Guide to Estate Sale Jobs and Employment

By Pascale Saliba

Liquidators have a daunting task filling estate sale jobs.  Employment in the estate sale industry differs from other retail or service industries for many reasons.

Across the country, there are hundreds of estate sale companies.  They are generally family-owned and operated by the owners themselves.

Many owners would rather handle the various estate sale jobs themselves instead of relying on outside help.

Companies also rely on family members, friends, and people they’ve met in their community to help them during the estate sale process.

If you don’t have the luxury of relying on friends and family here are some things to consider in order to find good estate sale employees.

How Estate Sale Jobs Differ?

Unlike other industries, online job forums aren’t quite a good resource for estate sale employees.  You have to begin by defining exactly what you’re looking for.

The majority of people in the public do not have estate sale experience.

Training employees is costly and time-consuming, so you’ll want the employee to become a long-term employee once you’ve invested in their training, but can you afford to keep them on?

This all depends on how many estate sales you hold on a monthly basis.

Traits To Seek

Possibly one of the most important traits to look for is the trustworthiness.

This is very difficult to determine immediately yet it’s one of the most important traits you need in the estate sale business.

As a professional estate liquidator, you are trusted with people’s personal possessions, from coin collections to estate jewelry, and cash paid by shoppers.

An untrustworthy employee can be costly, and we’re not only talking financially, but they can also cost a company its reputation.

To Hire or Not to Hire?

If you’ve never set up someone’s home for an estate sale before, you need to know that the task is labor-intensive, emotionally and physically draining.

The business owner is often involved in the process of finding clients and signing the estate sale contract.

It’s rare to find hired help doing this task, and it’s possibly best because in a personal business such as estate sales, only you as the owner can represent it well.

Common Estate Sale Positions

  • Inventory
  • Staging
  • Item Research
  • Pricing
  • Advertising
  • Selling
  • Customer Service

Inventory and Staging

Inventory and staging will require a certain level of organizational skills.

Sure you can train a person to stage, but if they don’t naturally have some organizational skills, you’ll find that time is wasted, and the process is more costly for you and the client.

Research and Pricing

This position will require some technical skills if you find an excellent employee but they are not technically inclined, or know how to research prices online, it can hinder your process and affect your bottom line.

A balance of efficiency and quality is extremely important.


When looking for estate sale employees, if they are computer savvy, experienced in social media and have good communication skills, you’re in luck!

Estate sales rely heavily on advertising in order to gain visibility in their local areas.

Advertising your estate sales and services is key to getting more estate sale leads and shoppers to the sales.

Selling and Customer Service

You’ve heard it a thousand times, “Happy shoppers buy more!”  It’s true, having a helpful, friendly staff during the estate sale is very important, having estate sale employees that are customer service savvy during the sales, will increase the bottom line for you and your clients.

Proper Employee Placement

Successful estate sale companies will tell you, placing an employee in the right position is one of the best things you can do for your company.

You must be able to recognize what each person is good at and put them in the position they are best at.

Even if you’re an established company with existing employees, reviewing your current positions is a good idea.

By really paying attention to what each person does, and how good they are at certain tasks, you’re able to adjust and move employees around until you are satisfied with the efficiency and results.

Setting up an estate sale takes muscle also.  Moving furniture around and carrying things out for shoppers require heavy lifting.

Estate sale jobs can be labor-intensive, so it’s important to have someone in a position that can handle such heavy lifting and labor heavy tasks.

Estate Sale Employment Procedures

Every business has procedures, they can be simple or complex, but there must be employment procedures in place in order to understand what is required.

This may sound difficult for some companies, especially if you’re a family-owned and operated business “husband & wife” team or have your children working for you, but it’s well worth your time.

Having written procedures in place will help you fill the positions quickly if you ever need to find help.

How to Fill Estate Sale Jobs

Now that we’ve talked about the common estate sale jobs in the industry, how does someone go about finding the right employee?

There are some decisions you’ll need to make, and these decisions are solely based on your particular situation, local jurisdiction, and labor laws within your state.

First, you’ll need to decide whether you’re looking for a full time, part-time or seasonal help.

Full-Time Estate Sale Jobs

Hiring a full-time employee is difficult for many small businesses especially in the estate sale industry.

It’s difficult to sustain the payroll costs if the company isn’t holding a sale on a regular basis to offset the costs of having a full-time employee.

A full-time employee may prove to be a good choice if the employee is experienced in multi-disciplines.

If they’re great at marketing with excellent communication skills to handle the estate sale business side and help you with sales, you may be able to keep them busy enough to afford them.

Part-Time Estate Sale Employment

This is quite common; many companies will only hire people on a part-time basis.  They may choose to do the setup themselves and only hire part-time help on the days of the sale.

