The ultimate guide for hiring the best part-time employees

September 29, 2016

About 7 years ago, I took a part-time job with a florist shop that decorated homes for Christmas. I thought it would be a fun way to earn some extra holiday money and I’d get to see some of the more beautiful homes in our city. However, I was unprepared for the surly disposition of the owner. I also had no idea how terrified all of the other decorators were of her. I was the oldest (when am I not though?) of the group and the owner was my age or a little older. The other workers were young and very much intimidated. I’ll tell you how it all turned out after we look at the fine art of hiring part-time employees.

Part-time employees can make or break you

If you’re anticipating a higher than normal sales volume over the 4th quarter, now’s the time to be searching for, interviewing and hiring some additional part-time employees. The holidays can be chaotic. You need to rely on a top-notch sales team to do their jobs effectively, but hiring new salespeople to fit in with your existing staff is challenging. As you know, it’s not about hiring enough people. It’s about hiring the right people. Follow a few simple steps to guarantee the best hiring process possible.

  • Create a job description

Don’t underestimate the importance of writing it down. Once written, it becomes a formal document and gives you something to refer to when asking questions. Look closely at the job’s requirements and write out the skills necessary. The description should include the tasks that are expected and ones that may be added. Incorporate other requirements such as previous sales experience or education. Consider whether you’ll have specific sales goals for a part-time worker and add those expectations too. A job description for part-time employees is just as important as the ones for full-time employees. Here’s an excellent job description template for a sales associate from Workable.

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  • Begin your search

This is the step where discernment is key. Don’t immediately begin posting your job opening everywhere. Start cautiously by asking for referrals from your existing staff or from trusted customers and/or consignors. I say cautiously because it can be very awkward to turn down, or worse fire, the niece of your best full-time salesperson. Again, you don’t want the most people to see your ad, you want the right people. Consider where potential salespeople might be found. A children’s shop can reach out to mother’s groups. Furniture shops could contact design companies or stores that sell decorating items. Don’t forget to add your listing at a career counseling center too. Or, chat with a particularly good salesperson you meet about making the switch to your shop. How you post your job opening says a great deal about you.

  • The Interview

Treat every interview as if it was for the most important job in your company. Remember, part-time employees often do the same jobs as full timers. Spell out the duties thoroughly, including those that are particular to our industry. Do they understand the difference between consignment and resale? Have they ever worked in or shopped at a consignment or resale shop? Find out why they want a part-time job vs. a full-time job. Most importantly, will their personality get along with those you already have working for you? Consider asking behavioral questions too. Quintessential offers a number of questions to consider like, “Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).” Last, but not least, be sure to contact references and run background checks.

  • Training

Once hired, your part-time employees should be completely trained like every other staff member. This is the busiest sales time of the year and you don’t want to miss additional sales because a part-timer wasn’t taught the basics like greeting everyone with a smile and asking, “Who are you shopping for today?” Have them read The 3 stupidest questions to ask shoppers.” Make sure they understand the principle of “add-ons” and upselling. Make their schedule very clear and be as flexible with them as possible. If you need help with scheduling, consider adding online scheduling. Read How to track employee time the mobile way.

I'm a lousy part-time employeeNever stop searching for good employees. Always keep it in the back of your mind no matter where you are. My part-time holiday home decorating job turned out to be a disaster. My fingers weren’t nearly nimble enough to handle all of the intricate ornaments that went on every tree. Yup, they lost money on me due to breakage. The owner turned out to be quite reasonable although she did have to sit me down and explain, “Now look Deb, these homes have security cameras. You can’t be breaking everything and for heaven’s sake, when you do, don’t squeal like a stuck pig!” That’s when I came to Traxia!

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”  Stephen R. Covey

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.