RETAILERS SHAKE UP HIRING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Last Thursday I went into a store and heard something that made me want to sit by a fire, sip hot chocolate, and gaze at my living room holiday décor - Christmas music. It's that time of year again and the stores were more than strategic with Norah Jones "Christmastime" echoing through the isles. The good vibe from the holidays aren't all about creating that nostalgic feeling however… behind the retail halls decked with Christmas cheer are executives in board rooms planning for the biggest shopping season of the year when all our money-saving inhibitions are thrown out the door.

Recently, we conducted a study with AON Hewitt and discovered a lot about the holiday recruiting process. Whether you are a company or a candidate, the results show some interesting points worth taking into consideration for a successful holiday recruiting spree.

Last year, Americans spent $35.3 Billion on holiday shopping from Black Friday to Christmas Day. With that kind of increase, naturally 75% of Managers said that they were planning on adding additional staff for the 2012 holiday season which is 48% more than last year. 28% mentioned that they planned on keeping some of that staff on permanently through the New Yearf. The demand is usually preceeded by company preparation, but surprisingly, 85% of Managers say that they have made a hiring mistake in their holiday recruiting/hiring. How can you ensure hiring the best team members for the holiday season and beyond, and avoid missing out on the biggest revenue generating (and The Most Wonderful according to Andy Williams) time of the year by making your seasonal hiring a success?

• Interview Enough Applicants - 53% of Hiring Managers interviewed said that they didn't hire enough candidates for their open jobs. Competing against every other retailer building up staff numbers to handle the holiday rush is no easy task. Traditional advertising gets lost in the shuffle and waiting for walk ins to come through the door takes far too long. Social recruiting through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even newcomers like Pinterest and Instagram is a way to leverage the power of the internet and the masses to bring more candidates to your open door - the more candidates you have for an open position the better equipped you will be to hire the best of the best to get you through November-January.

• Take Your Time - The pressure of the holiday rush puts many Managers into panic mode and 19% surveyed said that they hired the first person that walked through their door. Pressure cooker hiring is a fast track to making poor hiring choices because little attention is paid to a candidate's qualification, background, etc. Taking the time to find the right candidate will result in a smoother holiday season, avoiding a breakdown in the process due to a sub-par employee.

• The Lone Manager -14% of Managers surveyed said they were the only point of contact a candidate had before starting their job during the holiday season. Without buy in from other experienced team members it is often difficult to make a judgement call on the potential success of a candidate, leading to higher turn over and time lost on productivity.

• Background Check!! - You can't always judge a book by its cover. We have all been in interviews where we felt that a candidate would be perfect fit only to discover, sometimes when it is too late, that their background was more like the perfect liability for the organization. Avoid risky hiring by taking the time to check backgrounds - you may spend wasted time developing a team member you are grooming for future potential with the company only to find out when it is time for a permanent hire that you can't make the offer because of company policy on certain background criteria. Avoid seasonal hiring regret and background early.

Finding ideal candidates for top retail positions isn't the easiest task according to 55% of Managers surveyed and 45% think it's harder now than ever to recruit the best to not only shine through the holiday season but show potential as a permanent team member. Taking steps to interview enough applicants, taking the right amount of time to get those candidates through the interview process, getting help from other store managers, and thoroughly checking candidates' background can turn a scary holiday hiring situation into a success. Deploying new technologies such as digital interviewing can simplify the process, saving managers time recruiting and onboarding, and money in less turn-over and getting the right team members in place quickly for increased revenues faster when it really counts - well before holiday shoppers are in a spending mood come Black Friday.

For the Candidate:

If you have been on the hunt for a permanent job then here is the good news - 28% of Managers are planning on keeping their holiday staff around and will be offering them full-time positions after the holiday rush! So bring your best holiday cheer to the table because 91% of Managers said that the most important characteristic they are looking for in a potential team member is a friendly personality and customer-oriented attitude.

Regardless of your hiring situation this holiday season here is one thing for sure - the future is bright and full of holiday shopping and jobs to support it. New technologies are improving the process - this year more companies have implemented digital interviewing than any other year reinventing the broken recruiting system that has previously led to 85% unhappy retail managers. Enjoy the holiday season in all its retail glory and check out the digital interviewing technology that has revolutionized the holiday hiring process for hundreds of companies this year - HireVue.

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