Hiring Right the First Time

August 27, 2019


Hiring Right the First Time

Posted at 3:35PM • 8/05/19 • Liz Sagaser

A team is only as good as its weakest player.

This statement is true on the field, and it’s true in business. Customer service requires diligence on the part of every member of your staff, from long term full timers to seasonal helpers you add to the 4th quarter payroll.

Unemployment is low, which means the talent pool is smaller than usual. This is great news for the economy — but it means you need to bring your A-game when it comes to recruiting.


9 Smart Approaches for Retail Hiring

Referrals are where it’s at. Your top employee(s) probably have friends or family who work in retail, too. Work those connections by asking the most productive and successful members of your team to recommend someone who might be interested in joining your team. If you hire their recommendation, reward them with movie tickets or a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Reach out to former employees. There is significant value in bringing back an employee who has been an asset to your store in the past. Training will be a cinch, and you already know where they shine, and how to best implement their talent. If circumstances aren’t favorable for their return, ask for a referral, and keep in touch. The retail industry has a high turnover rate in general, but you never know when a favorite former employee might be ready and able to come back.

Go social. When promoting your store on Facebook or Instagram, drop a post once in awhile about what it’s like to work in your shop. Part of building your reputation as an excellent place to work includes celebrating employee birthdays and work anniversaries online, sharing employee successes, introducing newbies, and issuing invitations to apply when you’re hiring.  

Recruit from your competitors. Pay attention to retail environments you visit within a few miles of your business. There is no shame in wooing the competition’s top talent to join your crew. If you experience remarkable service or salesmanship, this person is likely an ideal candidate for an open position on your team: they are already trained, and have proven themselves. If you are lucky enough to nab a talented new hire this way, make sure you ask them to identify the best employees at their former place of work; these names should live in your “future reference” file.

Recruit your customers. Think about customers who shop with you often...the ones you’ve caught helping another customer find an item, or the ones your staff just loves to encounter. Your best customers make great recruits because they already know and like your firm and its products, and they are unlikely to have commute issues. Put up a sign that says, “If you like shopping here, maybe someday you’d like to work here.” Let customers who are potential hires know about the staff discount. The manager should approach a potential candidate one on one to gauge interest, and the opportunity isn’t a fit right now, ask for a referral of “someone like you.”

Hire same day. In a highly competitive job market, it’s a mistake to let a top candidate leave without getting a “yes” from them. Hiring managers must learn to make assessments quickly (especially when the candidate is a referral or customer) and to make an offer to a top candidate immediately after an interview. Be prepared to discuss important factors a top candidate may be considering, such as scheduling, growth opportunities, and workplace culture.

Seek out part-timers. Not everyone wants a career in retail, but a lot of people enjoy the prospect of part-time work in a field they enjoy. Target retirees, those on military pensions, the disabled, and stay-at-home spouses. In order to get them hooked, you may have to offer them part-time work that precisely fits their schedule initially. Consider offering higher pay if they’re willing to work during your critical peak times. As an example, a retired person willing to work a few weekend shifts a month could make it possible for you to give a dedicated member of your staff a weekend off now and then, which can help contribute to long term retention.

Consider your community. Reach out to community organizations, veteran’s groups, and churches to identify new residents who might have a family member in need of a job. If you are able to hire a differently-abled person through a local organization, you will be enriching someone’s life, and you, your staff, and your customers will likely be blessed in turn.

Modernize the way you recruit. Put a low priority on newspaper ads, job fairs, and large job boards. Be careful about putting up large external “help-wanted” signs. You don’t want to appear desperate to potential candidates, or scare away some customers who may fear you are understaffed. Ask open-ended questions in your interviews, and take the time to learn what drives potential recruits; understanding what makes a new staffer tick will help you with onboarding, management, and retention.


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