Did you know that 90% of retail sales still take place in brick-and-mortar stores? And despite the rise of online shopping, retail companies are still major employers around the world. 4.6 million people work in retail sales and further 3.4 millions are employed as cashiers in the U.S. alone. With the customer focus being in the heart of every retail business, it’s no wonder that retailers are keen to find the best retail employees to provide high-quality service to their customers. However, with today’s low unemployment of under 5% across the industry and high employee turnover rates, it’s not the easiest task to accomplish.
In fact, it is actually taking longer and longer to fill retail vacancies. A recent study revealed that time to fill in retail and wholesale has increased by 76% since 2001. So the question is: where can you find the best retail employees? In this article, we share 11 different ways you can source the best retail employees possible to offer a great experience to customers and help your store thrive.
- In-store applications
- Company website
- Professional social networks
- Employee referrals
- General job boards
- Specialist job boards
- Your own talent pool
- Social media platforms
- CV databases
- Hiring events
- Recruiting agencies
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Where to find the best retail employees for your store
So much goes into recruiting the best candidates for open retail roles—and sourcing is certainly a challenging part of the process. Job seekers today know they have options, and it’s up to you to make sure you’re reaching them before the competition does. That’s why it’s important to have a comprehensive sourcing strategy in place that covers everything from walk-in applicants to specialist job boards.
1. In-store applications
Candidates that decide to apply at your store are usually already your customers—which means they’re already advocates of your brand. And because they’re actively asking to work for your brand, you already know their interest level is high. Why not take advantage of it by accepting applications in your store? (If you really like someone, you can even interview them on the spot!)
You should allow walk-in candidates to apply in-store and utilize technology to connect them to more information about the role. For example, you can have a QR code in your store that links to an online application. Some recruiters are even using instant messaging apps like WhatsApp as a recruiting tool to help them communicate with job candidates quickly and directly.
Make sure to add the in-store applicants into your ATS together with applicants from other sources so that no qualified candidate slips through the cracks.
2. Company website
Company career sites usually attract a reasonable number of high-quality job candidates who are already interested in your brand—but you still have to get people to your website. That’s why you need to build a strong employer brand just like these retailers did to make sure you reach the right people. HomeDepot is an example of a retailer with great employer branding. They share real employee stories on their careers page, with photos and videos that show what it’s like to work there—and it has no doubt worked to attract retail candidates. The company has even developed its own hiring technology allowing their applicants to schedule interviews. Almost 1 million people have already used the tool.
Beside making it easy for your candidates to apply, your careers page should also include candidate-centric, informative content that appeals to retail job seekers. Content should be relevant, timely, and engaging to attract the best possible candidates to apply. You should also aim to reach candidates in every stage of the candidate journey—from initial awareness and consideration to the final hiring stage.
3. Professional social networks
Networking is a critical part of finding and recruiting the best candidates—and that includes digital networking too. There are several professional social networking websites available that you can use to find the best retail job seekers. For example, these days pretty much every recruiter uses Linkedin for candidate sourcing and advertising open roles. Like LinkedIn, Jobcase is a professional social networking platform designed to connect employers and job seekers.
Meetup, a website that allows people to host various group networking events for people in their area, is a great resource for meeting candidates or even other recruiters that live near your store. You should look for retail-specific networking groups and events to make sure you’re reaching your target candidates for retail jobs.
4. Employee referrals
You can usually find the best retail employees in your current employees’ networks. What better way to reach potential employees than to begin an employee referral program? Your existing employees are built-in ambassadors for your brand and are the best people to help sell open positions to other qualified candidates.
The number one way people discover new jobs is through referrals—and because word of mouth is another top channel people use to find new jobs, you can attract candidates just be encouraging your employees to spread the word! Employees who are referred by current staff members are also more likely to be a good cultural fit. Referred hires have proven to be more engaged at work and faster to finish onboarding—and in the busy retail world, efficiency is no doubt a priority.
In retail industry, you can go even further than getting referrals from your employees. How about asking your customers or suppliers to refer potential new hires for your store?
5. General job boards
Most job seekers today start their search with general job boards like Indeed and SimplyHired. These are a great place to start your search as well; however, it’s important to find ways to stand out with your job descriptions and use the right keywords to attract retail candidates. You also need to be specific about your location so that the candidates looking for jobs in their vicinity can find your openings easily.
