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Hiring during the holidays can be notoriously slow—candidates push off job searches until after the new year, hiring managers are on vacation, the list goes on! However, as recruiters, our need to fill positions doesn’t slow down, and that hard-to-fill role will still be there when you get back in January! It can be daunting to think of inserting your star candidate into the interview process during long bouts of PTO, travel and food-induced comas, but there are a few things you can do to keep candidates engaged. Here, 6 easy ways to keep the process moving forward over the holidays:

1. Manage your calendars.

In preparation for the holidays, double-check (and triple-check!) the calendars of everyone on your team to make sure your company is ready to interview when your star candidate is available. Email everyone involved in the hiring process and remind them to update their schedules, share availability, and notify you about any extended absences. When you know exactly when your team is available, you can approach the candidate with specific dates and times, which makes the candidate experience much more seamless and enjoyable.

2. Profit from PTO days.

Take advantage of a potentially open schedule on the candidate's end to accelerate the interview process. Things are slow for a reason during this time of year: Managers are out of the office, coworkers are traveling, and candidates might be working from home. If a candidate had a use-it-or-lose-it PTO policy, they may be stuck with 2 weeks off or their boss might be out of the office, giving them a bit more wiggle-room to shift their day around. Whatever the case, when schedules are more relaxed, it makes it easier for a candidate can sneak away for a 30-minute phone discussion or even take half-day off for an interview.

3. Get creative in your interviewing strategy.

Now that you know your calendar (and everyone else’s in your company) like the back of your hand, you may be faced with the exact issue that freed up candidates' time… hiring managers aren't in the office! But every day that goes by is a day when a candidate could be snatched up by a competitor, so it’s essential to keep things moving. Tell your team that you’ll need a bit more flexibility around the interview process while they are out of the office: You can’t freeze a candidate in place just because your IT Director is working from home. Instead, use Skype or Google Hangout to conduct face-to-face video interviews, which engage candidates more than just a phone call. If you know ahead of time that one particular manager will be unreachable for an extended period of time, work with that manager ahead of time to train someone else who can be their “interview substitute” for the week.

4. Give a little. After all, it IS the holidays!

As recruiters, during the holiday season, we are flooded with cards, company swag, and those mystery boxes of chocolate that almost always seem to be all coconut (blegh). Given that candidate flow is much lower at this time of year, maybe we should be the ones sending candidates something. Whether a simple phone call to wish them happy holidays or a t-shirt with your company’s name on it, going the extra mile will ensure that you remain in the forefront of their minds during a time where their job search is probably the last thing they are thinking about. Additionally, if you can’t conduct a next-round interview until the new year, this is also a great way to remind candidates that they can rest easy knowing you haven’t forgotten about them yet.

5. Use social media as your Rudolph.

The holiday season is prime social media time for anyone and everyone! Your top candidates most likely came from some form of social media or are connected with you in some way, so chances are they are actively browsing at least daily, especially with more time on their hands and extended family to avoid. Use social media to your advantage by posting about your company's holiday party, or highlight your company's' charitable contributions by posting pictures of your canned food drive. Anything that sets your company apart during this time will go a long way.

6. Show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Most importantly, it is still the holiday season, which means candidates are spending time with their loved ones and enjoying time away from work. Don't push candidates too hard: You don’t want to come across as the employer who’s stressing out candidates before they even start working for you! Be respectful of their space and make sure you have a clear understanding of their expectations and intentions throughout the process. Remember: It's also important for them to realize you have time off too, or they might get the impression your company makes its employees work through the holidays.

Ultimately, recruiters can use the holiday season to their advantage. We must be proactive, flexible, and creative in engaging candidates during a time that is often considered a wash for most interview processes. Flexibility combined with respect for their time will show we are committed to them as candidates but not too pushy or overbearing to get them in front of your hiring team.

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