THE BLOG
11/19/2012 03:53 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2013

Holiday Hiring: How to Find the Best Seasonal Employees

The holiday season brings not only holiday cheer and giving, but also upwards of 700,000 seasonal jobs. If you're one of the many employers hiring seasonal and temporary employees this year, you may receive more than a handful of applications.

With so many jobs available during the holiday season, the unemployed and underemployed are expected to flock to these new jobs in hopes they might turn it into full-time opportunities down the road. As an employer, you might be thinking the same thing.

But sometimes, selecting the most qualified temporary job candidates can be particularly time-consuming and difficult. The volume and quality of your applicants varies between temporary and full-time job candidates. You also have other questions to consider: Do you plan on hiring anyone full-time later? How many positions are strictly temporary and how many could use expansion? How will you select temp-to-perm employees?

As you can see, hiring seasonal employees takes the same, if not more, time and consideration as hiring permanent, full-time employees.

Here are some practical strategies for selecting seasonal employees this holiday season and determining who to keep once the holidays are over:

Start looking early for the best employees and have a plan to manage incoming applicants.

Most companies already have their seasonal hiring underway and as the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. If you want to hire the best seasonal employees, get to them first by starting your seasonal hiring early.

And if you're like most employers this holiday season, you'll be faced with more applicants than you know what to do with. If this is the case, consider using video interviews to manage your seasonal applicants, saving you time and money. Because your candidates will answer questions on video on their own time (not yours), if you don't feel like they're an ideal fit for your company, you don't have to conduct a one-on-one conversation.

Even if the employee only stays temporarily, don't forget to look for company fit.

Regardless of your situation, your employer brand and company culture are important to maintain. Why add someone to your team, even if only temporarily, who doesn't fit? Especially when hiring for retail or customer service jobs this holiday season, you want to look for a candidate who will uphold your brand and the customer experience.

But the best part of this is, if you do end up hiring seasonal workers permanently, you'll already have the perfect pool of workers from which to choose. Don't let the seasonal job title fool you -- long-term potential is important even when hiring temporary workers.

Blast to the past -- give past applicants a trial-run with seasonal work.

If you're overwhelmed by the volume of seasonal applicants, consider looking through past applicants first. Have you had a few great applicants in the past few months but just didn't hire them because someone else was a better fit at the time? Offer these past job candidates a seasonal position as a trial-run. This is a great way to sidestep a portion of the hiring process while giving applicants already interested in your company a chance.

Consider employees willing to learn and train in new areas.

Due to our uncertain job market, many seasonal job applicants are likely looking for permanent employment out of their seasonal work. What this means for you is the workers you do hire seasonally will be giving their all (hopefully) and trying to impress management. But you must sift through the suck-ups and identify temporary workers who also have a good attitude and are willing to learn new skills. These are the employees who can be shifted to other departments or sections of your business post-holiday season.

Holiday hiring has benefits for both you and the job seeker if planned properly. But it's important to remember that holiday hiring isn't going to be a permanent boost to the unemployment rate, either. Unless employers collectively plan to add a significant number of permanent jobs post-holiday season, unemployment will increase again. But, in the meantime, holiday hiring properly and strategically can certainly facilitate the transition from seasonal to permanent employee.

What strategies do you use when hiring temporary or seasonal employees? How do you determine if they are a great permanent fit?

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.