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Off-Season Recruiting

Tips to finding seasonal help before you need it

October through January is prime time for recruiting when you run a business that has its Christmas in July. Everybody starts to ramp up as your season winds down, and if you look at the opportunity correctly, that’s a good thing. It could also be your key to filling your employment needs for the upcoming season.

When you see people putting on their Santa hats, it’s time for you to don your recruiting cap. You’re not even going to have to go out of your way — just ensure you always have a handful of business cards with you.

Everyone hires seasonal help for the holidays. These people want to work, and they are all right there at stores you were going to anyway. Many of these folks have a day job and need extra cash, but many workers in these places will be unemployed after January. They took the position because they want to and need to work.

Whether you have a year-round business or a company that employs from March through September, a counter-seasonal business might just be an HR gold mine. Imagine a summer where your pool company has no vacant positions. While you are out shopping, whether in Macy’s or Bass Pro Shops, when you see someone working hard, hand them your card. Easy peasy. Even the person at the Christmas tree stand knows their days are numbered. Hand them your card.

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your house. Trucking companies like UPS, DHL, FedEx and — cover your ears, I’m gonna say a bad word — Amazon hire extra drivers and driver helpers for the holiday rush. If you see someone who impresses you, hand them your card. Yes, you will wind up giving your contact information to some full-time, year-round employees in the process, but who cares. That person may have been waiting for opportunity to knock, and here you are banging on their door.

WAIT!!! You’re not going to just hand them a blank business card, are you? Where’s the call to action? When you approach the potential candidate, take a moment to write the time, date and place on the back for when you will be conducting interviews. Schedule it someplace you’re going to be anyway; this way, if the person decides not to come, it doesn’t inconvenience you. Make sure your business cards are blank on the backside and made of material you can easily write on. It’s like a personalized invitation.

Take this a step further and up the odds by reaching out to the store manager of one or more of these locations and starting a recruitment relay. Initiate a program where you send seasonal hires back and forth. The mass merchants (or whoever) send you their temp team in February as their busy months end for you to put to work in March as your scheduled pool openings begin. Come October, you send them all back again. A win-win for everyone involved. Both year-round and spring/summer pool ninjas may even find those employees worthy of training for a full-time role. So, the counter-seasonal business doesn’t get a few of them back. Oops.

This method worked exceptionally well for me, whether I was operating retail pool locations in the north or running my service company in Florida. Store managers of these locations know they will lay off employees after the gift return/exchange rush has passed. They also know they will need to staff up again in the fall.

With the market the way it has been and unemployment paying more than some could earn, it’s refreshing to see people who want to work. I’m not looking to start an argument about whether or not unemployment benefits are to blame — some say there’s much more to it than that — but it really doesn’t matter. The truth is, the only workforce shortage we need to solve is yours.

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