Recruitment Process in Retail Industry

Retail Recruitment Process

Finding the right talent for retail roles is rarely simple. All manner of factors make retail recruitment a headache for hiring teams. For most businesses, there’s an annual scramble to fill short-term seasonal roles. What’s more, high-end retailers can struggle to find skilled sales associated with sufficient product knowledge. As the retail sector is customer-oriented, candidates also need to possess excellent communication skills to deliver first-rate customer experiences.

The industry is also very competitive. With so many retailers out there, securing candidates for entry-level positions can prove almost impossible at short notice. Competitive rates of pay can help, but you’ll probably need to rethink your retail recruitment strategy to give your business an edge over the competition.

What is retail recruitment?

Retail recruitment is exactly what it sounds like. Anytime a retail position becomes available, companies will need to undertake a new round of recruitment to find suitable talent. Most retail roles are store-based and entry-level, with sales associate jobs representing the vast majority of vacancies. However, there are always opportunities for more experienced retail workers and those looking for their next managerial role.

Retail recruitment utilises most of the same channels as other hiring processes. Company career pages, job boards, and social media can all be used to find talent to match to open positions. While candidate skills and experience are important, the customer-facing nature of retail means that personality traits and communication skills are also crucial.

What are the main retail recruitment challenges?

There’s a misconception that retail recruitment is easy. However, alongside the usual hiring challenges, retail recruiters face unique obstacles not found in other industries. Below are some of the biggest issues you’ll face when sourcing talent for retail roles.

Seasonal staffing and high employee turnover rates

Do you struggle to retain staff? You’re not alone. The retail industry has one of the highest employee turnover rates of any sector. In 2023, staff turnover soared to a rate of more than 50%, while the overall number of people working in retail dropped to a 14-year low.

It’s not hard to see why so many people leave retail positions for other industries. Poor rates of pay and less-than-desirable working conditions make a typical retail position a last resort, rather than a dream career move. Seasonal staffing also comes into play, with the number of open positions soaring ahead of the Christmas period. As well as contributing to turnover rates, tight time-to-hire constraints increase the odds of bad hiring decisions.

Most retailers accept the pressures of seasonal staffing, but a high turnover rate combined with an ever-declining talent pool is making retail recruitment more challenging than ever. The time and effort involved in replacing retail employees takes its toll on hiring teams. What’s more, the high cost of turnover can spell doom for a retail business already struggling to make a profit.

Top talent is hard to find

Finding someone to fill a vacant retail role used to be simple. However, with more people leaving the sector than ever before, even lucrative salaries and generous benefits aren’t enough to entice qualified candidates. Entry-level roles remain relatively easy to recruit for, but sourcing high-quality talent is a different matter entirely.

Whether you’re looking to hire a senior shift supervisor or replace an outgoing store manager, finding someone with sufficient experience can prove challenging. The retail job market is saturated with vacant opportunities, meaning every retail business within a five-mile radius is going to be scrambling to recruit the most desirable candidates.

Technology isn’t being properly utilised

With the right HR tools and technology, you can significantly streamline your hiring efforts. However, recruitment tech remains fairly underutilised within the retail sector. While an established retailer might make use of applicant tracking systems and automated retail recruitment processes, only a fraction of small to medium-sized businesses do.

Even when staffing demands are low, recruitment software can be massively beneficial to retail recruitment efforts. Applicant tracking systems can sift through CVs and help with pre-screening, while assessment tools can be used to evaluate applicants for more senior positions. They also let you create ever-expanding talent pools. If you’re dreading the busy season and the high-volume hiring that comes with it, these candidate databases are a godsend.

More retailers are shifting to online-only models

More people than ever before are shopping exclusively over the internet. In the UK, around 80% of consumers make purchases online. It’s no wonder that so many retailers have ditched brick-and-mortar stores in favour of an online-only model. However, this has only brought fresh recruitment challenges for retail businesses.

While an online retailer doesn’t have to worry about hiring team members to man the shop floor, roles with massively different skill sets now need to be filled. Firstly, there’s the legion of warehouse operatives needed to staff distribution centres. Then there are all those newly-created digital roles to consider. Retail businesses may struggle to secure an experienced web developer when there are far better opportunities available in the tech sector.

Retail recruitment

Retail recruitment process steps and strategies

Does your current retail recruitment strategy need some fine-tuning? If you’re failing to find suitable candidates or struggling to retain quality candidates beyond the 12-month mark, a quick rethink of your process may be all that’s needed.

Think about your hiring needs

If you want to find the best person for a position, you need to have a firm grasp of what the role actually entails. Is it a brand-new role you’re looking to fill? Perhaps you’re recruiting to replace an outgoing employee. What kind of experience level is required? Is it a permanent appointment, or a short-term solution to cope with seasonal staffing demands? You’ll need to answer all of these questions before moving on to the next step.

Tempt the best talent with quality job descriptions

Now that you’ve identified the role and outlined some basic requirements, you can focus on creating compelling job descriptions. You’ll want to invest plenty of time and energy into writing these if you stand any chance of ensnaring the best possible candidates.