Indicate whether you’re hiring full-time, part-time, temporary or other employees and also what seniority level your ideal candidates are. All of this will make your open roles easily findable on a general job board.
Job seekers searching on Indeed can filter job openings based on multiple criteria, including distance, salary estimate, location, experience level, and more. Including all this information in your job ad will improve its visibility.
6. Specialist job boards
Specialist job boards are another excellent way to reach retail job seekers directly. You can find candidates who are specifically interested in working in the retail industry by searching and posting on these websites. There are several retail job boards online, and posting on them will help you widen your search pool to reach more potential candidates. The most popular retail job boards are Work In Retail, RetailCrossing.com, Retail Gigs, All Retail Jobs, Careers in Grocery, RetailJobsWeb, RetailChoice, and iHireRetail.
If you do post open roles on a specialist job board, make sure you take the time to craft an accurate but engaging job description to appeal to people browsing the site looking for open retail roles. (Here’s an article on crafting the perfect job description to help you out!)
7. Your own talent pool
Another great place to find the best retail employees is to search your own talent pool. You should make it a point to search through your existing talent database to find suitable candidates for each retail job you hire for. For instance, you can reach out to both past candidates and previous seasonal workers to gauge their interest in another position. That’s why it’s good practice to continuously build up your talent pool over time to make sure you always have a place to reach potential candidates.
Wegmans allows job seekers to sign up for job alerts based on location and interests. These people become the part of your talent pool and should be one of the first to look at when looking to fill open roles, because you know already they are interested in your organization.
8. Social media platforms
You can use social media platforms to build your employer brand and reach potential candidates. According to a Jobvite report, 92% of recruiters utilize social media to reach candidates for their open roles. It offers employers a great opportunity to showcase their company culture to appeal to the best retail employees. Social media content has proven extremely effective for engaging retail employees—but it has to be relevant and interesting if you want to stand out in the crowd!
Mix up the content you post to keep followers engaged and reach a wider network. You can share both photo and video content that offer behind-the-scenes previews of what it’s like to be an employee for your brand. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest are all popular social media sites that you can use to visually appeal to candidates with engaging content. Many recruiters also use features like the Jobs tab on Facebook to reach people where they’re most active. In addition, you can post updates on these social platforms promoting open roles you’re hiring for.
Ask your employees to share your the open roles on their personal social media profiles and help spread the word. Likewise, encourage employee-generated content that you can reshare from the company profiles.
Target Careers Facebook page features a Job Search tab. Potential candidates can access information about job openings conveniently, straight from the company profile page.
9. CV databases
Search for retail job candidates in CV databases such as Monster, Stepstone, and TotalJobs to expand your reach even more. Many active job seekers add their CVs to these databases in hopes of connecting with the right potential employer—and that could be you!
Make sure to filter by location and to use the right search keywords to find top-quality candidates with the skills you’re looking for. Also, try looking up different keywords so you don’t miss out on any great retail candidates. Applying Boolean search principles will help you narrow down the job candidate list.
10. Hiring events
If you really want to stand out next to other retailers in your area and attract as many high-quality retail employees as possible, you should consider hosting a hiring event. This is essentially like an open house or career fair to bring in as many job seekers as possible to meet and interview on the spot. This also speeds up the hiring process, as you’re able to connect and assess candidates on the spot. Bloomingdale’s and Dollar Tree are two great examples of retailers who have hiring events to screen, interview, and hire employees quickly.
AT&T regularly organizes retail hiring events in many locations, which helps them connect with and engage candidates and also hire faster.
11. Recruiting agencies
There are specific recruiting agencies that specialize in recruiting retail employees. They can help you fill your vacancies—especially seasonal ones where you need to hire and get people up to speed as fast as possible. Recruiting agencies can also help you stand out among competitors during busy seasons, such as over the holidays when many retailers are likely to be hiring seasonal retail employees.
When deciding what agency to work with, check their references to be sure you’re choosing the right recruitment partner. Depending on the niche you’re in, you can even look for agencies in the same sector, for instance, fashion retail.
Now over to you
There are numerous places where you can look to find your future retail employees, both online and offline. A great way to assess where you should focus your efforts is to look at where the most candidates—as well as the best candidates—on your team have come from. Then you can decide on the right combination of your retail sourcing channels to make sure you always have the best retail employees for your store.