPOs can supplement your team with resources and expertise to cut down on time and costs. 

    These professionals act as an extension of your team, effectively managing and monitoring solutions to be sure you’re meeting candidate expectations and hiring objectives.

  • Think ahead: Though seasonal hires are intended to be short-term additions to the team, recruiters shouldn’t look at each Q4 push as an isolated event. Taking steps to maintain relationships with seasonal workers after their contracts end—by using candidate management programs or email engagement campaigns for example—can set teams up for success in the coming year with a pool of already qualified candidates. 

    With consumers focused on the experience of in-store shopping this holiday season, retailers hoping to capture the quality talent needed to deliver will need to pivot toward active strategies. The above may represent major adjustments in retailers’ hiring practices, but the results will be well worth the effort. 

    For those that feel unsure of how to begin, investing in technology that supports these efforts and engaging with experts in scaling seasonal labor can help ease the way toward a merry and bright holiday season.

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