Getting Creative to Source for Retail

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Jun 8, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Attracting top talent continues to be a big issue for all businesses, but retail, in particular, is struggling this year with talent attraction. According to ManpowerGroup’s latest Talent Shortage Survey, 32% of U.S. employers reported facing difficulties filling jobs in 2015. When it comes to sourcing for retail roles, many recruiters may notice it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the right person for the role. There are not enough candidates; and when you do find a smart hire, the fallout rate during onboarding and the first few months of employment is on the rise.

The first step is attracting the right talent to the roles. Below are some ways for you to get creative when it comes to sourcing for retail:


Know your ideal candidate

People who work in retail LOVE the product they’re selling. Often, recruiters are so focused on finding that perfect profile – someone with a certain amount of experience or industry expertise – that they miss the obvious: the true fans of the product. Work with college career centers to look for students to work at an office supply store; on cycling Facebook pages for people to work in a bike shop; pin the job to a fashion page on Pinterest for a department store hire. Not only will the retailer and its customers benefit from having a local consumer as a sales associate, but you will end up with a more loyal hire as well.


Get them interested

According to a recent ManpowerGroup Solutions survey of job seekers across the globe, candidates in the U.S. are not as worried about the industry, type of work, or even compensation, as much as they care about the benefits, schedule flexibility and work/life balance they’d have with the company. Since these are things retail positions have not historically been extremely concerned with, it is important to focus on these in the recruitment process by:

  • Highlighting the perks: Advertise the additional perks of working for that retailer including product discounts, free or easy employee parking, career advancement and training available.
  • Sharing schedule details: Always the hardest requirement in retail, but be sure to list requirements and any options for flexibility in the schedule.
  • Targeting the ideal demographic: Consider what type of lifestyle would be best for your role and schedules available, and then target those candidates: stay-at-home moms, retirees, college students, etc.
  • Mirroring the atmosphere: If the environment in the store is fun and lively, then ensure your ads and interviews are too.


Don’t forget the walk-in

More and more, retail companies are looking to centralize recruiting – either by themselves or with the help of an RPO partner. A benefit is that it allows store managers to focus more on sales and in-store activities, but a possible downside is that they might lose track of the hiring process and send walk-in candidates to “the website” to apply. If that’s the case, here are some suggestions to give to store managers so they can connect candidates directly with the company’s ambassadors:

  • Provide business cards with the recruiter’s email address or phone number
  • Post QR codes near the door and/or cash register that direct the candidate to the online application (or at least the careers page)
  • Create text-to-apply campaigns that allow the candidate to send a text to receive a link to apply directly from their mobile device


Think long-term – build the pipeline

Not everyone you speak with today will be interested in the exact role and the shift you currently have available, but you will need that contact later on. In order to build a pipeline, consider the following:

  • Make sure they know you appreciate their time, and show them you do by keeping the conversation brief.
  • Ask for a referral, of course. They are in the demographic you want, so they may know someone else who’d be a good fit.
  • Ask what kind of position they may be interested in for the future and notate that.
  • Keep a system and records so you can build a talent pipeline that you can tap into the next time you need to hire for that specific store.


The dreaded rural market

If you’ve ever had to fill a couple hundred retail store jobs in the U.S., you probably had to hire in places like Kenai, AK or Klamath Falls, OR. Cities with very small populations, a retirement community, or vacation community can prove to be very tough. In these cases, it is important to get to know the demographics of that location and plan your sourcing strategy accordingly. Some creative ideas for targeting the right candidates in tough markets include:

  • Calling other retailers in the area to ask if they have referrals
  • Asking candidates you contact to share the opportunity with their Facebook friends
  • Posting to local Facebook pages with information about the open positions
  • Reaching out to local employment offices or workforce centers
  • Sending someone on-site for grassroots recruiting efforts
  • Calling local churches and coffee shops asking if they can post the opening
  • Find the product fan – look for people that love the product but may not be outright looking for a job

In today’s retail world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the right talent. But if you take a step back and look at brand advocates and ambassadors, it might present you with an option you may not have considered in the past.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.