50 min watch
Aug 9, 2022

Building a winning strategy for seasonal hiring.

Industry-leading experts share the strategies and best practices they implement to find, hire, and onboard the best talent with speed and scale.

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Register now.

In this webinar:

Join us along with Carlie Mueller, Sr. Manager of Talent and Erika McKibben, Manager of Retail Operations at Lids; Hollie Cummings, Sr. Director HR Strategy and Alex Fleming, Supply Chain Manager at Tractor Supply; and Tim Sackett to hear industry-leading experts share the strategies and best practices they implement to find, hire, and onboard the best talent with speed and scale.

These leaders discuss: 

  • When do you start thinking about seasonal/holiday hiring? 
  • What is the planning process?
  • What tools do you need?

In this webinar:

Join us along with Carlie Mueller, Sr. Manager of Talent and Erika McKibben, Manager of Retail Operations at Lids; Hollie Cummings, Sr. Director HR Strategy and Alex Fleming, Supply Chain Manager at Tractor Supply; and Tim Sackett to hear industry-leading experts share the strategies and best practices they implement to find, hire, and onboard the best talent with speed and scale.

These leaders discuss: 

  • When do you start thinking about seasonal/holiday hiring? 
  • What is the planning process?
  • What tools do you need?

Meet the speakers.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett
President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP is the CEO of HRUTech.com a leading technical recruiting firm.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett
President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP is the CEO of HRUTech.com a leading technical recruiting firm.

Carlie Mueller
Carlie Mueller
Sr. Manager of Talent at Lids

Dynamic HR leader with demonstrated record of success in Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, and Employee Development.

Erika McKibben
Erika McKibben
Manager of Retail Operations at Lids

Background in the event and sport industries with a completed a Bachelor of Science degree focused in Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management, a minor in Sports Marketing from Indiana University.

Hollie Cummings
Hollie Cummings
Sr. Director HR Strategy at Tractor Supply

Strategic HR professional with a passion to lead, inspire and develop others.

Meet the speakers.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett
President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP is the CEO of HRUTech.com a leading technical recruiting firm.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett
President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP is the CEO of HRUTech.com a leading technical recruiting firm.

Carlie Mueller
Carlie Mueller
Sr. Manager of Talent at Lids

Dynamic HR leader with demonstrated record of success in Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, and Employee Development.

Erika McKibben
Erika McKibben
Manager of Retail Operations at Lids

Background in the event and sport industries with a completed a Bachelor of Science degree focused in Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management, a minor in Sports Marketing from Indiana University.

Hollie Cummings
Hollie Cummings
Sr. Director HR Strategy at Tractor Supply

Strategic HR professional with a passion to lead, inspire and develop others.

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Megan Beigh (00:00):

Good morning for myself. Good afternoon for the rest of you. my name is Megan Beigh. I am an event specialist here at Paradox. And in today's webinar, we are going to be focusing on seasonal hiring, when to start thinking about it, how to prepare, and how to build a win winning strategy to make your next busy season the best one yet. So we have some amazing clients with us today. joining us are Carly Mueller, senior Manager of Talent, and Erika McKibben, manager of Retail Operations at Lids. And then we also have Hollie Cumming, senior Director of HR Strategy, and Alex Fleming, supply chain manager at Tractor Supply. And then for our discussion, moderated by Tim Second he is an analyst and an influencer with more than 20 years experience in the talent, HR, tech space, and author of the book, the Talent Fix, A Leaders Guide to Recruiting Great Talent.


And for those of you that are not familiar with us, paradox is the leading conversational recruiting software that is trusted by industry leading organizations to source, screen, hire, and onboard workers at speed at scale, our platform automates and centralizes all candidate communications via text, live chat, and email saving teams. Countless hours of manual hiring tasks. It can be used end to end or as an enhancement to an existing HR tech ecosystem providing flexibility to best solve employers hiring challenges. And also just a little bit of housekeeping before we get started. If you have questions during the presentation, please type the questions into the q and a box in your Zoom control panel, and then we will save time for Q and A at the end. and then without further ado, I will turn it over to Tim.

Tim Sackett (01:57):

All right, thank you. Okay, we're gonna get started real quick with a, a quick, I mean, I wouldn't say we already did the introductions, but look at what I want to do and I'll start over with Hollie and Alex, give us, obviously, so because you guys aren't in order, well, a couple of you are, a couple of you aren't, but tell us who you are and then like what you're responsible for at tsc. So we'll start with, with you, Hollie.

Hollie Cummings (02:21):

Yeah, thanks. excited to join today. I am Hollie Cummings, as they said, I have responsibility for HR strategy and team member experience. and within that big broad bucket I have our HR technology strategy as well as our team member experience strategy. And how, how important are those right now and in today's market? You know, I, I'm really excited to be partnered with, with Alex. She's our, our recruiting partner. and I'll go ahead and turn it over to her.

Tim Sackett (02:52):


Alex Fleming (02:52):

That's awesome. Thanks everyone. So I'm Alex Fleming, manager over supply chain recruiting. my primary function function oversees the recruiting efforts across our distribution network. So currently eight active buildings. Ninth is is underway. and recently that includes also our customer solution center and help desk teams, so the hiring for both of those business units as well.

Tim Sackett (03:17):

Cool, thank you. And then Lids, Erika and Carlie.

Carlie Mueller (03:22):

My name is Carlie Mueller, and as a senior manager of talent, I am responsible for talent acquisition, talent development and talent management here at Lids. So my team we're responsible for the corporate office and we support our retail stores more with strategy and you know, looking at these technology implementations and seeing what makes sense, but ultimately our stores staff themselves, so

Tim Sackett (03:49):

Yeah. Cool. And I was gonna talk about that a little bit, so Erika? Yeah.

