Retail hiring is a significant challenge in today's market. From the rapid expansion of e-commerce to evolving customer demands to fluctuations in interest rates, the retail industry is constantly changing, and talent acquisition teams that support these businesses need an array of tools and resources to overcome the challenge.
In 2022, retail demand resulted in more than 7,800 new store openings. As demand for retail products and services is forecasted to grow again in 2023, retailers must continually evaluate and adjust their recruitment strategies to match their changing needs.
The Unique Challenge of Retail Recruitment
Retail hiring challenges are real, and no retailer – from boutique cosmetics to pet supplies, to auto repair parts or big box stores – is exempt from these hurdles. A recent KornFerry survey of large retailers revealed that 94% said they had difficulty filling open positions.
Not only must retail recruitment professionals compete with other retailers, but also with employers in other sectors that hire hourly employees. Hiring professionals also need to factor in the candidate ghosting phenomenon, with 84% of job seekers saying they’ve ghosted a potential employer in the last 18 months. Many companies have faced issues when hiring for a new store location, only for the talent to never show up.
McKinsey research has found that the attrition rate among retail employees is 70% higher than in other sectors, resulting in an industry turnover rate that often exceeds 60% each year.
Given the challenges of hiring and retaining talent, retailers must adopt modern recruitment strategies that employ innovative solutions for attracting quality candidates.
Key Strategies to Boost Retail Recruitment
In the highly competitive world of retail, implementing specific yet adaptable recruitment strategies can help increase a company’s chances of attracting, hiring, and keeping the best candidates for the job.
Here are three key actions that can help retail recruiting professionals overcome hiring challenges and compete for talent more effectively.
1. Audit and Update Current Recruitment Strategies
Given the ever-changing nature of retail, the recruitment strategies that were once successful may no longer yield the candidate quality and quantity necessary to meet operational goals.
Retail talent acquisition teams should conduct an annual audit of their recruitment practices. This audit can help recruiting staff understand current practices across the organization and can also uncover unknown bottlenecks – so companies can make adjustments in any of the following areas:
- Shorten the application process: Make the application shorter to prioritize the candidate experience during every stage of the hiring process. 73% of candidates abandon an application if the process takes too long. Move anything that can be shifted to after the hire, so hiring professionals can get to the offer stage quicker.
- Job titles and descriptions: These help highlight everything candidates need to know to succeed and the benefits they will receive. This is a great place to highlight the employee value proposition (EVP) as well.
- The EVP: Ensure all marketing materials showcase what is offered to and expected of prospective employees.
Tip: Attracting candidates that fit the open positions in each retail location is critical. Recruitics offers targeted job advertising solutions that present job ads to a defined candidate audience where they live and interact online.
2. Optimize Process Through Recruitment Technology
In today's fast-paced and tech-driven world, relying on outdated recruitment processes can put a company at a serious disadvantage. By embracing new and innovative technologies, hiring professionals can streamline their hiring process, attract top talent, and meet hiring goals. When considering implementing new recruitment technology, consider the following:
- Evaluate tech needs: There are so many technology platforms to help streamline the end-to-end recruitment process, and some employers might not even be aware of all the opportunities in the market. This is why it’s essential to know what the hiring goals are and those parts of the process that cause the most disruption.
- Scope out opportunities, platforms, and providers: When changing, updating, or adding technology, hiring professionals never know what might help accelerate the recruitment experience. Be open-minded and ensure talent professionals review platforms fully.
- Working within realistic budgets: Recruitment teams must learn to work within their allocated budget, utilizing cost-efficient strategies and tools to source, attract, and hire top talent. This ensures that their spending is optimized for maximum return on investment (ROI).
- Working with IT: There are so many platforms and providers retail companies work with. The more a company has, the more integrations will be needed – and the more complex the process becomes. Ensure recruitment teams sync with IT to ensure platforms can be integrated seamlessly and go online without delays.
3. Adjust Recruiting Activities to Match Talent Supply and Demand
At any given time, the number of open positions may not align with the talent supply. To elaborate, the supply and demand will be different for every city and market, making each competitive landscape unique. Companies need to create a market-level approach, since labor supply and demand varies by location. Retail companies need to implement different tactics to accommodate the reality of talent in their market.
Attracting the Best Candidates When Talent is Plentiful
Sometimes candidate supply outpaces demand. While it’s certainly better than fighting for a limited number of candidates, this scenario requires recruiters to implement strategies that help them operate a fast and efficient application and hiring process.
- Easy apply: Implementing “easy-apply” options allows employers to reduce as much friction as possible in the hiring process. This is especially important for hourly workers, since they are less likely to want to take a lot of time to fill out an application.
- Referral programs: It’s also beneficial to look within the organization to promote employees or implement a referral program so teammates can recommend like-minded people. The fact that 82% of employees consider employee referrals to be the most effective sourcing option for generating the best ROI emphasizes the significant impact of referral programs. It allows employees to grow in the organization, and the company can grow their talent pool with top candidates.
- Automated candidate pre-screening: Allows retailers to select “the cream of the crop” and be highly responsive to interested candidates from the moment they apply.
Tip: Larger retail organizations often need to hire hundreds or thousands of employees nationwide, particularly during peak holiday seasons. Recruitics’ Automated Marketing Platform (AMP) helps employers achieve hiring needs by scaling job ads to match labor supply and hiring demand.
Competing for Candidates When They’re in Short Supply
More often than not, there are more open retail positions than there are candidates to fill them. Since retailers can’t serve customers well with half-full shifts, it remains critical to use creative strategies to attract applicants and keep them engaged from the first interaction with the company all the way to hire.
- Revitalized employer branding: According to LinkedIn, firms that invest in employer branding cut their hiring costs by 50%. Use recruitment videos and social media storytelling to help potential candidates see the company as a great place to work.
- Targeted candidate advertising: Explore job advertising vehicles such as cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-action (CPA) marketing, which can help to drive targeted candidates to job opportunities while also helping to effectively manage recruiting ROI. Also, expand the media beyond the top-tier platforms by using niche or regional job boards to supplement recruitment efforts.
- Hiring events: Hosting a hiring event can be an effective strategy for companies to efficiently connect with potential candidates, build brand awareness, and ultimately find the best fit for their organization.
- Showcase pay transparency: Job postings that share the salary range are more likely to convert. According to Adobe's Future Workforce Study of recent and upcoming US post-secondary and recent graduates, 85% share that they are "less likely to apply for a job if the company does not disclose the salary range in the job posting."
Tip: Remember, every company is unique and needs to tailor their messaging to attract different audiences. Building candidate personas can help retail employers create more targeted and relevant content to attract the top talent, whether that’s a furniture salesperson, a grocery store cashier – or anything in between.
Achieve Retail Recruitment Success
We understand that time is valuable. The Recruitics team can provide strategic support and tailored recruitment marketing solutions based on robust data and advanced analytics to help retail organizations attract talent across a range of diverse labor markets.
If you need help deciding which projects or tactics to focus on first, please reach out to us
Also, stay tuned for our future blog on short-term, mid-term, and long-term road map projects for retail employers.