Imagine, if you will, a typical video call between an executive recruiter named Holly and a potential candidate. But this time, things are a little different than your average call…
HOLLY: Wow! I can’t believe I’m talking to the Santa Claus! I’m Holly, and I specialize in finding the perfect roles for exceptional candidates like you.
SANTA CLAUS: Ho, Ho, Ho! Nice to meet you, too, Holly. What a festive name! So, what can I do for you?
HOLLY: Well, Santa, I’m working with a team that’s looking to fill some mall Santa roles – you know, spread a little holiday cheer, and I thought you might be the perfect man for the job!
SANTA: That’s very kind of you, but I already have a job.
HOLLY: Of course, I saw your LinkedIn – impressive work with toy distribution and global logistics, by the way. I specialize in passive recruitment – I work with companies to connect with the very best talent, even if they’re not actively looking for a new job. Sometimes, the right offer at the right time can make people interested in a change of scenery! I was thinking you might want to spend a little more time at the beach, for example.
SANTA: Hmm… the beach sounds very intriguing. But my passion is in spreading holiday cheer! What do you have in mind?
HOLLY: That’s perfect, Santa. I have a great opportunity at our local mall right here in Sarasota, Florida, which has the top-ranked beach in North America! They’re looking for a Santa who can bring the Christmas spirit to life. And who better than the man himself?
SANTA: I do have a bit of experience in that area. The beach is a bonus. And it would be nice to get out and about – not that the elves aren’t great coworkers, but it’s nice to meet new people!
HOLLY: Plus, the mall has a top-notch cookie stand. I hear their gingerbread is almost as good as Mrs. Claus’s.
SANTA: Well, when you throw gingerbread into the mix… how can I resist?
HOLLY: Fantastic! I’ll send over more details to the North Pole so you can make your decision. And Santa, thank you for considering this; you always make the holiday season magical.
Santa making an appearance at the mall, holiday party, or your Christmas special event is a time-honored tradition. If your job is anything like Holly’s, you recognize that passive recruitment can make a big difference in tracking down the right pros to pull off the all-important role. You also appreciate that aligning the candidate’s needs with what the job offers is a major selling point that gets the close. In Santa’s case, it was about his passion for the work (and the nearby beach and gingerbread cookies didn’t hurt any!).
Without the right job appeal, we could be right back in a Santa shortage. In 2022, Mitch Allen, the founder and “head elf” of HireSanta.com, told Entrepreneur that there were around 20 open roles in their database for every single “Santa” available, with approximately 2,250 open positions and counting. Demand for Santas had risen 30% year over year! While the acute situation has eased in 2023, it’s a great reminder of how quickly a job shortage can affect any job.
Today’s Santas make a national average of $27 to $30 per hour, according to research from ZipRecruiter and Salary.com. Since being a Santa isn’t a year-round gig, the employee value proposition has to be a little more creative than your typical job; things like health benefits, retirement, and career development aren’t as much of a factor. A competitive salary is a must for any seasonal worker, especially given the stressful and public-facing nature of the job (not to mention if you’re Santa, a few tugs on the facial hair every so often). Additionally, offerings like flexible scheduling and strong support (i.e., well-staffed support roles to ensure Santa’s safety and comfort) can make the prospect of putting on the big red suit much more appealing.
Whether hiring a Santa or your next corporate leader, placing an ad doesn’t always guarantee you the right candidate – or any qualified candidate, in some cases. Great candidates aren’t always looking, and it can be hard to locate potential talent when they’re not the ones actively checking job postings. Sometimes, those “passive” candidates can be activated when they can talk to someone who knows how to position the potential opportunity. After all, money isn’t always the only concern – many workers, especially today, need a clear reason to change jobs or accept a position, even a temporary one like a Santa gig.
Finding someone who fits the position but also fits the salary range can be a challenge. That’s where expert recruiting teams come in. Professional recruiting firms typically have access to resources and candidate pools that most companies don’t have on their own. Plus, since their entire business is recruiting, these firms are more adept at finding rare talent to fit even the most unusual of roles – yes, including Santa Claus.
If you’re on the nice list, Blue Rock Search is here to answer all your executive recruiting needs. With practices in HR & Diversity, Private Equity, Franchise, Higher Education, and Customer Experience our team brings decades of specific, high-level recruiting expertise to find solutions to even your most challenging searches. We might not be Santa’s elves, but we definitely have our own brand of recruiting magic—Relationships Built to Last!
By Ruben Moreno
About the Author
After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.” Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR & Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.