Whether in retail, hospitality, logistics or healthcare, it’s likely many organisations will need to recruit additional staff over the coming months.

So, with Christmas (shh!) just around the corner and a lot of work to do, how can you prepare for your seasonal hiring uplift? And what tools can support you?


A warehouse showing lots of boxes


Audit your tech stack

If you have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or recruitment CRM in place, review its performance. If there are areas which require improvement, or where you may need additional support or training, now is the time to talk to your supplier.

A refresher training session on your screening and shortlisting tools could be valuable. Or perhaps your reporting suite isn’t entirely up to scratch so you can’t review your performance from previous years, or measure the success of your upcoming activity. Talk to your supplier to understand if they can support you, perhaps by building a bespoke report for you.

If you don’t have recruitment technology in place, you may still be able to identify areas where you can make improvements. We actually explored how you can save time (without spending lots of money) in this blog post – even if you don’t have an ATS.

You may even be considering selecting a new ATS ready for your seasonal hiring increase. If that’s the case, our Choosing an ATS guide might be an ideal companion for you…


Review previous performance

To prepare for your seasonal hiring campaigns, review your recruitment activity from previous years. Use your ATS Source reports to identify which channels delivered the highest quantity (and quality) of candidates.

If you don’t have an Applicant Tracking System, you may be able to use free tools like Google Analytics to view different traffic sources to your careers site.

If you use agencies for your seasonal recruitment, you should be able to run an Agency report in your ATS to understand your suppliers’ performance.



Use reports such as Time to Hire to identify where you could make improvements in your own internal processes. Can you see delays between shortlisting and interviews, for example? It could be that you need tools to support you with interview administration (check out Hireserve’s automatic interview scheduler) to speed up that stage of the process.

As we know, we’re in the grip of a significant talent shortage at the moment, so it’s imperative to ensure your hiring process is faster and more efficient than your competitors.

Ensure your screening and shortlisting tools can help you quickly process high volumes of candidates. Where possible, use scheduling tools to improve interview administration. (Again, if you don’t have an ATS, we have an idea for how you could manage this in this post.)

Automate your reference requests and collection process, again to speed up that stage in between offer and your new hire’s start date. This is the prime time when a competitor could swoop in with a counter-offer, so try to ensure your processes are as tight and efficient as possible.


Use your existing talent pools

You may find you can cut your recruitment time and costs by reaching out to previous seasonal hires. Student candidates, for example, will often seek out recurring opportunities to fit in with their festive or summer breaks each year.

Build talent pools of previous hires so that you can re-engage with them. Again, using an ATS should enable you to send personalised, branded emails at the touch of a button. If you don’t have any talent pools already set up, consider adding it to your list of actions this year.

In Hireserve ATS you can ‘tag’ candidates and then place them in different folders (our term for talent pools). If you have capacity, you could even nurture them throughout the year, with updates about your organisation and future recruitment opportunities. By the time next year’s seasonal hiring peak opens up, you may already have engaged talent ready and waiting for you.


Engage your hiring managers

You may have Hiring Managers off-site who are reviewing CVs, arranging interviews and providing feedback.

Alongside their other day-to-day responsibilities, it can be really challenging for busy retail, hospitality or healthcare managers to also maintain the recruitment process.

Now is a good time to begin engaging your Hiring Managers ahead of a seasonal hiring peak. If you can, introduce them to your Applicant Tracking System or recruitment CRM. Hireserve ATS has a dedicated Hiring Manager Portal, which is designed specifically for non-technical users to be as simple, intuitive and engaging as possible.

If Hiring Managers are going to be logging into your ATS, provide online training sessions so they know what to expect and feel confident using the platform. You may want to provide a ‘clinic’ over the coming weeks, where Managers can ask questions or seek support with the system.

Ensure your Hiring Managers understand the role they play in the seasonal recruitment process. Empower them by realising their value and that their input and expertise is vital in identifying the right candidates.

For more tips and ideas about engaging your stakeholders, download the ultimate Hiring Manager handbook today.


Test your application process

As you prepare for your seasonal hiring peak, put yourself in your candidates’ shoes. How simple and engaging is your hiring process?

If you think there are elements that can improve, talk to your ATS supplier. Perhaps you want to enable a ‘one-click’ apply to encourage more candidates. At the other end of the scale, you may want to set up additional screening questions to better manage high volumes of applications, some of which may not meet essential criteria.



Ask your team members to test your application process too, and share their comments. Consider whether you manage expectations around assessment tools. What should candidates expect from your interview process, for example? Will you need them to take part in psychometric testing? Make sure you are clear on the steps you require candidates to undertake as they move through the recruitment journey.

It’s also vital for you to manage expectations around candidate feedback. Did you know that 70% of candidates expect post-interview feedback, without having to ask for it?

In our recent candidate behaviour research, feedback (or lack of it) continued to be one of the biggest frustrations that applicants shared with us.

When you’re reviewing your application process, pay attention to when you communicate with candidates. If you’re using an ATS, can you set up an automated email acknowledgement when candidates apply? Can you send another notification if they have not been shortlisted for an interview? These touchpoints are essential in keeping candidates engaged with your brand, and demonstrating that you value their time and effort.

If you can’t provide feedback throughout the different stages of your process, be upfront about this. Manage your candidates’ expectations and explain that feedback is not possible. Try to humanise this message if you can (and it’s in-keeping with your employer brand) – remember the emotional journey candidates may be experiencing during the hiring journey.


Essential tools for managing seasonal hiring

To round up, we’re going to share our top list of tools to support you with your recruitment peaks:

  • Automated interview scheduling tools. Save time liaising with candidates to arrange interviews. Instead, allow candidates to self-select and release interview slots.
  • Pre-screening questions. Ensure candidates meet minimum essential criteria before they apply for a role with you.
  • Talent search. Search through applications based on specific keywords, skills, qualifications and more. Smart search with context means you’ll see the most relevant candidates for your requirements.
  • Hiring Manager Portal. Enable your Hiring Managers to review candidates, arrange interviews, provide feedback and complete workflow steps from their own dedicated portal.
  • Automated reference requests. Request, collect and process reference requests with a simple, online process.
  • Pre-employment checks. Manage your pre-employment actions from the Hirechecks module – including recording Right to Work checks.


About the author

Tristan Potter

From candidate experience to flexible working, and from supporting graduates to ATS reports; Hannah's written it all over the years! Hannah has contributed to publications as diverse as The Guardian, UK Recruiter and University Business. She is also the wordsmith behind our whitepapers and guides, from GDPR to Employee Volunteering.