Hiring for Holidays: How Recruiters Need to Adapt for a Successful Peak Season

Hiring for Holidays: How Recruiters Need to Adapt for a Successful Peak Season

For growing businesses, holidays can signal booming sales and increased branding opportunities. Unfortunately, many companies not only miss out on these potential benefits, but also find themselves wholly unprepared to adapt during seasonal changes.

One of the main factors that determines business success or failure during the holiday season is staffing. Holiday hiring announcements have averaged around 604,000 per year since 2012. Employment gains from October through December are typically followed by losses in the first two months of each year, which highlight a ramping up of hiring efforts during a pivotal time that often includes hectic scheduling, lack of workers and last-minute commitments. These tighter-than-normal conditions make it more likely that recruiters will find themselves scrambling to catch up.

On top of that, as digital sales increase, companies are recognizing the need for more warehouse and transport workers. They’re also hiring more customer-facing employees to improve consumer experience in key moments related to seasonal strategies.

Adjusting recruitment strategies for the holiday period

To stay afloat during the holiday season and avoid a staffing issues, businesses are wise to come up with detailed hiring plans. The good news is that major improvements can come not only from the creation of new strategies, but from small and specific tweaks of existing models.

Making the following adjustments in hiring strategy can mean the difference between a season that’s light and financially lucrative, as opposed to one that’s challenging and stressful.

Starting early

National U.S. retail chain Kohl’s made the decision in 2018 to start holiday hiring a full three months earlier than last year, with the company’s VP of HR citing reasons based on competition for talent and a falling unemployment rate. Kohl’s has said it hopes to find and offer positions to people who aren’t categorized as unemployed but are still out of the workforce. Getting a head start on hiring for a busy time can alleviate last-minute stress factors, including high-volume onboarding or skyrocketing price competition.

Setting clear goals

Before diving into decisions related to hiring, it’s important to set clear goals that guide the process. Auditing previous holiday hiring periods provides a solid overview of what has worked and what has failed in the past. Recruiters can identify the positions that are most necessary or difficult to fill, followed by the specific business goals these positions achieve. This process helps to ensure that all recruiting strategies serve a purpose beneath overarching, high level company goals.

Allocating a specific budget

With the combined war for talent and holiday-specific recruitment needs comes an increased average costs. Recruiters should be ready to adjust their budgets during the holiday period to account for more competitive salaries, earlier/longer campaigns and new candidate sourcing channels.

Expand recruitment reach

This is the time for recruiters to think outside the box when it comes to sourcing candidates. Although traditional methods can be used, the war for talent can’t be won with them alone; competitive recruitment teams are now utilizing all available channels to bring in higher volumes of quality candidates, faster. Programmatic recruitment, specifically, has been shown to drastically reduce the time spent on this step by automating key parts of the applicant sourcing process.

Monitor and adjust

Last but not least, recruiters need to continuously monitor and optimize their campaigns in all stages of the applicant funnel. Key metrics to track for ROI are the number of top applicants received and the effective Cost Per Hire (eCPH), the latter taking into account candidate quality and lifetime value. Once again, the right tool – such as a Demand Side Platform (DSP) – can make these changes to existing campaigns automatically based on a set of parameters.

Bottomline: Recruiters should be resourceful and strategic when it comes to holiday hiring

The time between October through January is often a crucial window for businesses. Planning and executing an effective hiring strategy is one way to turn holiday chaos into opportunity.

By starting early with a clear set of goals and specific budget, companies can more effectively convert new hires through both existing and innovative channels. This allows them to maximize productivity and revenue in the busiest months of the year.


Perengo is a programmatic recruitment platform.

High-growth businesses and Fortune 1000 companies use Perengo DSP to solve their recruitment challenges at scale. The platform provides tools for recruitment automation and business intelligence.

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