Having enough employees during sales is extremely important.

Whether you choose to have more employees for estate sale security purposes or to help shoppers during the sale, it’s important that there are enough employees during the sale to have a successful outcome.

Seasonal Estate Sale Jobs

As a family-owned business, your entire family may be able to participate in your business certain months out of the year.

If one of them is a college student and only available during the summer months, you may need to hire a seasonal estate sale employee during the fall and winter months.

This is quite difficult to maintain because you’ll always find yourself looking for someone new that you’ll have to invest time in.

A seasonal employee isn’t going to sit around waiting for you to employ them during the off-season unless you’ve found the perfect retired person that’s not looking to work during the summer months at all.

Employees and Liability

Liability in the estate sale industry is a big topic.  Professional estate sale companies hold a liability insurance policy to protect them and their clients.

What happens if one of your employees gets injured on the job?  This brings us to whether estate sale employees should be paid as independent contractors or W2 employees.

1099 Contractor vs. W2 Employee

Which is better for your estate sale business? There are some major differences between these types of workers, you could face penalties from the IRS if you don’t classify them properly.

To do this right and protect yourself, it’s best to consult with an employment attorney.

Besides legal issues, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both.  You want to make the right choice for your estate sale business.

Both independent contractors and W2 employees provide a vital service to your estate sale business but here are the most important differences between the two.

Estate Sale Independent Contractor

A 1099 worker is an independent contractor that provides a specific service you contracted them for.

An estate cleanout person can be considered a contractor.  They are like a self-employed person that determines when and how they work, use their own tools and provide a service based on the contract between you and them.

A clean-out company should hold its own liability insurance policy, protecting you and the client if something happens.

W2 Estate Sale Employees

When you hire a W2 employee, you do it with the intention of working with them for an undetermined length of time, unlike a contractor where you renew the time.

Both a W2 employee or a 1099 worker can be beneficial to your estate sale business, you will have to determine what best fits your needs and budget.

If you decide to have 1099 estate sale workers, make sure you have a written contract between you and them, you will also want to make sure they hold their own liability insurance policy.

As stated earlier, liability during an estate sale runs high, protecting your business, and your clients are extremely important.

If an injury happens to one of your workers during the estate sale, you could be held liable.

If your contracted employee holds their own liability insurance policy, this will protect you from any unforeseen issues relating to employment laws and regulations.

Non-Compete Agreement

This agreement is a contract between an employer and an employee.

The employee agrees not to compete with or work for competitors of the employer for a certain amount of time after their employment ends.

The rules for a non-compete agreement are different in each state, the rules vary in defining when and to what extent the agreement is enforceable.

If the person you hire is truly an independent contractor, a non-compete agreement is not generally enforceable.

A general contractor’s relationship with your company is more limited than that of an employee with his/her employer.

An independent contractor is in business for themselves, the service they provide you is their business or livelihood.

Protecting Your Business

If you have business interests you want to protect, a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement is generally sufficient with contractors.

Proper Employment classification

If someone is an important part of your business, it’s best to hire them as a W2 employee.

Asking an independent contractor to sign a non-compete can put your company at risk.

The risks can involve penalties, owing them overtime pay, workers compensation, and unemployment benefits.

Finding Estate Sale Workers?

If you’re looking for a full-time employee, finding one could be easy. Finding a seasonal or part-time worker proves more difficult.

Besides friends and family, companies often turn shoppers into workers.  Always make sure your employee has your company’s best interest and not theirs.

If your worker is in the house simply to get their hands on stuff that could cause an issue for you with clients and other shoppers.

“Many people say they would love to help, and estate sales look like fun.  If done right, estate sales are hard work.  Many people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes.” Said Stacie Boerger with Best Estate Sales By Boerger.

She continued.  “If you’re going to hire from the public, there are a few things to look for in a potential worker:

  • They need to work hard
  • They need to get their hands dirty
  • Must be Reliable
  • Trustworthy
  • Presentable
  • Easily adapt and multi-task
  • Efficient and follows instructions

“It is extremely important to find someone who’s main focus isn’t the stuff in the house but the job itself.” Said Boerger

In Summary

Whether you’re starting an estate sale business, or have been in business for years and you need workers, finding good, loyal, trustworthy, workers is not an easy task.

Many companies will run drug testing and background checks on workers they hire.

A background check gives you and your clients the peace of mind you need to operate successfully. is more than a listing site, we are your source for valuable information relating to the estate sale industry, a source for estate sale advertising, generating estate sale leads and we also provide you with an auction platform to sell items online.

Whether you’re just starting or have held sales, join our private Facebook group dedicated to industry professionals.