Retail is one of the most important industries in the US. According to data from the National Retail Federation, the retail industry directly employs 32 million workers and tangentially supports an additional 20 million more. Retail stores must recruit skilled, knowledgeable employees to meet evolving customer needs and keep up with ecommerce competition from ecommerce. Store owners or managers use retail recruiting to identify the best staff members for their needs.
What is retail recruiting?
Retail recruiting encompasses the hiring process for retail employees, including identifying, attracting, and hiringcandidates. The goal is to find individuals with the right skills and qualifications. An effective recruiting strategy can expedite hiring and help avoid worker shortages.
Recruiting strategies vary widely depending on the size of your company and the number of retail jobs you’re looking to fill. In large department stores, corporate employees predetermine and oversee hiring practices, whereas small retailers often have store owners and managers personally managing the hiring process.
Challenges of retail recruiting
The retail recruitment process can be time-consuming and expensive. Here are some challenges employers face when staffing retail jobs:
Many large companies use automated tools to scan online applications, filtering out poorly written résumés before they ever reach the hiring team. Small or old-fashioned businesses may not have access to the same technology, making reviewing applications a time-intensive, manual process. For example, when faced with 100 résumés for an open position, you may find it time-consuming to review each applicant thoroughly.
Shifts in seasonal demand
Brick-and-mortarstores tend to experience seasonal traffic spikes, for instance, during the holiday season. This might be great for business, but increased activity may require more employees. Some retail stores address this by hiring teams of seasonal workers. However, this might introduce new challenges, like investing training resources in retail associates who may only stick around for a short period.
High staff turnover is a significant challenge in the retail industry. (Calculate turnover by dividing the number of departing employees by total employment.) According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail industry’s average turnover rate was approximately 3.3% in the summer of 2023—in contrast to the national average of 2.5%. A high turnover rate can be costly for employers because hiring and training new employees takes time.
Retail jobs generally require employees to be on site during work hours, limiting the feasibility of hiring remote workers and restricting the available candidate pool to those residing within commuting distance. You can end up competing for a limited number of qualified candidates, especially in small cities or towns.
Tips for retail recruiting
- Set hiring goals
- Write accurate job descriptions
- Highlight workplace appeal
- Use online job boards
- Create a straightforward interview process
- Maintain a healthy work environment
The right employees can make your life easier by helping your business run smoothly and creating a positive customer experience.
These tips can help retail companies attract and retain top talent:
Set hiring goals
Before you start recruiting, assess the position you need to fill and the qualities you’re looking for in a new hire. Consider listing your desired qualifications, including needed competencies and background experience. For example, if you’re hiring a store manager, you may want several years of retail experience and proven leadership skills. A more junior position may only need basic familiarity with your operation.
Write accurate job descriptions
Once you understand your hiring needs, create a clear job description that communicates workplace expectations, requirements, and duties. The description should give applicants a solid understanding of what the job entails. Include a job title, desired experience level, salary range, and any benefits.
Highlight workplace appeal
The recruitment process is a two-way street. Finding talented candidates is not enough; you also need them to accept your job offer. Emphasize the benefits of joining your team in your job description, including advantages like competitive pay, flexible scheduling, a positive work environment, or employee discounts.
Use online job boards
Sharing your job listing on the right channels can help you reach a wider audience, increasing the likelihood that it will catch the attention of solid retail candidates. According to a report from the Income and Benefits Policy Center, one-fifth of retail workers are between 19 and 24. Overlooking this demographic could shrink your applicant pool. Given that many younger candidates prefer online job searches, it makes sense that offering online applications will attract more submissions.
Create a straightforward interview process
Interviews give hiring managers a chance to get to know potential candidates. This can be useful when hiring for retail roles that include a customer service component. Chatting with a candidate face-to-face can grant insight into how they might handle a difficult customer interaction. To create a fair process and to make it easier to compare candidates, interview the best talent in your applicant pool and ask them similar questions.
Maintain a healthy work environment
After you hire your retail workers, you don’t want them to quit. A low turnover rate can reduce the time spent recruiting and training new staff. Focus on retaining your current employees by fostering a positive work environment free of harassment and discrimination.
Positive manager-employee relationships can also help reduce employee turnover rates. Consider the well-known business adage: people leave managers, not companies.
Retail recruiting FAQ
What does a retail recruiter do?
Dedicated retail recruiters post on job boards, review applications, and identify qualified candidates for large retail companies.
What qualities make a good recruiter?
Recruiters need strong communication skills, confidence, and salesmanship to attract candidates. In addition to finding talent, recruiters keep potential candidates interested in new roles by showcasing the appeal of the workplace.
Why should you create a retail recruiting strategy?
A strong recruiting strategy can help retail companies find the right candidates. Developing an ongoing recruitment strategy and maintaining a candidate pool can help your business avoid worker shortages—if an employee leaves unexpectedly, you already have a hiring plan.