Last-Minute Holiday Retail Hiring for a Virtual Shopping Season

Kristin Hunter
| Kristin Hunter
Talent Acquisition
Woman finishing her online holiday shopping from home from a company that successfully completed their hiring for the holidays

In a year when nothing is business as usual, seasonal hiring during COVID-19 is no exception. Online retailers and delivery giants have already been in the thick of holiday hiring for months. In 2019, Americans spent more than $730 billion on holiday shopping. Online and other non-store sales, which have steadily increased over the years, made up roughly $167.8 billion of the total spending in 2019. But as we all know, that was a different time, and the 2020 holiday season could look very different. Companies have been doing their best to make strategic guesses on how to plan for hiring for the holidays.

Even if we hadn’t had our lives turned upside down due to the global pandemic, we would have likely seen an increase in online shopping rather than in-person retail. But due to safety concerns, home delivery is sure to increase even more than it would have otherwise.

Try these last-minute high-volume #holidayhiring strategies from @MyaSystems to find some end-of-the-year normalcy for your business! Click To Tweet

The kickoff of holiday shopping, Black Friday, may look a bit different this year. Major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy reversed their early Black Friday deals and will be closed on Thanksgiving Day! But, that’s not to say online sales will slow.

Read on to see what businesses can expect for last-minute seasonal hiring for what will likely be the most virtual shopping season we’ve ever seen.

Big Names Are Staffing Up

While the pandemic has slowed down some online retailers’ sales, companies thinking toward the future and investing in new in-store strategies and technologies are faring well. Here are a couple of noteworthy examples:


Not every company will focus entirely on their virtual business. A few months back, Target announced they were seeking out more than 100,000 seasonal workers. They announced that these temporary workers would be managing contactless services rather than working on the floor during the busy holiday season, including new drive-up and pickup options. Other seasonal workers will be part of the front-of-store team during the holiday season and focus on managing self-checkout, disinfecting checkout areas and carts, providing masks, and enforcing safety protocol rather than the typical extra help stocking shelves.


FedEx started the hiring season by planning to welcome about 70,000 seasonal employees to handle delivery surges. They had already increased employees when the coronavirus hit. They’ve built more automated sorting centers, expanded delivery coverage to seven days a week, will conduct more residential deliveries, and have new pickup and drop-off services with a network of retailers nationwide. Open roles range from package delivery, operations, warehousing, and retail.

These proactive hiring and automation measures will help these companies close the year out comfortably and navigate 2021 as the effects of COVID-19 continue.

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Last-Minute & High-Volume

According to Google, 69% of holiday shoppers will shop earlier to avoid an item being out of stock, and 80% of consumers will plan their holiday shopping earlier to avoid crowds. And, Pinterest says their users started searching for holiday ideas in April this year instead of their typical September holiday search spike, a 77% jump from last April. The holiday season seems to have started early, and seasonal teams will need to be ready for whatever comes next. Like Target, you may have more hires in curbside pick-up rather than stocking shelves. Like FedEx, you may have more employees focused on adjusting delivery procedures rather than stocking the warehouse.

Either way, if you haven’t locked in your team of seasonal employees — you’re behind. With that in mind, here are some tactics to get ducks in a row with last-minute seasonal hiring.

Revamp Old Job Descriptions

Your traditional seasonal hiring messaging may not translate well this year. Many have experienced unemployment and want some normalcy around the holidays. When writing your job descriptions, be clear about what talent will care about most: pay, safety protocols, and flexibility.

Hire Transferable Skills

Many retail companies don’t know when they’ll be back to 100% and need a team ready to adjust accordingly. If we see some normalcy after the holiday season, companies will want to pivot quickly and hold on to their seasonal team. Seek out transferable skills that will make sense outside of the holidays’ context for a seamless transition, if needed.

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Use Your Pipeline

If you already have a robust candidate pipeline, this is what you built it for — quick engagement with talent that you already know is interested. Was there an applicant in January that wasn’t quite the right fit for the position they applied for? Are they still on your mind? Reach out and see if a seasonal opportunity sparks their interest.

Speed Up Your Process

The most qualified talent doesn’t last in the job market. This still rings true for seasonal workers. Take a look at your current hiring process, from beginning to end, and identify the most time extensive areas. Does reviewing resumes slow your team down? What about tedious interview scheduling? Take a look at your tech and what can be updated to improve your entire process’s speed and get offers out sooner.

If you’re working on your #holidayhiring plan, you’re running out of time. @MyaSystems has some #seasonalhiring tactics to close out this unusual year right. Click To Tweet

Tech Upgrades Bring Normalcy 

This holiday season could bring a sense of normalcy to your business with thought-out strategies and will help you start 2021 off right. With out-of-the-box tactics and seamless hiring technology, companies can end the year with a bang by hiring en masse and turning their seasonal team into long-term employees when the coronavirus effects subside.

One area of company hiring processes that can often be improved is their career site. It’s a candidate’s first impression of your employer brand and can make or break whether they are interested in learning more about your organization. Right now, the cost of hiring is increasing, time to fill is becoming more prolonged, and overall, recruiting teams need assistance they can rely on. For last-minute hiring for the Holidays, that isn’t ideal for any industry.

Mya Engage is your company’s competitive edge in balancing priorities between recruiting time and budget during the 2020 holiday season. Recruiters are pulled in multiple directions from filling last-minute poisons, focusing on employee engagement, morale, and maintaining candidate experience — especially if you want to turn seasonal employees into long-term team members.

Mya’s Conversational AI platform can be your single point solution for automating your recruiting workflows, engaging candidates that land on your job site, and ultimately transforming candidate experience in a human-like way. If you’d like to learn more about how you can use Mya Engage as a risk-free, quick, and easy way to try out conversational AI, schedule a time to talk with our team. We’ll teach you the right AI-powered recruiting strategies guaranteed to predictably shorten time to hire, immediately drive down costs, and quickly improve the performance of your entire recruiting organization.

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