Erika McKibben (03:52):

Yes. I'm Erika McKibbon, ID manager of retail store operations here at Lids. I am responsible for all store communication along with my team store communication, but the recruiting tools that they are using to staff all 12,000 of our stores here in the United States.

Tim Sackett (04:10):

Okay. So I'm gonna stay with Lids quickly. Like annual hires, seasonal hires, and then like a quick overview of like, you had mentioned, like how the hiring actually takes place. So obviously, you know, somebody finds the job and they apply, but then who's responsible? Like, I'm gonna go through that little process so people kind of understand that side of it.

Carlie Mueller (04:33):

Yeah, absolutely. So annually we do around 10,000 hires across corporate and retail, obviously with the majority of those being our retail business. And then for seasonal hiring, we're looking at, you know, two to three seasonal associates per store. So that equates to around two to 3000. and in terms of our hiring process for retail specifically it's basically the store manager's responsibility. and then, you know, above them, the district sales manager's responsibility across their stores to make sure that our stores are optimally staffed with the right people. and today we have, I'm sure we'll get into it here in a little bit, but various avenues is how you can apply to lids. And then it's our store manager's responsibility to kind of carry a candidate through that process and get them hired.

Tim Sackett (05:32):

All right. Hollie and Alex kinda the same question, like annual hires and then like we can, we can, we can talk either retail or distribution, you guys decide, but what's that process look like right now?

Hollie Cummings (05:44):

Yeah why don't we tag team this one? Cool. So I, I would say that for overall hiring for a seasonal never stops. we are, we are always in a season of some sort, and so it's really, really important for us to stay focused on the strategy from year to year and really start planning the year before. but we are really, we, we hire around 15, 10 to 15,000 a year. And so it's really important for us to stay focused on what that strategy is for the next year. And even in our DC population right now, as, as you can imagine, it's, it's a tough market. And I'll let Alex kind of take that one.

Alex Fleming (06:19):

Yeah, sure. And so sticking with the dcs, we rolled out a centralized recruiting team at the earlier part of the year. so what that entails is, is that team kind of focuses on a region, so to speak and they manage all of the non-exempt efforts for that building. largest population being our DC team members. They work to get them through what we call a direct hire model. So, you know, really focusing on that candidate quality, experience, efficiency and speed through that process to go ahead and, and move those candidates through in this market. and then if we think about some of the changes on like the corporate side and the store side, we do have dedicated recruiters for those business units. and then at the hourly level for the store team members, that is going to be similar to ledge, just managed by the store managers.

Tim Sackett (07:06):

Okay, awesome. Thank you. So Friday jobs report came out, 3.5% unemployment, 50 year historic over 10 and a half million jobs open. If you turn on the news, the world is ending and there's massive unemployment and layoffs happening everywhere. If you're actually in talent acquisition and hiring, we know that's a complete lie cuz we are desperate for, for people. biggest hiring challenges right now. I'll start with Lids.

Carlie Mueller (07:35):

Biggest hiring challenges? Challenge, I think, I mean, competition is fierce especially in the retail space, right? Like anybody could choose any store in the mall. our candidates are also looking at restaurant, they're looking at, you know, distribution. Like, you know, it's really, it's so competitive and it's really gone beyond just an hourly rate that you can offer, right? Where, you know, it's getting more competitive in terms of kind of those intangibles. so I would, I would just say the competition is very, very fierce, especially in specialty retail.

Tim Sackett (08:16):

Understandable. Tsc?

Alex Fleming (08:19):

I think we'd probably echo that. I mean definitely competition volume of openings compared to the job seekers right now. You know, there's so many options. So I think that that certainly continues to pose a, a consistent challenge, you know, year after year.

Hollie Cummings (08:34):

Yeah. And tractor's also very unique in our retail store space because we hire our customers, our customers live our lifestyle and so we, we do have a little bit of a connection there from our customer base to our candidate experience as well. So they know our teams they know 'em really well and so it's really unique for, for them to have the connection to the community as well. So we're, we're actually pretty fortunate in the retail store space.

Tim Sackett (09:00):

Yeah. Carlie, you made an interesting kind of observation in terms of that the competition isn't necessarily just other specialty retail, it could be restaurants, hospitality, it could be distribution centers. I think in everyone and then we have the Amazon effect, right? Like, I don't like Alex, have you guys opened up like a a like a tent outside an Amazon warehouse as, so as they come in the front door and then they let 'em go through the back door, you just like recycle. cuz like seemed like Amazon's hiring everybody. I think I saw a stat a few weeks ago that within like 10 years, like one out of every five us like citizens would've worked at Amazon at some point in their life. Like, it's just an insane amount of effect when you get those kinds of big, you know, hiring things that are out there. Let's dig in, cause I know we wanna talk about seasonal and that's like the biggest aspect and I'll stick with tsc when you guys obviously go from season to season, so it's busy. And you talked about an annualized plan. If you think about year to year, season to season, how did, how does that planning start when you start thinking about it? Like how far in front of your hiring plan are you right now?

Alex Fleming (10:08):

Yes, so as Hollie mentioned, we are always in a season, so, you know, there are certainly right going to be certain business needs that dictate or determine what some of those hiring strategies look like. You think of your spring peak seasons or day after Thanksgiving and the the DC world. but ultimately, right, we've, we've put these plans into place to think about internship hiring and you know, just continuing to bring team members on to support the influx of volume that we've seen over the years. so really like our planning never stops. we just continue to roll year after year knowing, you know, what we wanna expand on. being able to look at some different trends and forecast, you know, from what took place in the year that we're in and how can we kind of build upon that moving forward.

