Forecasts call for flat year-over-year holiday sales ($250 billion) and as a result, industry analysts are predicting moderate seasonal hiring. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), one of the barometers for holiday retail sales, does predict an increase in holiday sales of 3.5 percent; however, this is down from last year’s increase of 3.8 percent – but certainly better performance than 2007 to 2009, where the retail sector saw negative declines due to the recession. For the month of November and December, retail sales will increase 2.2 percent, according to the ICSC. With a jobs market hoping for a rebound from a more than 9 percent unemployment rate, the news is not horrible but also not as encouraging for those looking to secure seasonal jobs or those looking to hire. But some hiring will occur this holiday selling season. And hiring managers will need to balance the need to staff up with the new requirement to work with streamlined staffing. How do you accomplish both and prepare for Holiday 2011? For those employers looking to hire, here is some advice to consider as you look to fill those openings.

  1. Attract the right candidates. Just like you take the time to prepare a detailed job description for a full-time employee, invest the same time for hourly workers – even for seasonal hiring. While you may not be looking for candidates with a professional background or education, you will want to make sure you attract the best candidates upfront – especially if you need to get more done with less staff.
  2. Pre-screen. As with all hiring practices, candidates who are more carefully pre-screened are more likely to fit the position, and with limited time and resources, reducing turnover during the busy holiday season is even more important.
  3. Buy online job postings today. Buy job posting in bulk. This cost-effective recruitment tool means you’ll have ready access to distribute jobs early – and staff up quickly.
  4. Use your web site. Your website is one of the most effective ways to attract qualified job candidates because visitors are already interested in your company. Capitalize on visitor traffic and promote openings today.
  5. Use social media. Social media sites are a terrific way to quickly and readily reach out to those looking for part-time, seasonal jobs – promote your openings on your networks.
  6. Encourage walk-ins and referrals. One of the most effective ways to recruit hourly workers year-round is through walk-ins. And sometimes your best customers make good employees. Also encourage your staff to refer job candidates. You can sometimes expect good referrals and quick turnarounds when your needs are limited to staffing up for the season – especially through a referral.

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