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Seasonal Hiring

I admire Doug Fleener. I follow his blog. I get his daily email full of great advice for retailers.

Recently he sent an email about hiring seasonal employees. I’ll recap some of his main tips here:

  • Hire a Specialist – someone just to do one task rather than a jack of all trades – much easier to train
  • Hire a Customer – she already knows your business to some degree
  • Don’t Compromise Your Standards – a poor employee does more harm than no employee
  • Recruit Former Employees – some of your good people have moved on, but might have a few hours to give you around the holidays

To that I would add one important point…

Hire Personality, not Experience
Experience does not necessarily mean “good with people”. And experience at a national chain is not the kind of experience you want, anyway. Unless that experience is specifically with your store, experience may be as much a hindrance as a help. You can expend more energy untraining than you do training.

When you hire someone who is truly friendly, caring and helpful, they will learn your way of doing things more quickly. They will treat your customers the right way. They will treat their co-workers better. They will find solutions. In short, even when they don’t know exactly what to do, they will do it in a way that makes the customer happy. An occasional incompetence is a lot easier to swallow when a friendly, engaging person makes a mistake, a lot harder when done by someone with an attitude of indifference.

Everyone wants their seasonal staff to perform at the same level as their full-timers. Your best chance starts with hiring the right personality for the job. Everything else you can teach.


For more tips on hiring and training get the book that one MBA and HR professional said,

“It is frankly one of the better business books I have read (and I have read quite a number!)”

Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art

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