What Is a Hiring Surge?

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Posted by: David Garcia January 23, 2023

Businesses that don’t prepare adequately for a hiring surge could face many challenging situations. When an organization suddenly needs to hire a large number of people, it may be too late for recruitment. Lack of contingency plans could have wide-ranging impacts, including a labor shortage, an overstretched workforce, and even profit loss.

Hiring surges are not always predictable, but companies can anticipate them by knowing seasonal and consumer trends. Understanding the impact of other external factors like natural disasters and market conditions is also critical to a contingency plan.

Businesses can plan for and meet the demands of hiring surges in several ways. Here, we cover what hiring surges are, the factors that could lead to one, and how your business can prepare to ensure smooth operations as you add more staff.

What Is a Hiring Surge?

A hiring surge occurs when a business must rapidly recruit a large number of new employees to meet increased demands due to factors like seasonal trends, unexpected sales growth, or company expansion. Typically, the urgent recruitment effort aims to quickly fill roles to sustain short-term needs or support long-term growth.

Most companies have an established recruitment protocol. However, sometimes, due to the exigencies of the business or an external or third-party event, there can be an urgent need to hire more staff outside the usual recruitment processes.

Why Would a Company Find Itself in Need of a Hiring Surge?

Various events or factors can trigger a hiring surge, some of which may be predictable to the business or organization, others not so.


Many businesses experience seasonal surges as they work through the twelve-month calendar. Often these surges are predictable, and previous years’ data can help plan for recruitment and accurate staff hire.

An airline knows that the summer holidays will significantly increase bookings, and there may be higher-demand travel times like Christmas and New Year.

A florist knows that Valentine’s Day will see a significant demand for bouquets and flowers, particularly roses. They can prepare by understanding ‘the economics of the red rose’ — just as retailers can expect to do a lot of business in the run-up to Christmas.

Seasonal hiring surges tend to follow trends within the industry. Companies will increase their recruitment at these times to meet the increase in demand.

Unexpected Sales Growth

Forecasting company growth is an art and a science and should be driven by an established and cohesive marketing strategy. However, exponential sales growth can sometimes come along unexpectedly.

During the global pandemic, pharmaceutical companies had to staff up to meet the demand to create and supply a new vaccine. Other companies manufacturing personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, or toilet paper also saw demand skyrocketing due to panic buying—and with it, the need to hire more workers. Laboratories and testing facilities handled vast volumes of Covid tests and needed to create a quick way of delivering results.

However, not all conditions leading to hiring surges are adverse. But regardless of what creates the labor demand, a company needs to have sufficient preparation and planning to anticipate the need for high-volume recruiting in a short window of time.

Company Expansion and Staff Forecasting

Maintaining the right level of staff to service the company and meet demand while maximizing profit is a carefully calculated equation and relies on accurate growth data.

Usually, organizations can anticipate a planned expansion and produce a recruitment strategy to support it. Still, it can be tricky for a company to enter new territory and get the staffing numbers right.

Most recruitment strategies tend to under-forecast rather than over-forecast staffing requirements to protect profits. If the new expansion is more successful than the data suggested, there can be a staff shortage, leading to a hiring surge.

New Funding

Sometimes, new funding can lead to a sudden demand for more employees. This situation is common with startups but can also affect more established businesses.

Companies that receive increased or substantial funds will often need to meet various requirements from the investor. Whether it’s increasing output to achieve a set deadline or expanding manufacturing to respond to a rise in investment and demand, these situations require more workers and a robust recruitment process.

Third-Party Drivers or External Events

Businesses that provide frontline or emergency services may need to staff up quickly. Bad weather events, large-scale disasters, or significant accidents may require more staff.

There can also be a knock-on effect further down the chain. A bad weather event will increase the demand for insurance adjusters, builders, and construction workers to make repairs. These events and their aftermath can be a time for some companies to profit.

Some events are unforeseen, like the Covid-19 pandemic. It increased the demand for staff in disease testing facilities, researchers in pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccine, and hospital care staff.

Whether expected or unexpected, an organization can prepare for a hiring surge and ensure business operations continue smoothly without impacting the existing workforce or hurting the bottom line.

How To Prepare for a Hiring Surge

Preparing for a hiring surge may be manageable when it is a regular or annual event, but you can plan even for something that occurs without much warning.

It is good protocol to have a readymade surge hire plan for such occasions. Here are some suggestions to prepare for a hiring surge. Consider the following and adapt them to your organization’s specific needs and industry.

Hire Contractors

Hiring contractors solves the problem of taking on permanent staff who may not have a permanent role once the surge has peaked. Temporary contractors are only employed for the duration of the surge or project and may help handle the peak without adding long-term employees to the payroll.

But hiring contractors or temporary workers can also be a time-consuming process. The recruitment process puts strain on the human resources department. Most companies use a specialist recruitment agency to expedite this process.

Staffing Agencies

The simplest way to cover a hiring surge is to use a recruitment agency. Reputable agencies have quick and established protocols for finding suitable candidates and often undertake all the necessary background checking and suitability assessments.

Crucially, these candidates are usually employees of the agency rather than the company, which avoids all the extra hassle of staff contracts and long-term employment commitments.

Most agencies have a pool of people they can call on to fill roles at short notice, many of whom are only looking for short-term and temporary work.

Third-party recruiting is much quicker and more effective than a company trying to advertise for new temporary staff. However, if the intent is to keep the new hires long-term, staffing agencies may be unable to make informed decisions regarding candidates’ fit for the company culture.

Increase Internal Recruitment Team

If the hiring surge is expected to be long-lasting, an organization can increase its internal recruitment team to hire new workers.

The drawbacks to this are that it may pull resources from other departments. It can be a viable solution, but the organization must monitor its labor and workload distribution.


Hiring surges are a fact of life for some organizations but can be something of a surprise for others. Company procedures can help anticipate and manage hiring surges so that the demand doesn’t hurt the existing workforce, consumer expectations, or service/product quality.

Are you preparing for a hiring surge? ScoutLogic is ready to help with our rigorous and comprehensive background check services, including mass volume candidate vetting, criminal history, and more. Contact us today to get set up with your very own Scout.

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