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Hiring Contract or Seasonal Workers in Today’s Market

Recruit fixed-term employees with the same care as regular staff and your employer brand will bloom.

Hiring Contract or Seasonal Workers in Today’s Market

By Mark Swartz


The use of contingency (just-in-time) employees has soared in Canada. Nearly 1.9 million Canadians are classified as self-employed contractors without staff of their own. Hundreds of thousands more earn their keep as seasonal workers.

Attracting limited-engagement personnel takes creativity as with any hiring situation. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind for this type of recruitment.


Target the Job Ad to Attract Ideal Applicants

Clarity in the posting is paramount. Too many temp ads bury the transitory nature of the position. You want to grab the right readers’ attention. State in the job title itself whether the job is seasonal or contractual. But don’t stop there. Mention the role’s specific timeframes and duration. Point out the salary and how many hours per week are involved.

Sometimes contingent assignments provide benefits. This is a great selling feature for many self-employed workers. List near the top if available. 

Other temporary openings give access to employer’s perks. Is this a great role for a stay-at-home parent? Is there a subsidized cafeteria on site? Are there split shifts that can be shared by students?

Remember that your job ad is a marketing document. So highlight the most attractive aspects. Spell out duties plainly. Realistically list your required (plus nice-to-have) experience and credentials. Be media friendly too. Put up some inexpensive videos that celebrate your company and people. Humanizing a workplace makes it more inviting.


Strengthen Your Employment Brand

Qualified job seekers today are savvier. They’ll sniff out if you treat limited-term work as a necessary evil. Giving short shrift to the posting, or making it a bare-bones offering, will turn off in-demand candidates.

 Instead be consistent with the strategy to build your employment brand. Even the most temporary position, posting and onboarding experience should reflect your best efforts. Applicants treated shabbily can broadcast grievances on social media. A deserved negative rating could harm your reputation as an employer of choice.

Something else to consider: you might be publicizing a contract or seasonal role today, but later you’ll have full time positions to fill again. Wouldn’t it be cheaper – and more productive – to convert one of your fixed-term workers than advertise from scratch?


Assess Suitability Of Contract Applicants

It used to be that temp roles were mainly for IT, executive assistants or construction gigs. Now most sectors have their share of occasionals. 

These contract jobs appeal to a wide range of seekers. Many enjoy being freelance yet prefer some brief security, or thrive on the resources available to pseudo-employees. Others might be energized by frequent moves to new environments.

Try to find out why the applicant wants a non-permanent role. Do they see this as a foot in the door to a possible full-time position? 

That may be a win-win proposition, though state directly you can’t guarantee the outcome. 

Conversely, tune your radar for candidates who are hard up for employment, poised to jump at the first full-time offer elsewhere.


Keep Your Pipeline Populated

To simplify hiring, maintain an active list of qualified fixed-term candidates. Start with former employees. Recently retired staff, for instance, can be good prospects. 

So could workers who’ve left to be solopreneurs and might need a filler engagement. Then there’s “boomerang” personnel that used to work for you who may want a chance to return.

Others who should be in this pipeline? Your part-timers who crave full-time hours despite the temporary term. Any interns you’ve groomed (e.g. summer students or those from practicums). 

All of the above already know your firm’s inner workings and could reduce onboarding expenses.

Also keep on file the competent people who’ve applied for your company previously. Several might jump at a chance to work on contract or seasonally to prove their worth. 

By keeping in contact from time to time, pipeliners can be reached exactly when you need them.