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How to hire over 300 new people for holiday season

August 30th, 2023 8 minute read
Marissa Wilson
Talent Acquisition Consultant
You won’t truly know how hard high-volume seasonal recruiting can be until you’ve done it.

That was certainly my experience when I became the recruiting manager for the U.S. west coast fulfillment center of a large eCommerce company after 6 years in corporate recruiting. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and it was quite the ride.

As a recruiting team of 3, our mandate was to hire 300 employees in 3 months to have everyone on board before the holiday season began, a vital time of year in eCommerce. To achieve this, we would each need to outperform our personal best hiring records.

The holiday season comes every year, but hiring at a high-volume in a short timeframe is always overwhelming, and many realize (too late) that they’re not set up for success. Here’s how to reach your recruitment goals this year, based on my experience and data from over 100,000 jobs and 4.5 million applications on Pinpoint.

High volume headaches

High-volume recruiters often achieve the impossible, but it’s not easy. We encounter many obstacles in each new recruiting push:

  • Running out of hours in the day. When dealing with hundreds of applicants every week and trying to meet many urgent hiring needs, time is one of the most significant limitations for any team.
  • Attracting thousands of applicants. Even if your conversion ratios are excellent, high volume recruiting goals can’t be met without enough people applying.
  • Selecting the best candidates. Once you bring in applications, recruiters then face the challenge of having the time, motivation, and tools to filter through them in order to find the top candidates for the job.
  • Tracking real-time data. With so much going on at once, it’s often difficult just to keep track of where hiring plans stand when the data changes minute by minute.
  • Troubleshooting bottlenecks. Hiring is a multi-step process and slowdowns at any stage, such as interview scheduling or background checks, can hold up everything.
  • Making it work with less resources. Team sizes and budgets don’t always scale up with increased hiring goals, so recruiters often have to be scrappy and creative to get the job done.

4 focus areas for high-volume success

No amount of technology or resources can completely eliminate the challenges in high-volume recruiting. But if you focus on these 4 areas, you’ll increase your odds of success this year.

Get the word out about your hiring needs, offerings, and processes

When you need to hire a lot of people, the obvious starting point is to share job posts widely and quickly. Prioritize the channels that have proven successful in the past—especially with job boards, focusing on the reliable options will save you valuable time.

We analyzed which job boards have led to hires for Pinpoint customers across all industries, and you won’t be surprised to see Indeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google driving 97% of hires, with over 41% just from Indeed.

In industries that hire at a high volume for the year’s end, the reliance on Indeed only goes up—accounting for 71-83% of hires. This data confirms what many high-volume recruiters already know intuitively: Indeed dominates the market as the go-to job board because it brings in the hires these industries need.

A less obvious, but still significant, source of candidates is Google. It’s important to think about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and put relevant keywords in job descriptions so they will show up in Google searches and on Google job boards (that automatically scrapes postings from company careers sites).

When recruiting for deskless workers who may not have a lot of time to spend searching online job boards, community networks are an effective way to get the word out about opportunities. Are there new groups or tactics you can try in your region? Such as:

  • Local institutions. Establish relationships with local educational institutions and workforce-oriented non-profits that may have alumni or current students who would be a good fit. If you’re new to the area or industry, ask employees what groups they follow or recommend.
  • Events. Attend or host in-person job fair events where a specific audience, or the general public, is invited to speak with you as a potential employer.
  • Referrals. Tap into your team’s networks with referrals. In analyzing over 100,000 jobs and 4.5 million applications across industries, Pinpoint found that referrals are more than 7 times as likely to be hired than free job board candidates on average.

To capitalize on this valuable talent pool, make sure you have a clear referral program in place and that employees know about it. You can advertise your referral program with onsite flyers, announcements, and by incorporating it into employee onboarding and trainings.

All of these sources can generate candidates for immediate openings as well as help build your talent pipelines so you have their information ready for next year.

Streamline the application process

For many candidates, the ease of the application process can determine which jobs they choose to pursue. Once you’ve captured their attention, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to apply ASAP, online or in-person.

