4 thoughts on hiring during the holidays

As we move into November and the holiday season is close at hand, it seemed like a good time to share some First Friday thoughts specific to the realm of talent acquisition. For the decade or so that I've been working with HR and recruiting leaders, it has been my experience that this time of year normally presents a slowdown our stoppage in recruiting activities, as many are holding off on their budgets until 2011 or simply don't want to overburden an already busy holiday schedule with recruitment-related activities. This year, however, you may benefit from breaking those old habits.

There are already some signs that consumer confidence is slowly coming back. Online spending in Q3 was up 9% and projections now indicate record online sales for the holiday season. This tells us that people are feeling more secure and are beginning to move closer to life as usual. In our world of finding, engaging, and attracting qualified candidates, this is very good news, as passive job seekers will become more willing to explore new career opportunities. It also tells us the largest number of online shoppers ever will be browsing through online stores this holiday season- a fact that shouldn't be overlooked by your recruiting staff.

So, below I just put together a few ideas to think about as we enter into the holiday season and begin to wrap up 2010. I hope you find them useful... or of interest at the very least.

1. Get out ahead of the pack.
If you haven't felt it yet, the supply of qualified candidates in the labor force is beginning to swing back to where it was a few years ago. You can follow this link to the October Conference Board Help-Wanted Online (HWOL)... which shows the total number of unique online job ads posted in October 2010, broken down both geographically and by industry. What you'll notice is that blue-collar and manual labor positions still have serious issues with the number of unemployed people in those sectors compared to the number of jobs. However, for the more specialized positions, and those requiring higher levels of education, there are fewer than one qualified candidate her opening, on average. Come January, 2011, the job boards and other media will be flooded with new advertisements seeking to attract these valuable candidates. Even if you don't plan on making hiring decisions in 2010, consider reaching out to attract and engage these candidates now. There's a good chance that many will be very happy to wait until the beginning of the year to make a career move.

2. Look within first... and do it now.
If you're in the same boat as most employers, you've received far more resumes and applications than you had positions to fill during the past year to 18 months. And in many cases, you received several qualified candidates for a single job opening. Unfortunately, it's more common than not for employers to stick these qualified candidates either in a filing cabinet or the back corners of their ATS, never to be seen again. As an industry that is normally looking forward, we have a tendency to reach out and find a new pool of candidates for every new job we need to fill. Because of the economy and the situation in the labor market over the past 18 months, there is a very good chance you already have in your possession the resumes and applications of highly qualified candidates that could potentially fill job openings you're expecting to have at the beginning of 2011. Now's a good time to make a concerted effort to filter through the resumes you've already received, and begin to reach back out and re-engage those applicants.

3. Advertise where the eyeballs are.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this email, we know that more people will be going online to make purchases for the holiday season this year than at any other time the past. It follows logically that a certain percentage of these online shoppers will also be active and passive job seekers. While pay per click advertising hasn't become a staple of recruitment marketing, it's definitely work worth a closer look in November and December. Based on the type of jobs you're looking to fill, identify retailers that could potentially align well with your target audience and purchase pay per click advertising on those sites. Utilize this space to promote both the jobs you'll be filling in 2011, and your unique employment brand. But keep in mind that many visits to these sites will happen on lunch breaks and when people only have a few minutes to spare as they research a gift for a friend or loved one. Make sure you have a way to capture profile information from the passive candidates quickly, as they may see your ad and not have the time to fill out a complete application.

4. Leverage your charitable events.
Think outside the box and don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd! If your organization is planning on charitable events for the holiday season, incorporate these into your recruitment activities. For example, if you are sponsoring a food drive, collecting toys for tots, volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter, or participating in any other community events to help make a better holiday season for those less fortunate, why not invite candidates to join you? This can be a creative and positive way to expose potential new hires to your company's culture and values, while also giving you the opportunity to observe how they work together with your staff.
Well, that's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading, I hope you found it worth your time. If you're so moved, I'd be very pleased to hear your thoughts or feedback on these ideas for recruiting during the holiday season.

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