Seasonal Work Introduction
Seasonal work can be a fantastic arrangement for everyone involved. For employers, it means they have the staff they need for a season without needing to commit to a long-term contact. Workers
also get shifts that can fit around their own holidays and commitments while customers of industries from healthcare to tourism and travel benefit from the use of extra staff.
As we write this, we’re in the depths of winter, and looking forward to the spring! As well as warmer climes, that will bring the widespread availability of seasonal work in industries that experience an upturn in business around summertime.
Whether in summer or winter, seasonal work often involves travel, tourism and being based outdoors. You can see why many people pick summer work over office jobs.
This guide is your introduction to advertising and applying for seasonal work. Though some of the advice in it is tailored to jobseekers, and some to employers, it’s a good idea to read it through, whatever your situation, to get an idea of the bigger picture.
Almost any kind of person can take seasonal work. Many candidates will be students on break – or alternatively, those who have recently graduated and not yet found permanent work.
You’d expect seasonal workers to be fairly young then, but in addition to mature students, temporary work is often taken by those who have become unemployed for whatever reason, at any stage in their lives.
Seasonal work is also popular among those who want to travel, whether it’s to ski resorts or desert islands. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that – visiting other countries is a big perk in the tourism industry - but it’d be to your benefit if you could screen out those who just want a paid holiday early on in the process!
Octo Tip: If you’re recruiting for seasonal work, ask candidates whether they’re aware of the information given here that’s targeted to them. If you’re looking for seasonal work, you can read the advice for recruiters and quiz them on it at interview stage.
Some of the sectors that see a spike in trade over the winter or summer period include:
Any industry may in fact benefit from temporary workers in winter and summer as the permanent staff take their holidays.
Octo Tip: How can you know who really wants to tend a bar in forty-degree heat, and who just wants a paid holiday in Crete? Look for relevant experience and reinforce to the candidates that hard work will be expected of them.
Recruiting for seasonal work (recruiters)
There are two important things to keep in mind when you’re recruiting people to work for you on a seasonal basis. One is to start inviting applications early, and the other is not to rush into hiring decisions. You should know what you want and take action early.
If you want people to work over Christmas for example, you shouldn’t leave it until mid-December to put the word out, as the best staff will have already agreed to work elsewhere. The sooner you advertise, the better. You should really start to see interest around September for winter work, and April for summer work. You can expect to find that you’ve filled all of the positions by the end of the following month.
And while it’s true that most of the people you pick will not be with you for very long, it’s still a good idea to carefully consider any candidate before taking them on. While the majority of people who take on temporary work have the requisite skills and are prepared to put the effort in, this doesn’t apply to all. By not screening for those who are less competent or dedicated, you are taking a bigger risk than necessary.
When crafting an ad for a seasonal vacancy, take into account the following:
Your job ad should include keywords anyway, especially if it is going on online job boards. Use “winter” or “summer”, and “seasonal”, in the title. This helps searchability but also means nobody can say they didn’t know it wasn’t a permanent position!
Update your copy
If you recruit only once a year, you might be tempted to use the same job description every time. But you should take the time to ensure it’s still relevant, including any new responsibilities or background on the employer.
Pick your outlets
You will probably want to go to generalist job boards for less skilled roles and specialised ones for those requiring special qualifications and skills (such as healthcare). There are also boards and online recruitment sites specialising in providing advice and advertising to seasonal recruiters. Some job boards and recruitment agencies will not handle temporary work.
Octo Tips: Be clear about the start and end dates of the job. A seasonal position means different things to different people, so clarify if you need people for two weeks in August or an entire six-month tourist season.
Remember that if you have hired someone in the past that was good, you can keep their details on file and build your talent pool for the next time you might require someone with their skill set.
Applying for seasonal work (candidates)
When you find that you’ll have this winter or summer free, you may well decide you want to take on some seasonal work.
One of the first things to consider is the dates of your availability – many people say that they are happy to work through the entire season but forget that they’ve already arranged to go away for a week over Christmas, for example. If you do have plans that prevent you from working the full season, you can still find work, but you should make employers aware of your restrictions as soon as you can.
With that out of the way, think carefully about what kinds of work you can accept. Any marketable skills you may have, like scuba diving or snowboarding instruction, obviously lend themselves to seasonal work that can be very well
paid. Even if your skills and qualifications don’t specifically relate to the time of year, you can still find temporary work to cover holidays or for short projects all year round. For example, there is plenty of office work that you can carry out for a few months to cover parental or sick leave, and this will often be paid at a better rate than a permanent role if the temporary position lacks some of the benefits and job security.
Octo Tip: You can get paid a higher salary pro rata if you take a role for a few months - but you won’t get paid for sick days, can be dismissed without notice and you might not get an invite to the Christmas party – Maybe these are drawbacks you’re willing to accept!