Tim Sackett (10:51):

Yeah, it's, it's definitely, it seems like over the last probably 18 months, like we have always had like this traditional kind of holiday hiring or summer hiring depending on where, you know, kind of what your season was. And it seems like now everyone's just hiring all the time, like the <laugh>, it was like, oh yeah, we know we have this coming but we still have to hire a bunch Lids. I know you guys have our traditional holiday season coming up upon you. When do you guys start planning for that?

Erika McKibben (11:15):

Yeah, so our holiday hiring season, we've actually started our planning for the holiday season already back in July early July, right after the July holiday. So we try to get a head start and it seems every year we get earlier and earlier cuz we wanna make sure we're ahead of everybody. But we come off of our back to school summer hiring and go straight into holiday.

Tim Sackett (11:40):

Can we get, I wanna get a little tactical in terms of like how you measure, so you obviously go through whatever process you go through and you come up with that number and like you said, it's gonna be, you know, two or three per, how do you start tracking and when do you start, when do the alarm bells start popping in terms of like, or is it, is it by by location or is it by region or like how do you guys go through that process of knowing if you're doing good or not doing well?

Carlie Mueller (12:08):

Our HR business partners have really strong ties to the regional directors and our district sales managers. And so, you know, it and our recruiting team has a really strong partnership with operations, hence why we're both here. So I think it's kind of just always having a pulse on our people and how they're doing. when there is a situation where maybe arms are thrown up, like we need people, we hear it. Yeah. and I think it's not complicated, it's honestly just we're all responsible for certain you know, leaders in the business who are responsible for store managers and we stay in touch with them and just understand like where everyone's at. And I think you have a series of tracking forms and charts and systems and things that, you know, track how many seasonals have been hired per district. But yeah, it's kinda fluid.

Tim Sackett (13:07):

So you, so there's some, some kind of, some some analytics there that give you some either kind of indicators on like where you're gonna probably potentially hit some problems if, or you're doing fine, you know?

Carlie Mueller (13:18):


Tim Sackett (13:19):

Yeah. Okay. Tsc, when you guys take a look at that, like on an average tracking basis from the plan, is that something you guys are looking at? Do you look at it daily, weekly, monthly? How are you guys? What, what's that tracking look like? Cause I know on a distribution side, like that can be a really difficult right now to hire.

Hollie Cummings (13:35):

Yeah, I, we use a, a variety of tools to ensure that we're measuring the effectiveness of of our postings, number one. and then we're, we're always we're always partnered in connecting the dots across the business as well. So it's not just DCS in it alone, right? So as an HR leadership team and a TA team, we're constantly connected and having the conversations of how do we drive the, the right metrics to what our KPIs are for the year, right? Yeah. So just tying it to our overall Strat hiring strategy and I'm sure Alex can add some more to that.

Alex Fleming (14:12):

No, I, I think Hollie's right, I mean, we stay really connected and you know, Carly and Erika mentioned it too. I mean, you're gonna know, right? If, if people are feeling the pressure as we approach you know, that holiday or peak season or what have you. so, you know, I think it's all about that communication and, and continuing right to, to just really focus your efforts on what what you guys know has worked well previously. and then think about right where there was challenges again from the year before. How can you improve upon those adds and pivots as needed? and just make sure everybody's getting that support that they need.

Tim Sackett (14:44):

Is there any levers that you guys have? Like I know traditionally, right, there's certain things we would do when we think, think like, okay, things are slow or not, not like progressing the way they should. Have those changed at all over the last two years, three years in terms of like, I mean, traditionally if you think three to five years ago you would probably be like all over the job boards and all over indeed and all of this stuff and like, we just need to do more of that. Is that, is that still the same or are there, are there some other aspects to that that you found over the last like two years that, that maybe have worked better?

Erika McKibben (15:23):

I would say, I would say.

Tim Sackett (15:24):

Let's go ahead.

Erika McKibben (15:24):

Go ahead. Sorry. I would say for us it's the, the quick engagement with candidates. It's crucial. Like we talked, the competition is fierce, so we have to jump on a potential candidate as soon as possible. And the digital world that we live in now has definitely changed the recruiting and hiring market.

Alex Fleming (15:49):

Yeah, go ahead. I do think, yes, that the candidate capturing candidate care has been huge. also, you know, we've added a, a couple additional automation pieces just so we don't have to have those ongoing conversations with the job board, with the, you know, the indeeds. but to allow our positions to continue to stay fresh, keep them circulating right throughout the job boards and, and keeping them at the top. additionally with some of our programmatic efforts, we've allowed further expansions of our position. So job titles, geo expansions just allowing those candidates in various markets and opportunity to, to potentially come across our positions.

Tim Sackett (16:29):

So I think potentially, no, Alex, I wanna dig into that a little bit cause I think potentially there's a lot of people that are watching that are like, okay, so you said programmatic, we hear programmatic, but they're then they're still going down this path of doing traditional stuff. What, who are you guys using at programmatic and explain a little bit about how that works.

