The professional Christmas light installation business is very seasonal for obvious reasons. You can try to supplement it with summer event and wedding lighting, but it is very unlikely to experience the same demand as the Christmas holidays. You will need more laborers in the peak season if you don’t offer another type of service in the off-season. So how do you find and hire seasonal workers?
1. Hire from industries that are busy at opposite times of the year (i.e. March to September)
Businesses that are typically busy opposite times of the year include painting, landscaping, window washing, and gutter cleaning industries. Laborers from these industries have additional valuable experience working at heights with ladders and around clients’ prized possessions – their homes. The good ones will know how to be professional on these properties.
Other industries to look into hiring from are golfing, tourism, or farming, which may slow down in the winter months. Of course this depends on the climate you live in (ie – Florida or Southern California won’t experience these seasonal effects to the same degree).
2. Let applicants know they’ll have Christmas through New Years off.
This will strike a chord with the people who highly value family time. Having Christmas to New Year’s off can be a rarity in some industries, so make sure to mention that in the advertising.
3. Hire millennial’s who crave the “gig economy”.
What’s the gig economy? People who like to only work for short periods of time, then go off and travel, do other unpaid activities, or take a different job of short duration. Often these people need to work very hard when they do and take as much overtime as you can hand them. They are young, motivated, and energetic. Let them know that this job will enable them to make lots of money in a short period of time so that they can afford to do other things they love the rest of the year. Of course this can be repeated year after year.
4. Consider hiring foreign workers
These workers may be on 6-month to 1-year working visas where they’ll want part of that time to travel the country. This can also help make your business more culturally interesting and a fun place to work.
Larger companies usually have more resources dedicated to implementing huge seasonal hiring campaigns. While this may seem daunting to small businesses, there are some advantages they have over the big business. Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities across the country and are uniquely positioned to leverage their reputations and connections that are great attractions to seasonal employees.
The best place to start to find outside talent is from inside your company. Usually the best hires are referrals from your current employees. You can further motivate your staff to ask around by awarding them for each position they fill and stays through the end of the season. Not necessarily a cash bonus, but something fun like ski passes work great too. Current employees understand the organizations culture, know what it takes to be successful, and will apply that knowledge when recommending a former colleague or friend who will make a great fit.
When on-boarding new recruits, small businesses have the advantage of making it more interactive. A mentorship program or buddy system where new employees are paired with longer-term workers will enable them to ask questions, learn the skills, and gain an eye for detail. Employees also quickly get to know one another and continue to develop relationships long after the orientation. You can help facilitate this by organizing social opportunities like go-karting, paintball, and a Christmas party. Ensure to mention these during the interview process. Advertisements can even include photos from these events.
Finally, assume an open-ended relationship at the end of the season. While many of the workers will only be with you until the lights are down again in the New Year, some may be great candidates for future full-time employment, especially if your business offers another off-season service. Seasonal work can act as a litmus test for these positions, so monitor those employees who have potential to stay past the winter season and continue to grow with your company.