How to Hire Retail Employees

November 13, 2014 6:31 pm Published by Will Thomson


The retail industry has one of the highest turnover rates and therefore is one of the most difficult to keep staffed. Staff is always fluctuating due to consumer spending. Some seasons have more personnel than others. The pay is usually less, the hours are longer and the positions don’t usually offer a lot of fulfillment. Training the individuals takes time. It is a constant cycle. People are getting hired and people leave. Online services may change the need for hiring as many retail employees in the future, but for today, there is still a large portion of people who like to shop in stores. Because of that, we need retail employees. It is good for the economy and it is good for the unemployment rate.

So, the question is how do we attract retail employees? How do we recruit? Is it that much different than recruiting for other industries? What are the secrets? Here are a few ideas.

Employee referrals are still king.

The first place to find talent is to ask the people that work at your organization. People are more likely to stick around if they are working with people they like and know despite the type of work they are doing. The pitfall of this, of course, is that if one person leaves, the referral will likely leave also. Still, it is the best way to find talent.

Know Your Audience.

Are you recruiting Gen Y, Gen X, or Baby Boomers?  I would suggest you target all 3, but it is important to recognize that every age group comes with different ways to recruit. Gen Y is much more attune to employer branding and will most likely look online to see who is looking to hire. Social Media presence is becoming increasingly important. Gen X and Baby Boomers still need employment, but want to feel like their input is valued and put an emphasis on family. If your work offers these things, then promote it and add it in your pitch.  

Think basics.

Simple hiring ads on your doors are no longer enough to attract candidates to your roles. If your company is in a highly trafficked area by consumers, signs out in front of your building might work, but won’t bring in quality candidates as quickly as you need them. In addition to posting storefront signs, advertise your jobs on social media. With over 3 billion users, chances are your candidates checking their Twitter or Facebook feeds regularly. Pair that with advanced targeting criteria social networks offer (like location, job title or interests) and you’ll staff your retail organization in no time. 

Don’t forget your Customers.

Customers can spread the word quick. It is important that every customer has a good customer service experience. If you feel that the customers left satisfied, ask them to spread the word to other customers. People want to help other people that they had a good experience with.

Talk to your competition.

Sorry. It is a competitive world we live in. Find out what the shop next door is doing. Know what they are looking for. You can poach. No one said it is against the rules. You may get your hand slapped, but that comes with the territory. Be graceful, they may know someone that is looking also.  

Talk to Former Employees.

Since retail has such high turnover, think about the people that have left your organization. They may have the summers off and need employment again. They may have taken a semester off from school. Circumstances change and as long as the employees left in good standing, it is always worth reaching back out to employees that have worked at your company before.

Involvement in the Community.

Part of the branding effort is to have your name always available for the customer to see. The more recognizable your brand, the more people will want to work for you. If you are near a high school, sponsor a soccer league. Give out raffle tickets for a free meal. Make sure people are coming to your store, not the competition.

Make it fun.

Is your company a fun company to work for? What separates your company from the other retail organizations? Why wouldn’t someone leave for an extra dollar? People want to work for a fun environment with fun people. Have contests with spiffs for people that bring in people. Have company events that people are excited about attending. I can think of 2 organizations in Austin that do it extremely well. Check out Amy’s Ice Cream and Thundercloud Subs. If you have a fun culture, people will stay. 

So there you have it. There are a million other ways you can recruit retail employees, but those are some that really stick out. It is a daunting task because the constant churn, but it is a field that needs constant recruitment.

Can you think of any other ways to hire retail employees that I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!



This post was written by Will Thomson

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