Alex Fleming (16:44):

Sure. So we utilize Bayer, that is our, our agency of choice. and so utilizing it, we really kicked it off in the DC world. and, and we did see great results, the opportunity to think about the fact that, you know, some of our candidates might not be searching a position by DCT member which is what we, we title it internally. Yeah, right. kind of opening up some of those different expansion expansions, excuse me, to allow for better visibility. but also knowing that our, our team members, they, they don't live, you know, always in really populated areas, so they're going to be commuting. So how do we allow some of that expansion from a geo standpoint, you know, allow that to really help them find those opportunities that might suit them. and that, that has, has been a big piece as we've now transitioned into adding our help desk and customer solution center, which is our call center here at the corporate office. allowing them an opportunity right, to again, find those openings that might interest them, especially amongst all the competitors that have, you know, similar openings.

Tim Sackett (17:49):

Yeah, it's more, it, I mean it allows you to be more right approach than shotgun approach, right? I think when we think about traditional job advertising on the boards, it's basically just like you're gonna spray across a wide area and hope that you find programmatic becomes much more, like you said, like some geotargeting, geofencing, whatever you're gonna be using on some of that stuff allows you to come right into an area and really concentrate heavily there. Which I think is, it also can be like a great way to go after your competitor's, you know, talent as well, <laugh> from, especially on the distribution side. but no, definitely. So I wanna get back to the timing cuz you both talked about kind of this immediacy of engaging candidates and I know traditionally we would take a look at SLAs across the board on any kind of applicant and it might be, oh, you know, 24, 48 hours, you know, and we felt really good about that knowing that we would never even come close to that.


But we, we we, our hiring managers signed off and we did, and we kind of lied to each other thinking that was gonna happen. And over the last really 24 months, we've seen this evolution of kind of mass volume, high volume, hourly recruiting technology like paradox that the moment somebody engages with your site, with the job, whatever, obviously this conversational AI jumps in. And so you have an immediate kind of connection and like tracking mechanism. Talk about, and I'll start with Liz, like talk about the, that change going from, oh, somebody applied, maybe a store manager will connect with them the next shift they have, or you know, whenever they get, you know, have that chance because we have really non recruiters that are responsible for so much of this process. Like how has that changed how you guys recruit from an hourly standpoint?

Erika McKibben (19:35):

For us, the automation of it all has given our people time back in their day to do store operations. So they're not necessarily worrying about scheduling their candidate or looking at or sifting through resumes to decide who they want to interview because the text to apply function that we've implemented is doing that for them. So at the end of the day, it gives them more time to sell, talk to customers, things like that. it's really changed their outlook and has really made a big impact on our company.

Carlie Mueller (20:15):

I mean, yeah, and just to give you an idea, so prior to implementing AI into the process, I mean it was a question as to is that candidate even going to get engaged? Right? you know, a lot of our stores are single coverage the way that we are structured and with it being a specialty retailer, so, you know, they're doing a lot, they're wearing a lot of hats no pun intended, but so there was a question, right? Like, can we even get to reviewing these applications? Yeah. and now somebody can walk through the mall, see a QR code or a text number at lids, and even if they're semi-interested, you know, apply and be engaged, they can ask questions and they can even schedule an interview within minutes. And so the fact that every single applicant will be engaged is amazing. It's a game changer.

Tim Sackett (21:22):

Yeah. I'm always, I'm, I'm still, I'm amazed I'm, I'm waiting cuz I get, I get stuck in like, I, like, I like shoes and you know, I get like caught up with all like the like, oh, Texas this like this, and you get like a 15% thing and then every single day you're getting these stupid text messages about what sale items or whatever. I'm wondering when TA is gonna pick up on like, so because all of us hire like, and Tse I said as well, we, we hire our customers and when they go and they scan that QR code to get some kind of a discount or some kind of a whatever, when are we retargeting them as then potential employees based on what we're doing on the, on the customer side? Because really the automation is exactly the same. And when do, when does our, like, and maybe this is like a great, like Erika question of when does our operations partners allow us to pimp all of our customers for, to become a, a candidate, right? <laugh>, like there's that fine line, right? Where marketing's gonna be like, don't do that, but we're like, well wait a minute, we're already hiring our customers, why shouldn't we? So tsc, I'm gonna throw, I mean, I'll throw you the, the question back on like the timing aspect. Obviously this immediacy side, you guys have been using paradox a little bit longer. What's, what's the difference a year plus into it than what you had before?

Hollie Cummings (22:36):

Yeah, it is, I'll echo the words game changer for us. so it allows our, our applicants to apply when it's right for them. It's on their time, right? So the, the unlock is the time it takes to complete. We saw a 41% reduction in time to complete application once we implemented our project with paradox. So what I've, what I've seen more often than not is we have an influx of candidates for our, our stores and our DC population to interact with in a, in a really quick manner. So that, that was the game changer for us. So it's, it's a huge metric to be proud of from both a paradox side and a tractor side of the house.

Tim Sackett (23:21):

Yeah, no, it's huge. Go ahead, jump

Alex Fleming (23:23):

Into what Hollie was saying too, Tim, you know, not only just the engaging of candidates, but getting them engaged with tractor that much more quickly. Yep. So, right? Our, our chatbot 'Corey', she is able to, you know, speak to different tractor details more about our mission statement, more about our values, you know, really connecting team members and understanding, you know, what is this company that I'm, I'm starting this interaction with, which I think is, is helpful in the long run.

Tim Sackett (23:48):

Yeah, no, I, I do think it's, it's amazing too that we start to have different levels of conversation within talent acquisition and operations that are much more metrics driven. I think most of us that work in TA for the longest time have no idea how many people are coming to our career site and dropping off before being engaged, right? We just didn't, we didn't have the systems in place, we didn't have the technology in place to be able to measure. And then once you start to see it, you realize like how much just waste we had in the process and how fast that can kind of move at this part.