In general, the less steps, the better, so try to remove anything that’s not necessary, such as:

  • Account setup. When applying, ideally candidates can provide their information without having to create an account and password.
  • Resume or cover letter. Depending on the type of job, you can choose to make a resume or cover letter optional and use only application questions to assess qualifications (more on those later).
  • Hard-to-find applications. When recruiting people in person in a retail store or at an event, it’s often most convenient to share a QR code so people can apply immediately on their phone without having to go searching for the job posting online. In analyzing data from Pinpoint, we found that candidates who applied via QR codes in stores and at events were 8 times more likely to be hired than candidates from job boards.

Make interviewing and hiring efficient

Dealing with large numbers of candidates at once is always a struggle. These are my tips to quickly identify the best applicants and keep them engaged from interview to offer.

Ask relevant application questions

Quickly prioritize the most qualified candidates with “knockout” application questions such as:

  • Have you previously worked in retail or customer service? Please check yes or no.
  • Have you previously worked on an order picker forklift (cherry picker)? Please check yes or no.
  • Which shifts are you available to work? Please check all that apply.

Using “knockout” questions makes it easy to filter through applications to find the most qualified people. For maximum efficiency, set up email automations to reject applications based on their answers without having to waste recruiter time reviewing them (or candidate time waiting for a response). You can even set up specific rejection emails that provide feedback as to why they were rejected.

Inform and engage candidates across channels

Give candidates all the information they need to bring their best selves to interviews. In job ads, provide transparency about the hiring manager and recruitment process to help candidates understand your employer value proposition and team culture so they can bring relevant stories and questions.

To keep candidates engaged, meet them where they are—for deskless workers in particular, flexibility in communication can be the key to engaging candidates on the go. Consider using a combination of both email and SMS. Save your best, most human-sounding messages to build a library of templates for each stage of your interview process so you can respond to candidates in just a click.

Automate interview scheduling

Set up automated interview scheduling to avoid admin time spent emailing about availability and waiting for confirmations. A delay of even one day or one additional admin step can make a difference in hiring outcomes. Pinpoint customers who have shortened their interview process by 5 days have seen their candidate Net Promoter Scores (NPS) improve by 20%.

Connect your background check providers

Integrate your ATS with your preferred background check provider tools so you can request background checks in just a few clicks and view results all from the same system. A faster process will ensure you get candidates started as quickly as possible.

Implement a strategic interview process

Whether your organization has an official interview training program or does things more ad hoc, reminders about interviewing best practices will help keep your team focused and equitable.

Consider what types of trainings or materials will best support interviewers, then partner with leaders and recruiting colleagues to create them. For example, you may want to include reminders about legal landmines in manager onboarding and interview instructions.

Craft an interview process tailored to each search. Meet with leaders and interviewers to align on the key criteria and topics for each interview. Identify some relevant behavioral interview questions to assess candidates’ skills, some examples below:

  • Flexibility. Can you share about a time there were big unexpected changes to something you were working on? What was the situation and how did you handle it?
  • Executive Influence. Can you share about a time you were able to change a leader’s mind on something? How did you make your case and what persuaded them to see things differently?
  • Collaboration. Can you share about a time when you and a colleague you were working closely with had a significant difference of opinion? What was the situation and how did you navigate it?

Then, you can create customized scorecards that make it easy for them to stay focused during interviews and capture feedback in real time (even while interviewing in a deskless environment using tablets or mobile devices).

Track your goals and progress

Any successful high-volume recruiter knows it’s all a numbers game. Check your recruiting analytics daily to keep track of important metrics such as the volume of applications, which channels are yielding the best results, and how many applicants are making it to each stage of the process.

Create custom reports to keep tabs on higher level data such as expected hires by start date, department, and shift.

Achieving the impossible

My small recruiting team was once faced with a seemingly impossible task: to hire hundreds of warehouse employees before the holiday season. We worked really hard, leveraged all possible options to attract applicants, optimized processes with our tech systems, and tracked our progress daily. I’m thrilled to say, by following these steps, we met our goals and contributed to the company’s successful Q4.

Hiring hundreds of team members at once will always have its challenges, but I’ve found that, by investing in intentional communication and the right recruiting tech, it’s possible to deliver top talent and positive experiences for all involved.

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About the author
Marissa Wilson
Marissa Wilson is a Talent Acquisition Consultant with 10 years of experience recruiting for management consulting, ecommerce, and tech companies. With a passion for knowledge sharing, she has built out resources and delivered trainings on talent acquisition to hundreds of recruiters over her career.

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