ZD Guides: Black Friday & Christmas Recruitment
16th October 2023
Black Friday & Christmas Recruitment
When should you start your Christmas and Black Friday hiring? And what hiring strategies can help you successfully fill your temporary vacancies when all your competitors are trying to do the same thing at the same time? Here’s the ZD Guide.
Once, Christmas was everything. It was the peak season which could, in many instances, make or break a retail year. Now, of course, Christmas has been joined by Black Friday and Cyber Monday to create a ‘golden quarter’ that accounts for up to 40% of annual turnover.
Given the challenges faced by retail over the past few years, you could say golden quarter performance is even more important than it once was, which is why getting your Christmas and Black Friday hiring strategies right is more important than it has ever been too.
Why do retailers face the same Black Friday and Christmas recruitment challenges every year?
It’s simply a matter of the retail year following a (largely) predictable pattern. For many retailers, the golden quarter (October through to the end of December) is turbocharged, with a huge increase in footfall and clicks. Post January sales, things settle into a less frenzied pattern.
If you permanently ran staffing levels to deal with the Black Friday to Christmas peak, you’d be overstaffed (and have to pay for that overstaffing) for the rest of the year. That’s why retailers develop specific Christmas and Black Friday recruitment strategies, to help control overheads.
Key recruitment strategies for Black Friday and Christmas in retail
The downside of Xmas and Black Friday sales staffing is that everyone is recruiting from the same pool at the same time. So how can businesses effectively staff up for the Black Friday season in retail?
Trends and best practices in Black Friday & Christmas hiring for retail
- Start earlyEvery year in early autumn, we guarantee we’ll chat to at least one new retail recruitment manager who will ask us when they should start developing their Xmas plans and Black Friday recruitment strategy. The answer, frustratingly for them, is summer!Summer is the time to put together your Christmas and Black Friday recruitment strategy. September is the time to put the plan into action. And you’ll be looking to bring new hires on board in October so they can complete induction and training before late November arrives.
That’s not to say every hire needs to happen well in advance. Every retailer faces the unexpected – an unusually high rate of staff churn over autumn; a particularly good trading season etc – which may need you to alter your hiring strategy and recruit some additional resource closer to (or even in the middle of) peak season.
Here too though, meeting most of your Black Friday sales staffing needs earlier can make the occasional last-minute hire easier to manage.
- Leverage dataYour Xmas and Black Friday recruitment strategy needs to be built on data. That means bringing together last year’s hiring numbers, sales data, staff churn and sick absence rates.
Then, you apply those numbers to what you know about the coming season. Are sales up year to date? Have you opened additional stores? Have political or global factors increased or reduced the likelihood of a bumper season?
Applying data to your Black Friday hiring forecasts can help increase your chances of pitching your recruitment activity at the right level.
- Revisit last year’s recruitsOne of the top challenges in Black Friday and Christmas recruitment is the feeling that you’re starting from zero every time. You can overcome that by staying in touch with last year’s seasonal recruitment crop and offering them a further season.
Not everyone will be available, of course. But you may be able to bring in sufficient numbers to make your additional recruitment feel less of a mountain to climb.
Using previous golden quarter hires brings the added bonus of reducing your training/induction requirement. It’s also one Black Friday recruitment strategy that costs virtually nothing to implement.
- Incentivise staff recommendsNot all your Christmas and Black Friday hiring needs to come directly via recruiters. Ask existing staff to recommend suitable new recruits (in return for a reward) and you can access a pool of potential with minimum effort and relatively little cost.
You’ll still need to sift and evaluate those applicants – not every candidate will be suitable, despite the enthusiasm of their mum, dad, aunt or uncle who already works with you – but staff recommends often achieve a higher success rate than general recruitment exercises. And you can always offload the evaluation to a recruitment partner (see below).
- Target temporary For some reason, hiring strategies around Black Friday and Christmas once tended to shy away from mentioning ‘temporary’. Some went as far as suggesting that the most successful Black Friday hires could end up with a permanent job.
That might be true. You might be actively looking for seasonal recruits now who could become something more. More often though, you’ll be looking for Christmas and Black Friday sales staffing and no more, and you, we and the candidates know it.So why pretend otherwise?
Instead of implying that the role offers something it doesn’t, target the people who actively want what’s on offer. Older workers, students and those simply in need of a little extra Christmas cash may not want any commitment longer than Black Friday and Christmas, so emphasise the benefits of choosing a temporary role with you.
By being open and transparent, you’ll also be able to pepper your ads with relevant seasonal keywords (‘Christmas’, ‘Black Friday’, ‘temporary’, ‘seasonal’ etc) which can help boost their impact.
- Keep your standardsRemember during the pandemic, when everyone found themselves buying things from the supermarket they would never usually choose just because that’s all that was available?
Black Friday and Christmas recruitment can’t be like that. It’s your most important time of the season and possibly the one time of year when your staff have the chance to make a real impression on customers, so your seasonal hires can’t be the equivalent of a trolley dash. They need to represent your brand value and standards every bit as completely as a permanent hire.
So whatever standards you require of your regular hires, you should expect no less from your seasonal ones.
- Offload to a Xmas & Black Friday hiring specialistRecruitment challenges feel a lot less scary when you work with a partner. That’s especially the case when you’re hiring for Christmas and Black Friday and you know you need to deliver big results while your competitors are all aiming to do the same.With the right recruitment partner, you can delegate as much or as little of your Black Friday hiring as you wish. Perhaps you want the recruiter to handle the ads and initial responses. Perhaps you want them just to deal with the first sift. Perhaps you can benefit from their market insight. Or maybe you simply value having a third party involved at the early stages to safely anonymise your hiring activities until the serious candidates emerge.
The right partner will be happy to help you with all your seasonal recruitment challenges.
Christmas & Black Friday hiring with Zachary Daniels
Talk to us about your seasonal hiring strategy and let us help make the busiest time of the year that little bit more manageable. Talk to us now.
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