Hollie Cummings (24:17):

Just for an example, our average was 29 minutes for a candidate to complete an application. It's now 12. So yeah, that's huge!

Tim Sackett (24:24):

That's amazing. And then like, and also like to be able to reengage somebody because again, we never know when someone's gonna apply and what happens in their life. Someone calls 'em, all of a sudden they forget to go back. And to be able to have kind of an automation impact that is going back after them to kind of get them to finish that apply to me is, is another game changer as part of that. So I'm gonna go back to Lids. Talk to me now about where you're at seasonal hiring wise. if you have like some strategy or ideas that you wanna share with other ones that are going through the same process right now.

Carlie Mueller (25:01):

Sure. so like Erika mentioned, and we should tag team this one for sure, <laugh>. but we started in July. which I would say since I've been here I've been with LIS for about five years. That's the earliest I think we've started. and again, you can't start too early for us because every year is so different. I mean, you threw c in to the equation and that changed everything. And then every year, I mean, retail is just constantly evolving. And so there is an element of you have to figure things out in real time. we did start in July, you know, we have really robust plans from just an HR and talent acquisition side, partnering with operations. I know they have, there's a lot of meetings with marketing and everybody just cross collaborating. in terms of the actual hiring that really picks up starting in October, typically that's when we really start ramping up closer to when we're actually going to make those hires. but it's a multilayered approach, you know, it's not just we're, we're using a variety of job boards and AI and a robust h i s system and you know, it's, I think it was Josh Secrest with Paradox and formerly with McDonald's, you know, we had a really great conversation and the fact that like, you can't just choose one tool or one avenue is, it's a lot of different things that work for different locations. And so, yeah. Yeah.

Tim Sackett (26:41):


Carlie Mueller (26:41):

I'll piggyback.

Erika McKibben (26:42):

Sorry, I have one thing I don't wanna miss. Yeah. one thing that we really focused on this year is after the hiring or training program, and we've really made our training program easy for those seasonal hires. It's a quicker process. Our people on the field are doing the training, but it's not necessarily sitting through a hundred page training document. It's a, I'm gonna tell you how to do it and then I'm gonna show you how to do it and then you are going to do it approach. so that's something that we're really excited about rolling out here in September actually to get started before holiday hiring.

Tim Sackett (27:25):

Yeah, I think that's, it's always a challenge, right? Cause you, you're trying to get 'em hired as fast you can, trying to get 'em up to speed as fast as you can. And then, you know, it's like, how do we maintain all of that, but still obviously produce great customer service, great customer experience, all of that stuff that's there. Hollie, what about you guys? Do, what, what could you share with the audience in terms of, you know, seasonal hiring kind of things they should be like really focusing on and things that can help them during their upcoming season?

Hollie Cummings (27:52):

Yeah, I think my, my biggest piece of advice would be automate where it makes sense that that is probably the, the one piece that we keep as kind of our golden thread as we start to think about process improvement from a, from an end to end perspective and just really making sure that the earlier you set your strategy, the better. So you really should be talking about next year's strategy right now in August. and so paradox has done a great job of pushing us where it makes sense too to do that mm-hmm. <affirmative> where we might have not been as mature prior to our implementation. And now we're starting to really ask the tough questions to the business now a little more proactively than reactively.

Tim Sackett (28:36):

Cool. All right. We're gonna open it up and do some q and a cause I think that's why a lot of people come and we'll throw it out there. And then is there anything else Shopwise, we, we forgot to mention or talk about as we're waiting for questions to come up? And if, for those that don't know, you can go right into the q and a panel and throw those in.


Anyone <laugh>, this is always the fun part as we sit and talk about this. So as we're waiting for those to come in, I wanna talk a little bit about, oh, here's some coming up. I wanna talk a little bit about one of the things that people get kind of concerned with, with any kind of technology thing, right? Is this implementation side. and so when you start to going through one is ai and maybe Hollie I'll start with you. Did, do you guys have any concerns? Did Tse in their legal team have concerns with the, like the ethical side of ai? Did that come up in the conversation and then, you know, did, did you guys really think about, because I think like some of the concerns I hear from the industry is, are we sure we're gonna do this? Is this gonna have some kind of negative impact to our apply process or something like that? Did you guys like have to go through that process and discussion?

Hollie Cummings (30:05):

We definitely partnered with our legal team and, and broader HR leadership team as well. I would say that the concern for us was more about timing. They were hungry for it. So ours was a little bit opposite. The concern was how quick can we get it in the hands of our, of our teams to make everyday easier for them, right? So trying to at least lessen the load of, of what their experience was with COVID stacked on top of the ever-changing talent market was so vitally important to us. so concern, probably not so much more of excitement and they were, they were just eager to get it, get it done, but make it right too. Make it right for, for the business.

Tim Sackett (30:45):

Yeah. Awesome. question came in, this is from, from Mary and it's really, it's almost like, it's probably a two part question. She has it as a one part question, but it's gonna, it's gonna create another question, <laugh>. So have you, have you seen any impact on the quality of hire by implementing automation and going so much faster? So, you know, I'll stick with tse, you guys go ahead and answer that and then we'll go to Lids and answer the same question.

Alex Fleming (31:09):

Sure. So I can take that one. So obviously, right, moving in an a centralized fashion to a direct hire model timing was the, the name of the game. and, and we removed a lot of those maybe barriers that would've screened out some of those, you know, what we're calling quality measures. so certainly, you know, we, we noticed where we needed to focus our efforts where we could add some screening where it made sense and some different questions as part of like the automation that Corey, for example could ask just to help us weed out, you know, candidates that just may not have been the right fit at this time. so it's certainly evolving as we continue to look at, you know, again, what what traditionally would have been quality candidates to TSC and you know, now in this new market in the talent pool that we're working within, you know, what is that evolving to? and so I think it's ongoing.

