How one of the world’s leading theme park operators hires 47,000 seasonal workers annually


Amusement Park Operations

Sandusky, Ohio


NUMBER OF Personnel:
2,300 full-time
47,000 seasonal, part-time

Applicant Tracking, Candidate Relationship Management, and Text Engagement

Cedar Fair is brilliant at making people happy –millions of people in fact. In 2018 alone, Cedar Fair entertained more than 26 million people at some of North America’s most popular amusement and water parks.

With just 2,000 full-time personnel, Cedar Fair’s success hinges on their ability to carefully and efficiently hire more than 47,000 seasonal, part-time associates in order to deliver their uniquely branded experience across 11 theme parks.

It’s a daunting challenge, made even more complex by the fact that about 90% are under the age of 30 and the majority are in high school and university.

Before partnering with iCIMS, Cedar Fair relied on a mostly manual process for recruiting –a complex web form that emailed submissions to an inbox reviewed by line Managers. Those limitations meant that Cedar Fair had no way to reengage the same hires year-over-year, a major obstacle since the company aims to rehire 35% of the previous year’s workforce. As Amy Smith, corporate talent acquisition manager, explains, “How do you possibly hire 47,000 people a year with no ATS? That’s hard to get your mind around. We knew we needed an ATS just to be normal and contemporary.”

Cedar Fair overhauled its entire recruitment programme and created a new employee value proposition to enhance its recruitment marketing ventures. Their goal was to make the application easy to get talent in the door.





Now, over 180,000 people apply to Cedar Fair every year and its talent teams are routinely hitting seasonal staffing goals. Cedar Fair has ensured success by:

  • Cutting down the number of questions on the formal application and dropping the CV requirement, reducing the time to complete by nearly 50%. The organisation’s application completion rate averages 97%.
  • Making it easier to search for and apply to jobs on a mobile device.
  • Keeping former personnel and new candidates warm throughout the off-season, and eventually get them to apply or reapply for the new season.
  • Hosting and tracking ROI to make better event strategy decisions.
  • Giving recruiters access to text candidates directly throughout the hiring process.
  • Launching text to apply campaigns across all parks with marketing materials like posters and murals. Candidates can now text “fun” to 97211 and apply directly through text.

Using iCIMS to hit organisational KPIs

To ensure its parks open fully staffed, Cedar Fair adheres to four key hiring KPIs. The first is ensuring its parks are staffed before opening days –with benchmarks set at 60 days and 30 days. Their team also tracks against maintaining a 7-day time to offer, meaning candidates apply and are hired within 7 business days. Because Cedar Fair sees significant new hires “ghost” their first day of work, their recruiters work to ensure that 90% of all candidates are onboarded and show up for their first day of work. Lastly, Cedar Fair aims to have 35% of their seasonal hires return year over year.

However, keeping younger workers interested during the gap between when they were hired and their first day of work is a challenge When a candidate is hired for a seasonal position, Cedar Fair uses iCIMS’ Candidate Relationship Management to nurture that new hire –with emails touching on everything from news at its parks to a to-do list. They monitor each new employee’s engagement with their emails, and if they notice a drop off, recruiters use iCIMS to follow-up with text messages. As Smith explains, “If they start to disengage, we’re going to recognise it and can do more to keep them from not showing up.”

“We needed recruiting technology that would modernise our approach to hiring a high-volume seasonal workforce. With iCIMS, we’ve created efficiencies and improved candidate experience –which is hugely important in today’s competitive labour market.”

Craig Heckman,
SVP, HR, Cedar Fair