By: Roberta Matuson
The 2011 forecast for summer hiring is a bit hazy as experts try to predict which way the winds will turn. Some believe demand for seasonal jobs will be up this year, while others say it will remain the same. However, all agree now is the time to take action if your recruiting strategy includes seasonal hiring of summer hires and interns.
“We think summer hiring will increase compared to last summer,” states Rob Wilson, president of Westmont, Illinois Employco USA, Inc., a firm in the human resource outsourcing industry. “In some industries more than others, some companies are starting to hire. We are receiving more requests for internships and entry-level positions, including summer hires, from clients in the restaurant and hospitality industry, tradeshows, landscaping and retail.” Wilson goes on to say that employers are cautious, yet they are still moving forward.
A prime example of this is Las Vegas, Nevada-based Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. CEO Jeff Platt says that hiring is up across the country. Platt normally sees a spike in hiring during the summer due to the increase in business at their facilities. Throw in the fact that the company is in growth mode and recruiting candidates is job-one these days.
Platt approaches hiring the way professional coaches put together winning sports teams. He cultivates college recruiting relationships with local universities, who in turn help refer top players to his organization. It hasn’t taken long for word to get out that this is the team to join. “Specifically in Las Vegas our applicant flow has increased because we have built a great relationship with the local university. As people start to see that we have opportunities for people who start in entry-level positions, then our applicant flow will continue to rise.”
Platt fills his summer hiring needs by hiring hourly workers and interns. “We have some employees who have gone off to college and return in the summer to work as interns. Usually it’s someone who has been with us for a while. We have some employees who worked for us part-time and are now returning home from college for the summer. When we re-hire them, we are able to give them more responsibility because they understand our product,” states Platt.
Attracting Summer Hires
When it comes to attracting summer hires, Wilson recommends putting thought into how write to job descriptions. He also suggests you present your small company brand in a way that is attractive to job seekers. “Is your workplace a great place to work? What’s the work environment like?” Convey the best image so the best and the brightest will seek you out.
Employee referrals are the gold standard when it comes to hiring. Ask people in your organization who they know that may be in need of a job this summer. Also think about recruiting with social media to find qualified candidates.
Optimally, Platt suggests looking for employees three to four months before you need them and then bringing them on board 60 days ahead of their regular schedule. This will allow you time to replace people who aren’t working out, before your busy season kicks in.
Hiring Foreign Workers
It may sound like a great idea to staff your entry-level seasonal positions with foreign workers, but it’s not as easy as you think. Shereen C. Chen, an attorney and partner with the law firm of Hyland Levin, based in Marlton, New Jersey, points out there are only 66,000 H2b visas given out each fiscal year.
You may have a better chance of winning the lottery than securing a visa for your workers as the fiscal year is broken down into two parts, with 33,000 visas available for each season (October 1-March 30 and April 1-to September 30.) “The H2b visa is for unskilled labor,” notes Chen. To receive these visas, employers must prove they are unable to find a US worker who can fill these jobs. Your efforts (and money) would likely be better spent building relationships inside the US to avoid getting stuck in this maze.
Hiring Right the First Time
Wilson believes entrepreneurs must learn how to interview well and ask interview questions that probe. “Keep in mind that it’s more expensive to hire the wrong person,” says Wilson. “It will cost you more because you have to recruit a second person. Hire right the first time.” A bit of research will help you avoid common hiring mistakes.
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Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the highly-acclaimed book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. Sign up to receive a complimentary subsecription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.