Tim Sackett (32:03):

Yeah, Lids?

Erika McKibben (32:05):

I would say our answer is very similar. We did the screening questions in the conversation, which have significant, positively impacted our candidates. going back to our store managers are the ones doing the hiring so they're not worrying about maybe candidates that aren't a good fit for lids. so yeah, and, but it, it is changing and we've altered it a few times just learning from our mistakes in the implementation process, but overall

Carlie Mueller (32:38):

The screening within the conversation has definitely helped our team a lot. Yeah, and just to add one other thing, you know, we're still new into this, into our implementation, but you know, we are already seeing quality increase because we're talking to more candidates, right? And so, or we're capturing more candidates for sure, yeah. Than you were before. Undoubtedly there's no candidate going, you know, not being communicated to. So that's been really exciting. and our store managers are also probably interviewing more than they ever have because there are also more candidates. So it's exciting in that sense that, you know, hoping to see the quality boost.

Tim Sackett (33:28):

So the, the other part of that question is we like, well, how do we measure quality then, right? That becomes like the really big one, <laugh>, because are we really measuring candidate quality or really just applicant quality? So like, I think a lot of companies that's, and I've had this product or this conversation with the paradox team of saying maybe we need to change that, like that, what we call that. Because vernacular within town acquisition, we all wanna talk about quality of hire, but really you only measure quality of hire after the person's been on for so long. Could be 90 days, could be a year, whatever. And it's based on their performance. It's not based on, well we didn't fire 'em yet. Like, oh great, they must be great quality. And you're like, well no, that's doesn't mean they're great quality, it just means they haven't screwed up enough that we were gonna get rid of them.


And so do we really, are we really measuring quality of applicant or are we really measuring quality of hire? And then who's responsible? Is that the TA team or is that the hiring manager who did this election? Right? So I'm always like, my argument is quality of hires isn't really a TA measure, it's a hiring manager measure where quality of applicant, maybe we can then measure that back to TA or tech stack, whatever that might be, what we're using. But you guys made a great point in that automatically our qualities should be going up because we're getting so many more people throughout, like, through the process. I you, I told you guys I was gonna answer all questions at you that I, we didn't talk about. So you're not ready. cause I love that. Cause I'm just, I wanna scare Hollie, you know, at her, at her news desk.


Thanks Tim. Now when we, when we think about AI and getting more people through, ideally what we're gonna see is a more inclusive workplace, right? We should see that because now we don't have an individual, we don't have a human in the loop making some decisions and they have that unconscious bias. Now people could argue that the algorithm or the AI has bias, but we can, we can control for that. and we actually know what that is. We can constantly go in and take a look. When do you guys believe we'll get to a point in our organizations where we start to really look at that top of funnel diversity through the entire process step by step and how you're, I see you looking over the house going, we're doing this already. No, but because I think our executives were like, well they, they obviously are, are very concerned about diversity, equity and inclusion belonging, but we haven't really given 'em the data to go, oh, but here's where the impact is.


So look, great example would be, let's say that our top of funnel is a 50 50 male female, right? Somewhere along the line when we get to hiring, if it's not 50 50 when we hire, there was an impact on that, on that process. And so I'm wondering on a d, d and I perspective, and Hollie I'll start with you. Are you guys there yet? Do you feel like in the future you're gonna be there where you can start to advise our executives to say, Hey, we know exactly where the problem is and we're gonna go and address it.

Hollie Cummings (36:15):

So D, E, and I for, for Tractor Supply is a business imperative and it starts at candidate experience. So we don't, we don't wait until the candidates in the chair, it starts before that, right? So making sure that the metrics that we serve up to our EC are are accurate and also representing the communities we serve as well. So it's not just a straight number on what DC sits where, and it's more about are we, are we mirroring the communities that we serve? Yep. And that's the metric we're, we're really bumping ourselves up against. And so we've done a ton of work this year to make sure that we are getting better, we're not there. and, but we are committed to doing better and tracking it and, and sharing our story with our, our tractor family.

Tim Sackett (37:08):

Yeah, I definitely think that's the way to do it. Carlie?

Carlie Mueller (37:11):

Yeah, I, I think our answer is very similar from a top of funnel standpoint in terms of what we're tracking with ai. I mean, it's still so new for us, so we're learning. but I think it is incredibly exciting that we are able to track more. We are able to get more granular with that data and make, you know, a greater impact. in terms of de and I de and I has become a very large topic at Lids. It has been for a while, but recently our leadership team has decided to take an even more active approach. And so again, I mean, I think we're excited but it's still new for us.

Tim Sackett (37:57):

Yeah, I mean I've been in situations in in town acquisition leader positions where I've seen even my own recruiting team start to filter out knowing that the hiring manager had certain bias, right? And so all of a sudden you're like, well wait a minute, why? Like, you're not helping the process. But they're like, well, it's just a waste of our time if we sent, you know, females to a distribution job when they, I know the guy only wants to hire guys or whatever. And like that stuff's real life. That stuff happens. And I think the one thing I love about the conversational AI screen side is that it's there. That's not gonna happen. So at least we know they're gonna get through. Now if we have a hiring manager who has bias, that's gonna show up and it's gonna pop pretty, pretty, pretty regular in terms of what that looks like.


