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Hiring Holiday Help: 10 Important Tips to Improve Your Process


Hire retail sales holiday helpHiring holiday help is common for most retailers. In fact, there are indications that retailers will seek more holiday help than usual this season. The retail sector is expected to hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers during the holidays. Additionally, retail sales between November and December are expected to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent.

How do you go about hiring holiday help? If the process hasn’t changed for several years, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look and change a few things. These ten tips will enhance your hiring strategy to ensure you have all the help needed.

1. Get Your Permanent Scheduling in Order First

If you really want to get a handle on how many hours you need to cover, start by locking in the schedules for your permanent sales associates. Work with each department manager to determine who will be working how many hours per week, including weekend schedules. If your store remains open on the major holidays, make sure you have permanent associates on each scheduled shift.

Use data from previous years to determine peak days and peak periods during those days. Once you have all permanent associates on the schedule, it will be a lot easier to see how many additional associates you’ll need on any given day.

2. Plan on Hiring More Help Than You Require

After projecting the number of sales associates you’ll need during the holidays, pad that number a little. The reason is that you want a backup pool of temporary associates to call upon. Even with the best screening, some of the associates you hire for the holidays will not work out. Perhaps they can’t get the hang of PC sales or what you need them to do. Perhaps they decide the work is not for them. Maybe unanticipated events occur that prevent them from continuing.

If you have a slight surplus of temporary associates who are properly trained and capable, it’s easier to overcome any vacancies that suddenly appear. Consider hiring and training somewhere between 10% and 20% more associates than you believe are necessary.

3. Call Upon Your Established Contacts to Spread the Word

How are you going to find good candidates for the holidays? Draw on the contacts you already have in place for recommendations. Your permanent sales associates may know people who are looking for part-time holiday work, especially in the evenings and on weekends. Even some of your regular customers may have some ideas.

Provide them with an overview of what type of temporary help you need. They can spread the word to anyone they think would be a good fit for what you have in mind.

4. Establish a Team to Conduct the Initial Interviews

In many retail settings, it’s you, the store manager, who has to deal with hiring associates during peak sales periods. If that’s part of your model, consider a change. Create a team who can manage the initial interviews and identify applicants who do seem to have a genuine interest and possess the basic skills needed.

Include at least one of your long-term associates in this group. They can generally get a good feel if the person will mesh well with the rest of the staff. The team can then pass on the best candidates to you for a follow-up interview or final approval.

5. Start Interviewing At Least a Month in Advance

Chances are, you’ve already at least started the process of adding additional help for the holidays. Waiting until the middle of November to begin hiring temporary help creates a time crunch. Ideally, you should be conducting interviews by at least the end of October.

Getting a jump on this peak sales period gives you an opportunity to get these hires well-trained. There are a lot of new PCs powered by new Intel® processors hitting stores now and throughout the holidays and part-time associates will need to get quickly ramped up on your inventory before they hit the salesfloor on their own.

6. Create a Training Program for Temporary Help Only

What about the associate training schedule that you use for permanent hires? Won’t it do for temporary hires as well? The answer could be no. Usually, your seasonal help won’t take on all of the responsibilities held by your permanent sales associates. In many cases, they take on a supporting role.

Identify elements of your typical training program that you can use with the temporary associates. Flesh out the temporary program with more time spent on the duties they will actually perform. Remember you only have so long before those holiday shoppers start pouring in. Make this training time count.

7. Have the Schedules for Holiday Help Prepared in Advance

Remember the preliminary scheduling work that you’ve already prepared? That was not just to structure the schedules for your permanent employees. The purpose was also to give applicants an idea of when they will work.

Have the interview team present that schedule at each interview. While many will apply and indicate they can work at any time, that’s not always the case. By providing them with specifics about when any temporary hires will work, they will have a chance to confirm they are available during those times or not. Ultimately, this one strategy will help narrow the focus to candidates who can be there when you need them the most.

8. Position Descriptions are Your Friends

Just as the training program for seasonal help is different from the usual program for permanent hires, the position or job descriptions will not be the same. Simple descriptions that focus on the duties all temporary associates will assume is what you need.

These should also be present at any hiring events you schedule, and certainly at each interview. This sets clear expectations for each candidate. It also helps you determine what questions to ask, based on the position that candidate is seeking.

9. Allow Candidates to Apply for More Than One Position

You need sales associates, but what about help stocking or keeping track of inventory? If your store offers gift wrapping services or if you need to add to the team at the customer service desk, why not allow candidates to apply for more than one position?

During the interviews, it may become clear that a candidate is not a good fit for being on the floor, but will do a great job when wrapping gifts or for replenishing store shelves with PCs and other tech products from your inventory.

10. Take Advantage of Partner Training

There is certain store training on policies and procedures all new hires must complete. When it comes to product training, take advantage of partner training to get your seasonal employees informed on the PCs and other tech products that will be in demand by shoppers.

The Intel® Retail Edge Program delivers short, informative trainings on Intel® products and provides guidance and tips on how to present them to customers. Associates can access this information from any of their devices at any time.

Incorporate sales tools found on the website, such as the Intel® Retail Experience Tool that will help all associates guide customers through the process of selecting the perfect device. It includes interactive demos, processor comparison, explanations of new features, and more.

Ensuring a Happy and Prosperous Holiday Season

Be prepared for the increase in store traffic during the holidays by having plenty of help available. This time of year can be stressful for many as they look to find the technology products to purchase for loved ones or even themselves. Knowledgeable sales associates can help create enjoyable shopping experiences for customers and dispel fears that they might select the wrong device.

Encourage your staff to take advantage of the training available through the Intel® Retail Edge Program to ensure your holiday sales period is as happy and prosperous as it can be.


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