Written by Chris Russell
13th May, 2021
Best Practices for Retail Hiring
It’s hard to be a retail employer today and get enough applicants to fill your shifts. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on recruiting for retail establishments as people remain hunkered down, bolstered by federally backed unemployment benefits or other personal reasons.
We are seeing a lot of creativity when it comes to attracting new workers. Some businesses are offering signing bonuses (anywhere from $100 to $2,000) while some tout free food or other perks.
But let’s take a look at some core recruitment ideas that your retail locations can use on an everyday basis to attract talent.
Making it as easily as possible to apply is table stakes in retail recruiting. If you can’t apply by sending an email or form capture or apply by text, you are creating barriers for potential jobs seekers. Some retail seekers may not even own a computer so your website needs to be mobile friendly and offer a way for them to apply over their phone or through a social network like Facebook. By posting a job in their job marketplace people apply using the information on their profile thus making it super simple.
Getting people to apply is a numbers game. The average Career Site Visitor to Apply rate is around 5% for mobile candidates (Source: Appcast). That means only 1 in 20 visits to your listing will apply. You’d better have a smooth application process that is short and sweet.
Hire for Attitude
There’s an old saying in recruiting, hire for attitude, train for skill. Look to hire people outside retail like in places such as warehouses or call centers. Any candidate with the proper character traits can be trained. So be sure to also focus your job ads in no traditional places to target talent.
Offer Flexible Schedules
Retail employees often demand that their job fit around their schedule. Oftentimes these folks are in school, have a second job or have family responsibilities they need to take care of. As an employer you have an obligation to do your best to offer them flexible shifts that fit within their schedule. One retailer I know of uses an app system where workers can claim the shifts they want to work.
When advertising your jobs be clear about the weekly schedule such as the need to work nights or weekends. Hiring people who want to work days you aren’t that busy can quickly lead to turnover.
Be Digital Savvy
While working for you today’s workers love to see employers who are digital savvy and offer a great employee experience. This could mean things such as having direct deposit vs physical checks, mobile app based time cards and being able to onboard using their phone. Upgrade your HR technology stack to ensure paperwork isn’t a burden and allow employees to communicate with their managers over texting and app based messaging.
Programmatic Job Advertising
There are a number of platforms such as Appcast, PandoLogic and JobAdx that allow you to advertise your job openings across multiple job boards such as Indeed, Ziprecruiter, etc and you only pay per click for these visitors. Programmatic tends to save you money while advertising your job to the widest possible audience. Just give them a budget and let them work their magic.
TikTok is now testing a recruiting platform with video resumes. Recruit where the audience is. On Facebook for example there are thousands of local job search groups for nearly every city and state. These groups are “mini job boards” that offer free ways to promote your openings. Use them daily to spread the word.
Having an active social recruiting strategy across facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok will go a long ways towards ensuring a better applicant flow.
Incentive your existing staff with money and prizes to refer their friends. Gamify it to help generate competition among staff members with a leaderboard. Leverage your customers too! Advertise positions in store, and on your receipts and bags. You never know when one of them will want a job at a store they frequent.
Also don’t be afraid to reach out to past employees. These alumni may make for a good hire since they already know you. Studies show that 20%-25% of employees do return because of discontentment with current position, so keep tabs on your ex-employees just in case.