So I do think like there's such an impact here that like a positive impact to how D, E, and I is, is actually measured. How I agree with you... I think that as you match the communities that you're in, that becomes really difficult. Cause it's not just the community, it's also, it's the community plus within the community, the people willing to work those jobs. And like, there's so many variables to it that it's almost next to impossible for us to get there, but we're getting closer and closer I think in terms of having at least an educated kind of conversation around here's where we're at. and, and like, and here's where we know what our problems are gonna be. Had another question come in while we were talking. How do you guys maintain kind of an open dialogue with store managers, with the hiring managers that support their hiring needs? Traditionally it's all email, phone calls. How does that work now with the technology that you have? Erika will start with you.

Erika McKibben (39:29):

Yeah. my team has a open inbox phone to all of our district managers. we have roughly 60 to 70 district managers here in the United States. So we are always here to support them. And I get feedback often on our recruiting and hiring tools that we've provided for them, whether it's if they need assistance with something, if they need more training on how to use them or if they have an idea of how to make it better. Cuz at the end of the day, they're the ones talking to their store managers and they are doing the hiring at field level. So their opinions and communication is very important to us.

Tim Sackett (40:15):

Cool. Hollie?

Hollie Cummings (40:18):

So Alex, yeah, we can text. You wanna go first?

Alex Fleming (40:22):

Well, I was gonna say, you know, teamwork is one of our core values here at Tractor and I think that is, is really apparent in the way that our teams have been able to collaborate and talk about, again, what's working, what's not, what do we need more of, you know, where do we wanna ramp up these efforts? and I mean, huge kudos across like the TA team and the broader HR leadership team cuz there is such collaboration on, again, what are the needs? How are we gonna get there? What resources are there for us to, to meet some of those goals and objectives. I know Hollie will probably speak to some of the, the data pieces that her team, you know, is able to throw into there, but I think just to Erika's point, keeping the communication open, having those regular touch bases, building that partnership and relationship with your business is, is huge. and, and I think that that makes it a bit more seamless.

Hollie Cummings (41:07):

And I think having a a fluid workforce plan is also really important today, right? So as our HR partners and TA team are partnering with the business, making sure that we understand what the needs are 3, 6, 12 months out, so that way we have a step ahead in the game of, of really supporting them the way they need. But then a, being able to pivot our strategy from an AI perspective to make sure that we're gathering the content that they need as well to inform their strategy. So it's, it's a really tight relationship we have here. and I know we, we keep saying it, it's really, it's, it's real, yeah. <laugh>, but we are in lockstep and, and that allows us to move really fast.

Tim Sackett (41:46):

Yeah, it's pretty powerful when everybody's working for the success of another from a peer standpoint. I think that's difficult. I've been in environments that were like that. I've also been the opposite side where it seems like you were in competition with each other, which makes it kind of like a crazy environment to, to work because you want 'em to succeed cuz you wanna succeed, but you're not necessarily working for their success. That's a difference, right? From that standpoint. quick question and I'll start with you Carly. Like thinking of your talent acquisition process and tech stack that you have right now, what's missing? What do you wish you had? Or what if, if you could create something that's not there, what would it be?

Carlie Mueller (42:23):

That's a good question. I think just continuing the automation you know, so we have it from candidate capture, interview scheduling. It would be awesome to carry it out even through the offer process. So we don't have that today. and I think that would be really cool just to continue that candidate experience you know, and help bring candidates in faster,

Tim Sackett (42:54):

Faster. Hollie?

Hollie Cummings (42:56):

I'm gonna let Alex give her wishlist because I'm her tech partner, so I wanna hear what this wishlist might I know. Yeah,

Alex Fleming (43:02):

Hollie gets a lot of feedback

Hollie Cummings (43:04):

From me, <laugh>.

Alex Fleming (43:05):

But you know, as we are, are continuing to implement different areas. I love the offer. I idea. I think that that is, is something that would be huge and just take some of that manual piece out of that as well. Hollie knows my affinity for texting, so any time that we can send two-way communications to candidates and even new team members right through our systems is a huge win. and I know that that's something that we wanna continue to broaden and, and, you know, develop. I feel like those are my two big ones.

Hollie Cummings (43:37):

I would also add data. we, we can't get enough of it. we always want more. We always want it in different ways. and, and a lot of times it's, it's a matter of making sure that we're answering the right questions with the data that we have, but then also serving the business up to have a, a quick view into what's working and what's not mm-hmm. <affirmative> through a scorecard approach. And so I would say data, data exclamation point is, is what we want more of.

Tim Sackett (44:07):

Hollie, you wrote down, I was at HR Tech last year on a panel with three heads of ta and we said, besides your core hiring platform, so like your paradox, your ATS or whatever you're using to hire, what's the, the number one thing that you couldn't live without? And across the board, all three said their BI tool, like, like business intelligence and data was the number one thing. Like there. And like, and I think it's something we're still, it's still evolving. Like we we're not very good at it. It within talent acquisition. and, and most of us are using multiple tools, right? So we have data things all over the place. And so it's hard to bring all that stuff together from that, that point for sure. Alex, I think, I think conversa, I mean I know it is cuz I've, I've talked with the, with the paradox team, but I know conversational yeah.


To be this way. But we actually tested doing this manually and it's like anti ghosting kind of technology, right? Which is, if you think about once somebody has interviewed and accepted the job, but they still have this time period whether it's three days, five days, and seasonal hiring, it could be a month right before they start, how do you keep them on the hook? How do you keep them in the process? And part of it we did. So we tested out basically sending them a text every single day, but every other day was a call to action. So it might be as simple as, oh my gosh, I forgot the start date I gave you. We didn't forget. But it was just, if they responded that meant, hey I'm, it was, oh it was July 9th or whatever. And then it was, oh hey, I, I see you're starting and you know on Monday our security needs a copy of your, of your driver's license or your id.


