16 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Help

Determining your seasonal employee needs and finding temporary workers to fill in will be more difficult than ever in 2020 because of the pandemic. Here are 16 tips to help you find and hire seasonal help this year.

Is your business seasonal? If so, one important key to profitability and customer satisfaction is to adequately staff your business.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, doing so will be more challenging this year than it has been in the past. Without enough extra help during those extra-busy times, or with employees allocated to the wrong tasks, customer may be left waiting online, waiting on hold on the telephone, or gunning their engine and honking their horn as they wait for curbside pickup.

If you ship products to customers, orders may take longer to ship this year (angering your customers, who may then speak angrily to your employees). If this will be the first time you are selling online and shipping products, you will need to allot time, staff, and probably part of your stockroom to packing, arranging for delivery, tracking deliveries and answering calls from customers whose orders got lost or delayed in shipping.

If your customers make their purchases inside your store and you have to limit the number of shoppers in the store at one time, you may find you need fewer sales staff or cashiers. But you may need more people to sanitize touch points, handle online returns, or service customers at curbside.

If you are bricks and mortar store, you are also likely to need to assign staff to monitor the number of people coming into the store and enforce any mask or social distancing requirements in your region. 

Employees who are willing to work hard, have the necessary skills (or the ability to be trained), pay attention to details, show up on time (or at all) can be difficult to find during busy seasons. So, how can you determine how many seasonal employees to hire and which types of skills and personalities you’ll need to fill opening? These 16 tips for finding good seasonal employees will help.

How to Determine Seasonal Employee Needs This Year

  1. Look at the amount of in-store traffic you expect and any increase in online sales, deliveries, or curbside pickup. If you’ve already started offering those services, have the employees doing the work track their time. Let them know you aren’t pushing them to work faster, you just need to estimate whether you’ll need to hire temporary workers to help out.
  2. Start early. You don’t want to wait until a week before your busy season starts to start looking for extra help. You need time to find, screen and train your seasonal workers.
  3. Start with an accurate job description. Will your seasonal workers have to lift heavy boxes in a storeroom? Will they be standing most of the time at a cash register or in a mail room getting boxes ready to ship? Will they have to repeatedly run out to cars for curbside deliveries? Will they have to have good phone skills? Will they be expected to politely enforce mask-wearing and social distancing rules? Good computer skills? Know how to operate a forklift? Be as specific as you would be in creating the job description for a year-round employee

  1. Contact former seasonal employees. If you hired seasonal employees in previous years, contact those who were good workers and see if they are available to work for you this season. The advantage here is that they already have been exposed to your business and way of doing things.
  2. Contact former employees who left on good terms. These people can make terrific seasonal help – since they already know your business – and may be interested if they are retired, not working, or able to work for you as a second, temporary job.
  3. Ask employees if they have high school or college-aged students who want to work during your busy season. (Check state and federal labor laws for regulations before hiring individuals who are less than 18 years old.)
  4. Run help-wanted ads in local weekly newspapers and on Craigslist for your area. The cost of such ads will be lower than using a national resource, and are more likely to be read by people who are looking for local work.
  5. Contact local universities and colleges to see if they have a career center where you can post your seasonal job openings. If the jobs you need to be filled can be filled legally by teenagers, contact local high schools to see if they have any type of program that matches students with job openings.
  6. If you have a retail location, put help-wanted signs up in your window, and at your cash registers. Existing customers can make excellent employees.
  7. Post job openings to social media. Let your followers on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram know about your seasonal job opening. Take a photo of the help wanted sign in your store and include it in your social media posts.


  1. Attract retirees and returnees. Retirees can make terrific seasonal workers. Many enjoy both the ability to make some extra money without being tied to a yearlong permanent job. Returnees – those who want to get back into the job market after being away for some time – may also be interested in seasonal work as a way to start building up recent work history, a good track record, and a recommendation from you after your busy season is over.
  2. Be flexible (if possible) about scheduling. If you can offer flexible scheduling, say so in your ads, and target stay-at-home parents and others who want to work near home. However, if you know you need employees only at specific times of the day, state that in your ads, too. (example: “Must be able to work from 5 pm to 10 pm weekdays and Saturdays.”)
  3. Run background checks. Don’t let your need to fill a seasonal position cause you to skip over this essential task. You have a responsibility to protect your business, your staff, and your customers and the general public from harm. A thorough background check can help you avoid hiring a truck driver with a history of dwi arrests, for instance or some other individual that could present a significant liability threat for your company. (Be sure you understand the state and federal regulations regarding the use of background checks for employment.)

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  4. Plan time to train your seasonal help. Seasonal help will need training just like any other new employees do. Before they start, make a list of the duties you’ll expect them to perform and then assign someone to show them how to do each task. Have a printed list of people to call on and/or places to get help posted in the work area. Be sure the seasonal worker knows it’s OK to ask questions when they aren’t sure what to do, or need help understanding something.
  5. Treat your seasonal workers with the same respect and concern you show for your regular staff. If you do, they’ll be happy to work for you in the future (if they only take short gigs) and may recommend you to people they know who look for seasonal work.
  6. Evaluate your seasonal workers at the end of the season and keep the records (along with their contact information) handy for your own use. The review will help you if you need to find someone to fill in on a temporary or seasonal basis in the future. You might also want to contact good seasonal workers to see if they are looking for work when you have a full-time or permanent part-time opening. Your notes will also come in handy if a seasonal worker asks for a recommendation in the future.

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