Employers often turn to seasonal employees to help ease pressure on their core teams when workloads suddenly spike. Tax season and end-of-year projects are two common scenarios for hiring these reinforcements. However, there are many situations where highly skilled contract professionals can provide invaluable support to a business, from shoring up customer support teams to assisting with financial reporting to helping launch product marketing campaigns.

Uncertain economic conditions and challenges in hiring permanent talent in a competitive labor market also contribute to many employers deciding to amplify their use of contract professionals. And, according to recent research from Robert Half, hiring more contract talent is exactly what many employers plan to do in the first half of 2024: 

  • 67% of employers said they intend to increase the number of contract employees in their organization.
  • Legal (79%), technology (72%), marketing and creative (68%), and finance and accounting (59%) organizations are the most likely to hire this talent.
  • Midsize businesses are in particular need of extra help, with 72% of hiring managers in these organizations reporting that they plan to hire contract workers in the next six months.

If your business is among those seeking to hire more contract talent this year, you will want to have an effective strategy to find, hire and onboard seasonal employees quickly and set them up for success. These three tips can help.

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.

A Robert Half jobs expert is available to discuss seasonal hiring trends, specifically:

  • Which jobs and occupations are hot right now in the contract space
  • How managers can ease burnout with their current staff by leveraging contract professionals
  • Why seasonal employment is an attractive career choice for workers

Want more insight on what is happening in the current labor market? Read the latest Demand for Skilled Talent report from Robert Half.

2. Be ready to make an offer

Just as you would do when hiring a job candidate for a permanent position at your firm, you will want to assess potential seasonal employees based on the skills and experience required for the job, performance expectations, and work style. A recruiter can help you with all of the above and more when you need to hire seasonal help.

Importantly, a recruiter can help you prepare to move quickly when you identify contract professionals likely to meet your needs. They can work with you to craft your job offer for the contract role and confirm that the compensation you are offering meets the market standard.

Before you meet with a specialized recruiter to discuss your seasonal hiring needs, you may want to research the expected pay ranges for the roles you need to staff so you can have an informed discussion. Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide can be a useful resource for this process.

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 a contract professional on board — and go over it with them on their first day. Then, be sure that you stick with it. In other words, avoid the temptation to give the seasonal employee whatever random assignment needs doing.

A key advantage of this approach: In the event the contract position becomes something more after all the taxes are filed or another critical project is done and dusted, you’ll be able to accurately determine how well the person fulfilled the job. Seasonal employees often make great candidates for permanent placement.

Again, tax time isn’t the only time companies can bring seasonal employees on board. Contract professionals can be particularly helpful when businesses experience heightened workload demands, or they have staffing gaps they need to bridge. The latter situation can occur when employees leave an organization. However, many employers also rely on contract talent to provide specialized skills they may not have in-house but only need for the short term.

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

  • Hectic holidays Many employees use their vacation time during the summer and holidays. When several team members are out of the office at the same time and for an extended period, stress levels can rise for the remaining employees tasked with keeping projects moving forward. Contract professionals can provide welcome support.
  • 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 to help develop this content.
  • Open enrollment periods — During open enrollment periods, employees throughout the United States sign up for health insurance plans and other benefit programs for the year ahead. Companies need to evaluate benefits and field questions from employees as they consider changes to their plans. They must coordinate and communicate the policies, practices and procedures, all while making sure data-entry tasks and day-to-day operations are not neglected. And that is another area where skilled seasonal employees can help.

Whether you’re burdened by tax season demands or talent shortages, or you just need help with a special project, a little preparation can go a long way toward securing the right contract talent for your specific needs. Apply the strategies outlined above to find the best seasonal employees to provide extra support right when you need it — and take the load off you and the rest of your team.

Ready to hire more contract professionals? Contact us.