Can you just take a picture of it and send it to me Again, call to action had nothing to do with actually needing that. it could be right, we could work that in the process where we weren't just wasting their time. But what happened was every single time somebody didn't respond on a call to action, then the human had to jump in the loop and say, Hey, what's going on? Right? Why isn't this interaction happening? And we actually used multi, so it wasn't just the recruiter or the, or the TA or the HR person. We also had like our hiring managers, which again, this was all automated. So the hiring manager wasn't actually doing it. It was all set up in like, you know, kind of a, a nurturer campaign via sms. And it was, Hey, oh my gosh, like thank you for interviewing.


I can't, I I, they told me that you accepted I can't wait for your to coming in. But it was just one text message every single day until they started, even the morning or the afternoon, if it was an afternoon shift that they were supposed to start in literally. So we did it with a manufacturing facility and they went from like a 40% ghosting rate down to like 10% just by and like the people. And then we interviewed afterwards and said, why, like why did you decide to show up for this job when you had so many other jobs to show up for? And they said for the first time, like in an hourly position, I felt like somebody actually wanted me more than everybody else. So they had no idea the automation was the one that was kind of picking it up. So I love the potential for like onboarding, anti ghosting, pre-boarding stuff that kind of goes beyond, you know, once we hook 'em, how do we keep 'em? Cause that's so hard right now. Like I can't imagine in seasonal hiring the amount of offers you have to make to what the people will actually show up for the job, right. When you're doing this so far at a time.

Carlie Mueller (47:15):

Yeah, the AI has also helped with ghosting and the interview process as well. So, you know our chat bot is Olivia and you know, Tractor Supply has Corey and I'm sure they both do similar things, but you know, Olivia will text the candidate, Hey, don't forget you have an interview tomorrow at this lid store in this city. and that has also been really great for our teams. just that extra little reminder and engagement just to keep the candidate coming back.

Tim Sackett (47:53):

Yeah, no doubt. Hollie, I saw you writing something down. What was it you gotta share now? We all saw it.

Hollie Cummings (47:59):

So I wrote down, I wanna actually change one of the metrics. I wanna change the title to ghosting rate instead of fall off or <laugh>. <laugh> <laugh>

Tim Sackett (48:09):

A ghosting rate. I love that. Yeah. So I'm gonna, that should be, that should be a common TA metric, right? Right. Like our hiring managers get so frosted by that. One of the last thing we did on the, the day they were supposed to start their shift, we actually sent them one text message and this is all it said was, we understand life happens and if you're not gonna show up today, we get it. Please let us know. We don't wanna break up kind of thing, right? And again, very few did, but some Dick was, we were able then to get to the hiring manager and go, Hey look, this is because the last thing they wanna do is be sitting there, no one shows up and then you feel like an idiot as a recruiter or as a HR person, ta person that the person didn't show. And so it gives that candidate an out at the very least like, it's okay. Like, we're not gonna hate you. And some of 'em will say, yeah, you know, I couldn't wait around or I had this other job come up, whatever. You're like, okay, cool. Like we're it's you're human. We're human. We get it. That's the way it goes. So Cool. It

Hollie Cummings (49:04):

Also allows you to capture a way, it's almost like an exit interview before they're hired. so why are they not comings? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we, we often lose that. Yeah. Data point. So

Tim Sackett (49:15):

Yeah, no doubt. So real quickly, all four of you and I'll start Hollie cause you're just talking, how can people connect with you on LinkedIn and if they have a question privately, they can just send you there?

Hollie Cummings (49:25):

Yes, find me on LinkedIn. feel free to reach out. anytime. I'll, I'll make time and Alex and I can partner with you to answer any questions you may have, but we've really enjoyed the, the time today.

Tim Sackett (49:38):

Awesome, Carly?

Carlie Mueller (49:40):

Yeah, same for us. LinkedIn is where we're at. Definitely connect. I think I've already connected with both Alex and Hollie. there's just so much we can all learn from each other and, and bounce ideas off. So this has been awesome.

Tim Sackett (49:55):

Nice. And if you try to connect with Erika, she's got blonde hair probably on LinkedIn, <laugh>. she, you might not, she might go, that's the wrong person. I know that's not her.

Carlie Mueller (50:03):

I wearing a hat though. Yeah.

Tim Sackett (50:05):

Ladies, thank you so much for taking the time today and really kind of helping us educate around the seasonal hiring, high volume hiring aspect of what you're doing and how difficult it is right now. we really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Hollie Cummings (50:17):

Thank you. Thanks

Carlie Mueller (50:19):

Everyone. Thank you. Thank you.

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Building a winning strategy for seasonal hiring.

Aug 9, 2022

Meet the speakers.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett
President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP is the CEO of HRUTech.com a leading technical recruiting firm.

Carlie Mueller
Carlie Mueller
Sr. Manager of Talent at Lids

Dynamic HR leader with demonstrated record of success in Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, and Employee Development.

Erika McKibben
Erika McKibben
Manager of Retail Operations at Lids

Background in the event and sport industries with a completed a Bachelor of Science degree focused in Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management, a minor in Sports Marketing from Indiana University.

Hollie Cummings
Hollie Cummings
Sr. Director HR Strategy at Tractor Supply

Strategic HR professional with a passion to lead, inspire and develop others.

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