Hiring Seasonal Employees Made Simple
By Pekin Insurance · Nov 10, 2020 ·3 min read
What comes to mind when you think about hiring seasonal help? Is it the throng of college students working in the mall in December? Maybe you picture a few high school kids working in an ice cream shop by the lake on a lazy summer afternoon. Or perhaps it’s your buddy who comes to help you clean pools for two weeks every spring.
Every industry has its “busy” season. Seasonal workers can help your permanent staff during a surge in business activity. Agricultural workers have followed crops working and moving with the changing seasons. Tax professionals hire many advisors for the April rush every year.
Hiring seasonal help isn’t always as simple as it seems. You’re trying to fill many positions, and your business hours call for flexible scheduling. There’s also a tendency to take a lackadaisical approach to hiring since it’s a short-term situation. Unfortunately, that gets a lot of businesses into trouble. So how do you hire the right people? You’ll need to ask a few questions, both of yourself and of potential hires.
to ask yourself when you’re hiring seasonal help
1. Do you need the help?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you need help, and if so, how much. If you have a project that needs attention, you might be better off hiring a contractor. If a small business is trying to update their database and inventory tracking system, they may be better off with a contracted professional. If you need a counter person at your deli during lunch for the next three months, it might be time to hire a new employee.
2. Is it worth the investment?
Hiring an employee, even a seasonal employee, is a big investment of time, money, and energy. You have to sort through applications and resumes and conduct interviews. Even the most straightforward job requires training. While it might seem like this is a long process, failing to follow through on things like checking references and having in-depth conversations with potential employees can often lead to unpleasant situations. It’s always important to hire good employees, especially ones who may stay with you (or return each season). If you don’t think it’s worth your time to go through the process, it might not be a good use of your resources to hire someone.
3. Do you already have employees who can fill the gap?
Depending on your need, you may already have employees who would be willing to pick up extra hours. Be aware of the labor laws and overtime pay laws of your state.
to ask employees when you’re hiring seasonal help
Hiring seasonal employees is much like hiring any other employee. However, there are some things you normally wouldn’t ask in an interview. AllBusiness.com provides a few questions you should ask.
1. Are there any gaps in your resumé?
Resumé gaps are pretty normal. They may work to your advantage when hiring seasonal employees. That means the potential hire could have a history of seasonal work, making them a great choice. However, they need to be reliable. It is good to ask about the gaps.
2. How quickly can you learn?
Not everyone is going to have experience in your type of business, and they will not have much time to learn. You will want to go over the job duties or put them through some training scenarios. Check to see if they can retain information well.
3. Are your hours flexible?
Seasonal work isn’t 9-5, and it definitely isn’t Monday through Friday. Seasonal employees will have to know that. It is usually not a no-strings-attached job; however, if they are expecting regular work hours, this may not work for them.
4. Would you take a full-time position if offered?
There is always a chance that seasonal work could turn into full-time work. You will want to have a list of people who COULD work after the holiday season in case you need full-time employees. If you ask this, remind the interviewee that you are not looking for a permanent worker at the moment.
5. Would you be able to work again next year?
Much like the question above, you will want to have a list of people who could work again next year. You will not need to train them again. If they know the chance to work for you again is high, they will seek you out again next year. No new training. No new interview. That is a win-win.
5 Additional Tips
for hiring the right person for the job
1. Be clear about your needs.
Make sure your potential hire knows your expectations for hours. This could be weekends, holidays, late shifts, early shifts, only three-hour shifts, or any specific scheduling needs.
2. Be clear about the duration of the job.
Don’t mislead someone into thinking your seasonal position is any more or less than what it is. If you need someone for two months, state that up front. If there is some ambiguity, be honest about that, too.
3. Share why your company is a great place to work, even for seasonal workers.
Does your team have great chemistry? Maybe it’s the free lunches or the generous employee discount that makes people love working with you. There's a reason people love working with you. Be sure to share that.
4. Hire someone you would want on a full-time basis.
You never know when a seasonal position may turn into a year-round position. If they're a potentially good fit for a long-term position, they'll definitely be good on a seasonal basis.
5. Make sure your questions are legal.
According to the Harvard University, some questions could be illegal, depending on how you ask them. In any case, discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), age, national origin, or disability” is illegal.