By Kylie Ora Lobell
Last summer, a chronic shortage of hourly workers across the U.S. kept many public pools from fully operating, forced restaurants to limit their hours, prompted amusement parks to keep some sections closed and led trolley lines that serviced beaches to shut down.
“Seasonal workers are always going to be a challenge to find, no matter the market,” said Stacy Fetherston, field talent officer at College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving based in Tampa, Fla. “The days of ‘I’m so lucky to have a job’ are now a case of ‘We are so lucky to have employees.'”
Nevertheless, HR professionals say that by acting now, you can still find the employees you’ll need for the summer months. They recommend taking the following steps.
Start Recruiting Early
“Preplanning for the summer months is key,” said Chelsea Searan, human resources lead at Instant Financial in Atlanta. “You have to be early to get the best talent in the door before they are committed to working somewhere else.”
Post your available jobs online now, and once you identify solid candidates, don’t wait too long to make an offer, Searan advised. Chances are good that candidates will receive a range of offers as soon as they post their resumes, so be ready to move ahead.
This is particularly important in certain fields.
“While the latest jobs report shows that the hiring pace is slowing, highly skilled talent will always be in demand—especially in sectors that continue to demonstrate high levels of job growth, such as leisure and hospitality, health care and government,” said Tracey Power, chief people officer at Vaco, a talent solutions company based in Brentwood, Tenn.
Employers should also consider how long it’ll take to train a new seasonal employee and make sure they feel empowered in their role, Power said.
“Onboarding, training and assimilating new employees into your organization is just as important as the hiring process itself, especially for seasonal workers,” she said. “Giving your new hires the support they need to thrive will pay dividends for both employees and employers.”
Look for Workers in the Right Places
Posting available positions on LinkedIn, Indeed and other online platforms makes sense when you’re hiring full-time employees to work year-round. But when looking for seasonal help, it pays to be more creative, said Kendra Janevski, SHRM-SCP, managing director of HR at Vault Consulting in McLean, Va. She recommends writing succinct and enticing job descriptions and placing them where potential seasonal hires are looking.
“Right now, that is often social media,” Janevski said. “Setting up an employer Instagram account for recruiting can be the best place to find generations of talent who would be searching for the perfect summer position to enhance their resume or pocketbook. Reaching out to local or specialized high school, college and other niche job boards can also be a great option.”
Power agreed that social media can be key when looking for seasonal candidates, particularly TikTok and Facebook, where younger workers’ parents might see your job listings. But doing legwork on the ground can also pay off.
“You can invest in online advertisements and share job openings on college message boards,” Power said. “But a little grassroots effort goes a long way with this population, so you can also keep it simple by posting physical signage at your office location(s) that tell people you’re hiring.”
Provide Competitive Wages and Instant Pay
Offering pay above minimum wage for summer work will set your organization apart from others, said Searan, adding that it’s crucial to include the wage range in job posts so that more people apply.
Employers may want to consider offering instant pay as well.
“It’s important to remember that it’s not all about how much you can pay, but when your talent can access it,” Searan said. “With Generation Z especially, who have grown up in a world of instant accessibility, providing that same instant access to wages is a competitive edge over employers that will not bend from traditional payroll cycles.”
Offer College Credits
Are you hoping to hire candidates who are still in college? They may want more than a paycheck and experience from their summer position. If you can provide college credits, that could convince some students to apply.
“Accrediting a seasonal job varies on a school-by-school basis, which means that if a college offers credit for summer work, they will have their own requirements and some kind of form and/or check-in process,” Power said. “It’s worth it to build a partnership with local colleges and build these accreditation programs, especially if you know you will have regular seasonal openings you need to fill every year.”
Provide Other Learning Opportunities
Along with college credits, you can make summer positions more attractive—and meaningful—if you use them as less-formal teaching opportunities.
“Identify your core team members and turn them into mentors,” said Fetherston, who also hosts team-building activities for seasonal employees at her company. “Fill in the gaps and provide a space for others to learn and grow.”
Lastly, keep in mind that even though it can be intimidating to try to find seasonal help, it’s important not to rush any decisions.
“Hiring too quickly, or hiring the wrong people, is the fastest way to weaken a sustainable business,” Fetherston said. “Remember, people are not your most important asset—the right people are.”
Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.