For companies that see increased trade in the middle and end of the year, demand for work of almost all kinds will increase – good news for out-of-work chefs, waiters, event staff, wedding planners, travel reps, airline staff, retail workers, cleaners, performers, Santa impersonators…
It may be that you’re willing to accept almost any kind of work – at least any that doesn’t call for special qualifications. One of the great things about seasonal and temporary work is that, unlike with more permanent roles, most of the time it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any long-term aspirations in that particular career path.
When an employer is making a commitment to you for no more than a few months, they don’t mind that you’re waiting tables when what you really want to do is practise law. So all options are open
There are plenty of online portals for finding temporary work. Many recruitment agencies don’t actually handle temporary placements and in fact many employers offering seasonal work decide to use free outlets rather than pay for an ad. This means you may want to use sites such as Gumtree or Craigslist rather than turning to traditional recruitment agencies.
If you use free job boards however you do have to be careful – some jobs you’ll find here are scams or at least very unfair in terms of hours and pay. In particular, be wary of any arrangement in which:
• you’re asked for money upfront
• you can find no mention of the company’s name
• the company has negative mentions on search engines
• information is very vague or badly written
Remember not to give any money or personal details unless you are sure you’re not engaging in a scam, and that you will not want to be involved in any kind of “off the books” schemes which are not only illegal but could result in you being exploited.
Apply for as many roles as you like and wait for the replies to come in! It can’t hurt to pick up the phone either and actually speak to a hiring manager.
Octo Tip: Vacancies for seasonal work tend to fill quickly so don’t wait for news forever – if you don’t hear back within a couple of weeks, move on.
Candidates - Making it permanent
A great way to secure permanent work is to start off as a temporary employee. Many interns, apprentices and temps gain the opportunity to stay on at the end of their term in a full-time capacity.
If this is something you’d like to do, it’s important to make that intent clear. The fact that seasonal work doesn’t involve a long-term commitment is a major draw for many workers, so few employers will ask you to stay if they don’t know you’re looking to do so.
It should go without saying that to be considered, you need to be an outstanding employee in the time you’re there. If you shirk responsibilities or otherwise fail to do more than the bare minimum asked of you, you can expect to get a “no” when you ask about permanent vacancies.
Finally, you need to be sure that you can in fact commit to a permanent role. You might be on your holidays now, but will you need to go back to your studies or some other commitment at the end of the season?
Even if the company you temp with doesn’t keep you on full-time, the experience will hopefully help you with finding work elsewhere.
Recruiters - Making your selection
Are you an employer? You can probably expect people to want to stay on each season, and assuming you’re happy to accommodate new staff, it’s always helpful to make it known if this is a possibility. Be cautious about giving false hope however – don’t talk about an opportunity that isn’t there.
By all means communicate to your staff that you’re looking for permanent workers. How you do this however will depend on circumstances, including just how effective your team really is.
Perhaps you will want to approach staff individually and give them this information. Or perhaps you will mention during an initial training session for the entire team that you want to keep certain team members on. This second approach can act as a motivating factor for those employees who want to prove their worth in the long term.
Octo Tips: Candidates should be aware that full-time work is often very different from temporary work in terms of tasks, working style and your level of commitment. Be prepared to take a step up when you accept an offer of permanent employment.
Recruiters: you may consider interviewing an employee before granting them full time work. This will help you gauge their commitment and long-term goals.
Conclusion Recruitment Tips
Before making any definitive offers of work however, you should consider a few factors:
Is there enough work available to make it a full-time position?
The demand for seasonal work obviously varies over time, so do be sure that you will still need your employees in the off season.
Do you know what’s involved in taking on a permanent member of staff?
As an employer, you have more responsibilities and liabilities towards proper employees.
Will it be cost-effective?
A big advantage in temporary work, from an employer’s point of view, is that you could well be saving money.
Is the employee you have in mind really long-term material?
Some people seem to work well over short periods of time but become complacent or bored after a matter of weeks. This may just be a risk you’ll have to take, but if you find a team member loses motivation quickly you might reconsider.
Are they a strong networker?
While too many employers do not see this as a vital factor, it is at least worth considering how well your employee fits in with others. If you will be working together more closely from now on, there should be evidence that they are at least trying to form connections.
Are they always keen to take on more tasks?
The permanent position will probably involve a more varied and in-depth range of duties – above and beyond what they are currently doing. If your chosen employee is already looking for ways they can go the extra mile, that’s a great sign.
What are their long-term goals?
It’s usually fine if someone takes a seasonal job that doesn’t fit in with their true ambitions. When the job becomes their main source of income however, it’s definitely worth being sure that this is really what they want to do. Consider
interviewing employees before offering anything permanent.
Get in touch!
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