With a great job description, there’s no room for misunderstandings. What’s more, it’s your first opportunity to showcase your company culture, avoiding any personality clashes down the line. Ideal if you’ve got a problem with applicant drop-off rate or first-year churn.

When writing job descriptions, make sure you’re covering all bases. Include a job title that actually makes sense and is relevant to the role itself. You’ll also need to include a full summary of desirable experience and required skills, along with a clear outline of day-to-day responsibilities. Even if there’s room for negotiation, you’ll also need to include a full roundup of pay, benefits, and any employee perks.

Use the right recruitment channels

To increase the odds of landing talent quickly, cast the net wide when recruiting. You’ll want to explore as many hiring avenues as possible if you’re dealing with a seasonal staffing emergency. Using recruitment software with job board integrations can help while turning to social media can also help you connect with more job seekers.

Are you trying to fill a specialist role? The usual online job marketplaces are pretty saturated. If you’re a less established business with a salary offer that’s not particularly competitive, your posting may struggle to stand out. Try targeting platforms catering to specific professions and industries instead.

Make sure you’re using reliable software

The most important element of recruitment software is a robust applicant tracking system (ATS). With an ATS, it’s far easier to hire en masse, while you can create useful talent pools to help with future recruitment drives. As well as streamlining the hiring process, an ATS lets you automate actions that would otherwise be assigned to HR teams.

Is your interview process up to scratch?

With candidates pre-screened and a shortlist selected, you can start interviewing. If you want to add another level of screening, use questionnaires to sift out any remaining undesirable candidates.

When it comes to meeting candidates, decide whether you want to hold face-to-face interviews or remote ones. Virtual video interviews can save time, but you’ll need to put a little bit of effort into creating pre-recorded content. Once done, however, they become an invaluable recruiting asset.

Final candidate selection

Think you’ve found the perfect candidate? Don’t waste any time in offering them the role. The longer you leave it, the more likely it is they’ll be snapped up by a competitor. If they accept the role, make sure you’re focused on retaining them. First-year turnover is a common problem for retail businesses. Rethinking your onboarding process and offering avenues for development will increase the odds of a quality hire sticking around.

Did a potential candidate just miss the mark? Rather than cut ties forever, think of them as a future hiring prospect. They might be the ideal fit for a role that’s currently occupied or a position that’s yet to be created. If you’ve prioritised candidate experience and left a positive impression on applicants, it’s going to be easier to engage with them down the line.

Recruitment in retail

Best tools for retail recruitment

Whether you’re looking to hire for a single role or find an entire team to staff a new location, you can simplify the recruitment process by using the right tools and integrations. Below are some of the most useful HR and hiring tools every retail recruiter should be using.

Job boards

There’s no point in creating a compelling job description if nobody’s going to see it. Use every job board available to you if you want to connect with as many job seekers as possible. Choose software with job board integrations to lighten the load for your HR teams.

Social media channels

More people than ever before are searching for new opportunities on their mobile devices. A significant proportion of these are using social media to hunt down new career prospects. Make sure these job seekers aren’t being missed by sharing your job ads on social media platforms like Facebook.

Collaboration tools

With a larger hiring team, it’s easy for things to get lost in translation. With collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, hiring managers, recruiters, and other stakeholders can readily share information about candidates. What’s more, everyone’s kept up-to-date about the latest developments.

Video conferencing solutions

Are you looking to introduce live or asynchronous video interviews to your hiring process? Make sure you’re using a reliable video conferencing solution. Make sure you’re weighing up the pros and cons of each if you want to bring in interactive elements or are keen to gamify the experience to increase engagement.

Admin automation tools

Even with a full-featured applicant tracking system, manual tasks can really slow your HR team down during busy recruitment periods. Use recruitment automation tools to speed things up as much as possible. Email triggers keep successful candidates in the loop, while you can create template messages for application rejections, invites for interviews, and more.

Refine your retail recruitment strategy with Teamdash

Recruiting for retail roles is far from simple. Seasonal staffing can prove a nightmare for hiring teams, while a constantly shrinking talent tool can make it difficult to recruit for even a single role. There’s not much you can do to combat the downward trend in people looking for retail work, but you can streamline your recruitment strategy to stand out from the competition.

With recruitment software solutions like Teammdash, you can give your organisation the edge. With Teamdash, it’s easy to discover top talent. Create engaging job descriptions and use job board and social integrations to connect with candidates. You can also enrich the screening process with custom application questions, improving quality of hire and enhancing candidate experience.

A full-featured applicant tracking system means you can monitor progress at all times, while there’s plenty of scope for automation. If you’ve made any major changes to your recruitment strategy, a user-friendly dashboard provides you instant insights into the most important metrics. With these analytics in hand, it’s easy to see what’s working and identify room for improvement.

Ready to rise to the next retail recruitment challenge? Why not book a Teamdash demo today?

Marie Evart

Co-founder & Community Manager

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