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Seasonal Workers: Potential for More 2012 Temp-to-Perm Positions?
 

By Joseph Coombs  12/7/2012
 

Unemployment is still hovering near 8 percent, so it’s safe to say there has been heightened competition for the hundreds of thousands of holiday season jobs that opened up this year.

Several surveys have pointed to increased holiday hiring in 2012 compared with a year ago, perhaps prompted by recent gains in consumer confidence and spending. A recent CareerBuilder hiring study showed that 36 percent of retailers planned to increase payrolls during the holiday season, up from 29 percent in 2011. They’re paying more, too; 62 percent of employers will pay holiday staff $10 or more per hour in 2012—up from 53 percent of employers paying that rate in 2011. Twenty-two percent will pay $16 or more per hour, up from 14 percent in 2011, according to CareerBuilder.

More than half of retail managers (53 percent) expect customers to spend more this year, too. Consequently, 48 percent of those surveyed plan to hire more seasonal workers in 2012 compared with a year ago, according to a hiring survey by Aon Hewitt and HireVue.

Greater Chance for Temp-to-Perm Conversions?

Beneath the increased temporary hiring numbers could be good news for both job seekers and HR professionals with positions to fill. Many companies and hiring managers are using the holiday season to boost the ranks of full-time, regular payrolls.

CareerBuilder’s survey noted that 39 percent of employers hiring seasonal help in 2012 will transition some of those workers into full-time gigs, up from 30 percent in 2011. Respondents reported that popular areas of recruitment for holiday employees this year include customer service (23 percent hiring), administrative/clerical support (15 percent hiring), hospitality (15 percent hiring) and shipping/delivery jobs (14 percent hiring).

The Aon Hewitt/HireVue survey, which comprises responses from more than 500 U.S. retail managers, revealed that 28 percent of respondents planned to offer regular positions to half or more of their 2012 holiday hires.

More than 80 percent of those surveyed also believed seasonal hires are the best way to find full-time employee prospects, according to results of the Aon Hewitt/HireVue. Still, the mad rush to fill all those temporary slots has its flaws; more than 85 percent of hiring managers said they had “made a mistake” when hiring seasonal staff in previous years. Among the top mistakes noted by respondents:

Not interviewing enough candidates (53 percent).

Hiring the first person who walks in the store (19 percent).

Managing the entire process alone (14 percent).

Many managers simply don’t have the time to manage this crucial process effectively during the busy holiday season, said David Bradford, HireVue’s CEO. HR managers should consider using new tools for screening applicants that will save time, such as pre-recorded video responses by applicants who want the jobs, he said.

For more information, please visit SHRM’s Labor Market and Economic Data page.

Joseph Coombs is a workplace trends and forecasting specialist at SHRM.

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