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With Christmas just weeks away, an expert has unveiled the secrets to hiring a keeper if you’re caught out at the last minute this season.

It’s one of the busiest times of the year for retailers, making hiring extra staff critical to manage the influx of customers.

With most brands ramping up their recruitment process in August and with another peak in October, some retailers may feel caught out short-staffed just weeks out from Christmas, but it’s not too late to find your dream employee, an expert says.

Evan Ravensdale, Head of Strategy for Recruitment and Strategic Partnership at PageUp told Retailbiz there are ways to shuffle together your dream team at the last minute and avoid the pitfalls of hiring for the peak season.

The first “critical” consideration is to be aware of the timing of seasonal peaks in hiring, he says.

“The first thing I would call out is that there’s a couple of different seasonal peaks so the first peak from what we’ve seen in our data is in August and the follow up peak is in October right now so to be really aware of when the market is doing its hiring and trying to design your own hiring plan to make sure you’re not caught out.”

But ensuring that your recruitment methods are attracting employees that suit your organisational culture is also important.

“It’s really critical to understand which audiences you’re looking for at particular times of the year and how you design your methods of attraction.”

But for managing  high-volume applications, applicant tracking systems (ATS) are valuable, Mr Ravensdale said.

“ATS that’s going to give you a great level of automation in terms of workflow so can process abnormally large numbers, some of our clients receive thousands of application in a few days so having that capability mapped in a system that allows you to move people through and make selections is really critical. If you don’t have an ATS being aware of what process you want to follow and having clear processes.”

But whether you hire employees or not, always ensure you retain information about strong applicants in your talent pool, to ensure you have direct contacts in the future.

“By building your talent pool effectively you’re able to get ahead of the game so instead of getting caught out in a rush, you can start hiring by going to previous candidate pools and finding people you believed were good for the company but didn’t have a need for them at that time.”

Branching out to colleagues and friends is also a useful way to source last-minute talent, according to Mr Ravensdale.

“Ask your current employers if they have any friends who are able to come in to fill in a position – peers are likely to bring in like minded individuals, so the cultural fit should be there. Additionally, if a friend is already onboard, they are likely to look out for each other and keep work enjoyable, even at the last minute.”