Seasonal hiring for the holiday rush is in full swing at 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., which recently announced plans to bring in more than 10,000 seasonal associates across its gourmet foods and gift brands.
The slate of new roles is up by 25% compared to last year in order to meet new demand posed by pandemic-driven online shopping, CEO Chris McCann tells CNBC Make It, and this year's holiday class will effectively quadruple the company's year-round workforce.
The ambitious hiring plans will fill part- and full-time roles in production, gift assembly, customer service and distribution and fulfillment center operations. Openings are primarily in-person jobs on worksites throughout Illinois, Ohio and Oregon. Some work-from-home positions, particularly those in customer service, are available.
Here, McCann shares his best tips for getting hired in a seasonal role right now.
Given elevated health risks due to the coronavirus pandemic, McCann says one key characteristic stands out when a candidate is interviewing on location for a new job.
"We prioritize health and safety first and foremost," he says. He explains that company facilities abide by social distancing guidelines, require workers wear employer-provided personal protective equipment, and follow health and cleaning procedures intended to minimize the spread of the virus.
"This year, the rules are different, and you have to consider the health and safety of your coworkers as much as you do for yourself," McCann says. Job candidates who arrive for an interview ready to support and uphold safety guidelines will stand out: "We want to find people who understand that working environment."
In addition to following company rules to maintain the health and safety of the workplace, McCann says he counts on employees who are reliable and work hard. Candidates may stand out if they have a flexible schedule and express interest in overtime work, especially during an unprecedented and unpredictable shopping season. McCann is especially keen to hire applicants who say they'd like to return to the company for future seasonal work, or if they say they hope to join the company on a permanent basis after the holiday rush.
"We've been doing this for so long," McCann says, "some people who started in the contact center are now in our legal department, or there are people who started in warehouse operations who are now managers of customer service at our retail stores. Those are stories of how you build a great company, by giving people entry-level opportunities and, once they're inside a company, opportunity to move around."
The company says it hires roughly 5% of their seasonal workforce into permanent positions after the holidays.
Despite the influx of openings during one of the worst job markets in decades, McCann says he's prepared as an employer to recruit aggressively to fill roles. He says he hasn't seen much change in the volume of job applications so far, likely because the company faces stiff competition from other retailers working to hire for similar positions.
"The trend is it's getting tougher and tougher to find the qualified people we need for the holiday season, just as a surge of e-commerce activity puts demand on all e-commerce companies looking for same people," McCann says. "As an employer, we must be creative and competitive with our compensation plan."
Pay varies by role and market, and McCann says it's "very important" to him that starting hourly rate is listed in each job description. Seasonal associates are entitled to referral bonuses and employee discounts, and some positions offer additional benefits including 401(k) employer matching.
"We have to get creative and make it fun to work here," McCann says, adding that the company offers performance-based incentives and team-wide contests and raffles for extra perks, such as gift cards, throughout the season.
"It's important for us to find the right people," he says, "people with the right attitude doing the right thing, who want to inspire human expression, connection and celebration."