With holiday shopping in full force, it’s crucial that your retail business staffs enough employees to keep your customer’s experience in your location as relaxing, stress-free, and positive as the rest of the year. Here are six tips for attracting the best seasonal retail employees.

Hiring the Best Seasonal Retail Employees is Crucial for Holiday Sales

If you’re understaffed during the holidays, there’s a good chance one or more of your customers is going to have sub-par service at some point during the season. How does being understaffed affect sales?

78 percent of customers have bailed on a retail transaction because of a poor service experience, and 91 percent of unhappy customers will never again willingly do business with the offending retailer. Since holidays are a high stress, high traffic time, hiring the best holiday employees is key for retail business success. Here are the six tips that can help you attract the best seasonal retail employees, so you have a better chance of hitting – or even exceeding – your holiday sales goals.

6 Tips for Attracting the Best Seasonal Retail Employees

Look Early

Even if holiday candidates are only going to be on the books for a few weeks, their impact on your organization’s sales and reputation can be long lasting. Just like hiring a full-time employee, you need ample time as a hiring manager to select the best seasonal employees, and train them on customer service, POS (point of sale) software and equipment, loyalty and rewards programs, internal procedures, and so on. While most businesses target November to start posting their open positions, consider posting in September and October to ensure you have first pick of the best available talent.

Is your candidate jolly?

Around the holidays, your team can encounter various stressful situations from customer escalations to long wait times at the point of sale. When hiring a holiday employee, they should be able to stay positive through the holiday craze and never sacrifice customer service.

Posing a role-play in the interview where the holiday employee must act on a tough situation rather quickly is a beneficial way to gauge how they’d handle the situation in real life. This also eliminates potential candidates who may say they would act a certain way but really aren’t that way in a real situation. These “jolly” seasonal retail employees are also crucial to keeping a positive and engaged company culture, and a performing team will help your business operate smoothly through the holiday season.

Recruit local college students

Have you considered advertising your seasonal retail positions to college students? Partnering with nearby universities can help you access a solid pool of candidates when it comes to hiring for holiday positions.  In some cases, seasonal employment at your company could even help fulfill internships required for college majors. It’s worth your time for you to reach out to local trade schools and universities with a goal of creating mutually-beneficial partnerships. You could end up with a steady source of the best seasonal candidates and reduce seasonal hiring costs in the process.


Retirees represent a large pool of potential holiday workers as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement. Imagine if you own a boutique retail clothing shop and you hire a retiree who spent their career at Nordstrom! They have a lifetime of knowledge that will mesh well with your customer base, as well as your employees. They also have a love for fashion and will stay engaged in their position. Retirees also want to enjoy their time off, so they like the flexible work schedules that are needed around the holidays. Give ‘em a shot!

Go beyond seasonal

Some of the best seasonal retail employees are the ones who see a temporary position as a stepping stone to full-time employment and not merely a job. These types of candidates will likely be your superstars during the holidays and want to use the skills they learn from you not just for a few months, but for years to come.  As an employer, you can use the holidays as a probationary period or test run. Seasonal hires who perform outstandingly could be a great fit for a current or future full time position.

Employee referral program

Great hires come from great hires! Start a company incentive program that pushes your current employees to refer their connections that they think would be successful candidates. When your employees are stretched thin over the holiday season, the last thing they want is to work with people they do not like or trust. Using a referral program allows your team to be comfortable in the holiday hires as well as take the edge off as your team handles tough customer situations.

Using these six ways to hire the best seasonal retail workers will help your team transition into the busiest season of the year.

Employee culture is the key to a successful holiday season. Allowing yourself time to hire the holiday worker that best fits your team and pulling candidates from outside of your typical candidate pool will help make the transition into the holidays as smooth as possible.