Why Retail Recruiting is So Different Than Other Industries
The talent recruitment process is unique to every industry. Retail is certainly one of the more interesting ones. Retail is a world defined by trends — both internal and external. Additionally, it's one of the largest industries on the face of the planet, with sales projected to top $26 trillion by the end of 2019. So why is retail recruiting so different than others?
Well, there are many reasons. Most prominently, retail brings in workers from all walks of life. This is largely due to its size and the fact that retail companies are incredibly diverse, selling everything from food to fashion to technology.
As a recruiter trying to bring in the best talent, there are several key points about the retail industry that need to be kept top of mind. Let’s talk about three of the big ones.
Incredibly High Hiring Volumes
The number of retail workers is growing every year.
Now, this may sound misleading at first, given the fact that retail stores seem to be closing left and right in a phenomenon dubbed “The Retail Apocalypse.” However, it’s important to note that in the United States alone, nearly 16 million people work in retail, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s roughly one in 10 working Americans! This includes e-commerce giants like Amazon.com.
With such high hiring volumes, one of the toughest jobs for recruiters can simply be sifting through massive amounts of applications. Just like in any other industry, the initial paperwork involved in the recruitment process (resume, cover letter, etc.) is critical to making a good first impression. This is why many applicants are opting to use resume-building tools, like Resumonk, to help highlight their skills and make their initial outreach shine.
At this point in time, there's simply no denying the need for artificial intelligence-based recruiting. Many of these resources, like Newton and Harver, allow recruiters to optimize their job search and scan large volumes of resumes to pinpoint the exact skills and experience necessary. By eliminating the monotonous tasks involved with scanning initial paperwork, recruiters can devote much more of their valuable time to the most qualified candidates.
Lots of Competition
Retail companies are EVERYWHERE.
With so much product diversity falling under the “retail” umbrella, talented employees have no shortage of options when they're seeking out a new opportunity. Moreover, they don’t always have to settle for compensation.
If business owners want to attract the best, they need to provide the best. In reality, this is much easier said than done — especially when going up against corporate giants with massive budgets. Therefore, the challenge isn’t always hiring the best and brightest talent in the industry; it’s finding the right candidates for the right positions.
For smaller retail operations, the name of the game is finding employees with cross-functional experience that can quickly adapt. According to a survey by Indeed, more than 80 percent of retail employers struggle in finding these types of candidates.
This is another area in which AI-fueled screening can be very effective.
In the old days, regardless of what was on the resume, managers never really knew what they were getting until weeks — maybe even months — after an employee started working. Fortunately, nowadays there are data-driven assessments that can do wonders to help gauge a candidate’s aptitude before bringing them onboard.
Tools like Cut-E offer AI-backed employee screening assessments designed to measure key skills like communication, situational judgement, the ability to learn new processes, etc.
The goals of these assessments are to make more precise decisions throughout the recruitment process, reduce bias, boost efficiency, and gain a much clearer view into how a candidate would fit into the organization.
Many of these resources, to name Harver again, also enable companies to create a realistic job preview for candidates. This allows both parties to ensure the fit is right before making any decisions.
The challenges of stiff competition for talent don’t need to be the grim reaper of a retail operation. The keys are creating highly detailed job descriptions, expectations, and number-driven processes to spot potential and reel in qualified workers.
Retail and high turnover go together like bacon and eggs. According to LinkedIn’s data of around half a billion professionals, retail has the second highest turnover rate in the job market.
Essentially, the retail industry is in a constant state of hiring, firing and having employees move on, especially with hourly positions. Additionally, many aspects of retail operate around seasonal spurts. The holidays are when nearly every retail company is staffing up for the busy portion of the year. This creates even more turnover.
A survey by Hay Group found that nearly 75 percent of retail workers leave companies for better opportunities rather than higher pay.
So what can retail companies do to reduce their recruitment efforts?
Well, it all comes down to the job experience they offer. More particularly, the growth potential and career path. No one wants to stay at a company with little-to-no room for advancement. To reiterate, there's no shortage of job opportunities in retail. Employees (especially younger ones) will have no problem leaving for greener pastures.
If you want to keep people around and avoid the need for constant recruiting, you need to go the extra mile to retain employees and reduce turnover. This involves better training of valuable skills, transparent career trajectories, and incentives to put forth the effort.
Naturally, high turnover makes the process of retail recruiting extremely vigorous. The solution to the challenge is making it worthwhile to stick around. Truth be told, this often goes beyond higher compensation packages.
Retail is an industry that has seen all kinds of change in recent years. As e-commerce and customer convenience continue to evolve, it’s inevitable that there will be plenty more transformation in store.
When it comes to retail recruiting, hiring managers and company leaders need to approach these challenges head on. Whether it’s the sheer numbers, stiff competition or high turnover rates, recruiting in this industry will never be a piece of cake. Hopefully this post has provided some insight into how to better meet the needs of both candidates and your business.
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Manish Dudharejia is the President and Co-Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.