How does retail recruitment work and how can you strategize for it?

Last updated:
July 27, 2022
July 27, 2022
min read
Nick Shaw
retail recruitment
Table of contents

The retail landscape has changed a lot in the past couple of years, and retailers are looking forward now to the return to brick-and-mortar stores. 

The availability of online shopping means that customer expectations are high. One of the ways that you can meet these expectations is a solid retail recruitment strategy. 

What is Retail Recruitment?

Retail recruitment is the process of recruiting staff in the retail industry. The term encompasses every aspect of the hiring process and implies a process geared towards building a cohesive and customer-oriented team. 

A few challenges that come when recruiting for retail

No recruitment process is without its challenges. Understanding what pitfalls you might encounter will help you get around them while working and save you time and effort. As well as these common hazards, you should try to avoid unconscious bias in hiring and a poor candidate experience

1. Finding talent with technology skills

The recruitment process, and retail more generally, is increasingly reliant on technology these days. This means that recruiters and store managers need technical skills and the ability to quickly learn new ones. 

Recent customer expectations include the ability to have products ordered to their local store. This is sometimes called Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS ecommerce). 

Retail employees will need to understand multichannel inventory management and ordering systems in order to serve consumers better. 

2. Finding the right fit

As with any hiring process, retail recruitment sometimes struggles to find the right fit. There are certain qualities that team members need to have, including:

  • Strong verbal communication.
  • A helpful attitude.
  • The ability to learn quickly.

Think carefully about the skills you most value in your employees and look for these when you’re going through resumes. Take a look at the image below which summarizes some of the most sought after skills in retail.

Image source:

3. Employee retention

It’s an unfortunate fact that, for some, retail work is short-term. This is particularly true of certain locations like college towns. High staff turnover can seriously affect a store’s workflow processes and productivity. 

This means added pressure for hiring teams and potential problems with team cohesion in-store. This is one of the major reasons why you might want to rethink your recruitment strategy for retail.

Top strategies on Retail Recruitment

Now that you’re aware of some of the potential issues for recruitment, you’re ready to dive into some strategies to help optimize recruitment for your retail company. 

1. Determine your hiring goals

Knowing what you want from your hiring process will help you to streamline your efforts. These goals might include:

A shared goal will help your hiring team to work cohesively together and get the best possible outcome. 

2. Begin with a clear role and needed competencies

You should know what skills you need from potential hires before putting out the advertisement. 

Some of the most important soft skills you might specifically look for are:

  • Patience
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Empathy

Examples of some of the hard skills that are beneficial in a retail role are:

  • Basic math skills
  • Sales skills
  • Product knowledge

This saves valuable time for your team, but also for candidates who might not be a good fit for the position. 

Data source: Statista

You should also distinguish between skills that you’re willing to provide training for and what level you need them to be at. 

3. Communicate to your candidates on what you are looking for

Honest communication is vital to the hiring process. You should be clear with candidates from the beginning about what you’re looking for so that they can tailor their application to you. 

Clearly describe the position in the job advert, listing all responsibilities as well as the desired skills and experience. At every point of contact with the candidate summarize these again to make sure they fully understand what is expected in the available role.

This will help you to attract candidates who have the potential to excel in the advertised position. 

4. Source candidates with the right channels

Different positions will require different personality types and levels of work experience. The type of candidate you’re targeting for a specific position, will determine which channels you should be using. 

For example, if you’re looking to fill a role quickly or source local candidates, you could use a dedicated job site. Or, if you’re looking for candidates with more business-oriented skills then you might use a connection site like LinkedIn. 

Hiring has been through a digital transformation in recent years that means it’s highly reliant on multichannel advertising of roles.

Related reading: how to improve your talent sourcing this year

5. Maximize your multi-channel presence

Not every potential candidate will use every channel where positions are advertised. By only using one or two channels, you might be missing out on highly skilled individuals simply because they haven’t seen the role. 

You should aim to have a presence on at least one or two dedicated job-hunting sites as well as your social media channels to announce any recruitment drives. You could also look into more traditional methods of newspaper or news-site advertising if your business is location specific. 

6. Align the interview process to the role

Make sure that your interview process isn’t performative. This means that both you and the candidate should get something out of the interview. 

Most of the time, this will take the form of information. The interview is your chance to get to know the candidate and their skills, but it’s also a chance for the candidate to find out about your company. 

The interview process should be relevant to the role. Your candidate should have the opportunity to meet some of their potential colleagues and the questions and interview style should relate to the job expectations. 

7. Provide careers and not jobs

Employee retention is a particularly prevalent issue in the retail industry. This is largely down to the perception of retail roles as short-term and unrelated to a career path. 

By offering candidates the opportunity to progress in your company and build a career, you can help to break down this perception and attract candidates with the right skillset that would otherwise not apply. 

8. Exhibit the company values

One of the goals of the hiring process is to onboard staff who are part of a team and work towards a common aim. 

Displaying the company values right from the start of the hiring process shows that your team is genuine and will be a great team to work with. This will help you to attract talented candidates and unite your hiring team to a single goal. 

This is all part of your employer branding strategy and is good for your public-facing image. 

9. Right attitude means determination to get trained

The best candidate isn’t necessarily the most highly-qualified. Retail is an industry that needs a diverse portfolio of skills, and it’s often unreasonable to expect candidates to have all of them. 

What makes a good retail candidate is the right attitude. This means that they’re willing to learn and able to take on suggestions for improvement. So long as they have the basic communication skills and a friendly attitude, the right candidate can learn to use your inventory systems and payment methods. 

Final Thoughts

Recruiting for retail can be challenging but it can also be incredibly rewarding. The right strategies can help you to create a dedicated and collaborative team that exceeds customer expectations and improves customer retention. 

By offering careers and the opportunity to progress, as well as a streamlined hiring process with clear company values, you’ll attract the right candidates and take your retail recruitment to the next level!

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