How to Manage a Hiring Surge

Employees in an office standing around a table

Warehouses across the country are surge hiring: according to a July 2020 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national number and rate of job openings experienced little change—but job openings within transportation, warehousing, and utilities increased by 81,000, while separation increased by 65,000 and quits increased by 39,000. These numbers led among all other sectors that experienced growth.

So where did all those workers for hire go, and what does hiring surge mean for your company? The most competitive candidates know their skills are in demand and are confident enough to look for the right surge hire opportunity. Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute illustrates where talented workers went when they quit during the Great Resignation: “The hires rate remains higher than the quits rate in every major industry. This indicates that when workers quit, they are taking other jobs—likely in the same sector—not dropping out of the labor force altogether.” 

To successfully manage a hiring surge, your company will need to create a nimble hiring plan. A great place to start: get on the same page with a common hiring surge definition

What is a hiring surge?

A hiring surge means a sudden, dramatic increase in roles available in a business. This hiring surge meaning is the result of a few different influences. 

Why does surge hiring happen?

Surge hiring can happen for a few reasons:

Seasonality

The nature of business is to run cyclically—more so for some sectors than others. Most retailers are busier from November to early January during the winter holiday season. Several seasonal factors could influence when your team is busier throughout the year: other holidays, recurring events, and staff time off. Sometimes seasonal surges arise suddenly and unexpectedly, like after a successful product launch. 

Geographic expansion

Successful companies often reach a point when they’ve perfected their business model—so they seek to replicate it. Launching new locations expands who they can reach and how much they can produce. It’s challenging to forecast when normal sales growth will happen, let alone when expansion will be possible. One constant: as your company grows, your team will need to grow. 

Increased financial investment

When a company experiences an influx of capital, good business practice is to reinvest it into the business. New products and services can be built, and existing ones can be upgraded. Any business could be faced with this exciting prospect—no matter how large or old—but this scenario is especially relevant to startup ventures. Leadership teams will collaborate on a vision, and more workers will need to be brought on to execute. 

Unexpected growth

Forecasting sales can only do so much: it is part art, part science. If a company experiences a surprise surge in sales due to a product going viral on Tik Tok or a company profile on Forbes, their team will be challenged to meet new demand. Some growth is unpredictable. A hiring surge could be the unavoidable result of needing to keep up with good times.

Which industries commonly experience hiring surges?

Hiring surges occur in growth industries—these are segments of the economy that are robustly expanding. Companies that fall within these segments are surge hiring to ensure their continued growth. For companies that employ essential workers, this is also the case. Some examples include:

Retail

  • Amazon
  • Costco

Tech

  • Apple
  • Microsoft

Pharmaceuticals

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Pfizer

How can companies manage hiring surges? 

Navigating how to handle a hiring surge can be overwhelming. Developing a hiring plan with your team is essential to doing it well. Remember, this is an indication that your business is growing! Here are 8 ways companies can manage a hiring surge:

  1. Simplify by using a service like Jobble.

    In the event of a surge, your HR team may not have the bandwidth to parse through multiple applications. Or, you have no HR team—but you need to hire lots of people fast! The reason for your surge could be temporary, and you need a flexible solution. Working with Jobble eliminates the need to bring new recruiters or long-term hiring managers on board.

  2. Clearly define what’s needed.

    Identify which skill sets are critical to succeed in the roles you’re hiring for. A thriving market of job seekers may not have a job history specifically related to your industry. Valuable transferable skills can emerge from seemingly unrelated jobs and make for a more diverse team.

  3. Update your job descriptions.

    Your surge hire wants to get to work quickly. A detailed, accurate job description will answer their questions and help them decide if the position is a good fit. Potential surprises can result in onboarding delays. 

  4. Tighten up your processes.

    A faster hiring turnaround does not have to be a less thorough one. Make sure your interview process is consistent each time: use a specific set of questions, have the same people involved, and develop a set rubric with which to evaluate candidates. This is a time-saving measure that provides guidelines to follow in the future. 

  5. Background check?

    Don’t skip this one—a bad hire is especially detrimental in a busy time. Only collect the information needed for your designated background check. Carefully review requirements before submitting to avoid delays or errors. Submit screening requests as early as possible; most background check providers process them in the order received. Consider using mobile background checks for added flexibility. 

  6. Reflect on seasonal trends.

    Your team may be able to identify when surge hiring was previously necessary. Look at the year ahead, and the year past. When was additional support needed? Do major holidays, company events or other recurring trends correlate with busier times when you need to staff up?

  7. Prepare your internal team.

    Work with your people managers to develop a standardized training process. Identify the most critical skills for new hires to focus on in order to quickly move through training, shadowing, and working independently. More experienced, adaptable workers may need less hand-holding—be able to adapt accordingly. In a crunch, providing online resources and take-home materials allows new hires to complete some training on their own time. 

  8. Learn from past mistakes.

    Successful staffing is possible when you are intentional about your processes. Hiring plans evolve. Before and after hiring, it’s important to review recruiting, interviewing, and training processes. What went well? What will your team do differently next time?

During a busy time, you might not have time to make sense of what’s behind hiring surge meaning. Need to hire someone now? Jobble can help.

Ready to start hiring?

About the Author: Meghna Jaradi is a freelance writer and events manager with experience working for the Seattle Times, Kitchen Arts & Letters, Book Larder, Peddler Brewing Company, and more. You can contact her on LinkedIn.

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