Businesses, both large and small, feel the pressure of tax season, with its piles of paperwork, inevitable changes and impending deadlines. Accounting and finance professionals often face the prospect of working long hours to keep pace with heavy workloads, and contract professionals can serve as invaluable reinforcements.

When you find yourself in need of extra help this time of year, you need an effective strategy to find, hire and onboard seasonal employees quickly. Here are three tips for success:

1. Connect with top recruiting experts

Specialized recruiters can help expedite your seasonal hiring. A talent solutions firm like Robert Half knows the job candidate marketplace in your industry and city. Often, our recruiters are people who worked in positions similar to those they now place, and that experience can help them quickly identify strong candidates for your available roles.

It also can be challenging to evaluate a large number of people in a short amount of time when you and your team are already stretched thin. An employment agency can make this process much easier and help you locate and bring on board several seasonal employees at once. Whether you need on-site or remote workers, our recruiting professionals can provide help — and fast.

Read these tips for how to hire a senior accountant.

2. Be ready to make an offer

Just as you would with a job candidate for a permanent position, assess potential seasonal employees based on the required skills and experience, performance expectations, and work style. You will want to conduct reference checks, too, of course.

But before you do all that, research the expected pay ranges for the roles you need to staff so you will be well-prepared to make an offer. (Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide can be a useful resource for this process.)

If a recruiter is helping you hire seasonal help, they can work with you to confirm that the compensation you are offering for those jobs meets the market standard.

3. Set clear expectations with seasonal employees

Even with a contract professional, you need to have a strong sense of the specific duties and responsibilities of the job you’re staffing. If you’re working with a talent solutions firm, inform the recruiter of the time frame and key expectations, and make sure that information is communicated to job candidates during the interview process.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to write a detailed job description before you bring the contract worker on board — and go over it on the first day. Then stick with it, avoiding the temptation to give the seasonal employee whatever random assignment needs doing. One of the advantages is that in the event the contract position becomes something more after all the taxes are file, you’ll be able to accurately determine how well the person fulfilled the job. Seasonal employees often make great candidates for permanent placement.

Of course, tax time isn’t the only time companies can bring aboard seasonal employees. They can be particularly helpful when businesses experience a spike in workload or have lost workers.

Here are other situations when hiring seasonal employees can be particularly helpful to your business:

  • Hectic holidays — Many employees use their vacation time during the summer and the holidays. When several team members are out of the office at the same time and for an extended period, stress levels can rise for remaining employees who are tasked with keeping projects moving forward.
  • Classrooms and meetings — Educational institutions and local governments have an ongoing need for contract workers to provide reliable IT infrastructure and tech support for online instruction and remote public meetings. The shift toward virtual learning programs has also increased the need for designers, developers and video production professionals. 

Whether you’re burdened by tax time or talent shortages, a little preparation can go a long way. Apply the strategies outlined above to find the best seasonal employees who can provide extra support when there is a temporary increase in workload — and take the load off you and the rest of your team.