Hiring for rush can be a trial. What you need and what you get can easily be two different things. You need competent, smart people with customer service skills that can manage the confused, impatient and frustrated students that throng the store in search of required titles. For many, though, the criteria you normally use to evaluate an employee goes by the wayside during rush. The sheer need for bodies to man the floor outweighs all other priorities. Still, the semester’s start is the best time to make the sort of impression on students that prompts return business. How can you ensure you have employees that will offer customers a positive experience?
When asked what she looks for in temporary employees, Starla Marshall, Oklahoma State University Store assistant director of course content delivery, said, “Well, you’ve got to be personable and have a little bit of intelligence about you. Sometimes we just laugh and say, ‘Do they have a heartbeat?’”
MBS hires more than 500 temporary employees each year for rush. Most are students. For this reason, Vice President Human Resources, Jerome Rader — who has been with the company over two decades — has a wealth of experience to share with college stores.
Here are three keys to temporary hiring success drawn from Rader’s wisdom.
1. Use referrals.
Your very best resource for temporary employees is your current staff. Ask the students you know to inquire among friends about who would like to make some extra cash before the semester’s start. They’ll be selective, because they won’t want to work alongside a slacker. You might even sweeten the deal: Offer a bonus or a gift card or bonus to anyone on staff who refers a rush worker.
“Referrals really work,” said Rader. “Some of our best examples have been family members. We have had entire families work for us and they’ve been great!
2. Don’t start too early.
While it might seem wise to get a jump on seasonal hires early, you’ll have better luck — and fewer no-shows — if you put the word out closer to the semester’s start.
“It’s better to have a condensed time,” said Rader. “That’s an attraction for students, which is predominantly the application pool we want. We bring them in for the interviews, get them placed and started within a few weeks. If we start recruiting too far in advance, the process tends to drag out and we may not be able to get the numbers.”
3. Give a tour before you make an offer.
You’re accustomed to the textbook aisles at your store — but they might be daunting for many students. Before you make an offer, show your candidate exactly where he or she will be working. If you have several applicants, save time and give them all a tour at once. This gives them an opportunity to let you know they’re not interested before you’re counting on them.
“One thing we’ve done for years is bring candidates in and take them immediately out to the warehouse for a tour so they can see exactly what the job entails. That way they can know whether the job matches their specific needs and expectations,” said Rader.