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Eight Ways to Address the Retail Recruitment Skills Gap

Adam Williams

Mike Licht/Flickr Mike Licht/Flickr

The rush to recruit in retail has led to high staff turnover and employees with insufficient skills. We give retail recruiters eight ways to make their approach more effective.

Retailers receive a high volume of applicants when recruiting – according to report by Retail Gazette, nearly half of companies receive 51-100 applicants per position. The chore of finding the right candidate can be massive, but if there is a rush to fill the position, it may lead to employees with inadequate skills later leaving the company.

An effective recruitment process that is specific to the job rather than generic is important to avoid this.

Create a Profile of your Ideal Candidate

Before sending out the job advert, analyse the skills and characteristics of top performers in your company and use this to create an ideal candidate profile. This way you will be able to create a clear and specific ad that tells applicants everything about the job and what it entails.

This requires stating the good and bad, although this could frighten some applicants. In the end, it will reduce the influx of incompetent applicants.

Internal Transfers and Employee Referrals

You should first post the position internally before posting it on the internet and job boards. AON Consulting says in their experience, “companies fill about 20 to 30 percent of all positions with internal transfers and promotions. In this economy, that number is increasing to nearly 40 percent.”

Implement a referral incentive for current employees to encourage their friends and acquaintances to apply for the position.

Online Pre-employment & Pre-screening Tests

Online tests such as psychometric assessments are efficient ways to prescreen a large amount of applicants. Adaptive tests are now available and require a lot less time to complete than traditional tests.

They are more efficient because the tests change dynamically depending on how successfully the candidate answers earlier questions. It may also be necessary to ensure that you have a good Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in place.

Automated Scheduling

An automatic scheduling system can increase efficiencies. Build a scheduling program that offers applicants a variety of time slots to schedule their interview at their leisure.

The hire manager or interviewer can offer a certain time slot each week which can then be used to match up with the candidate’s schedule.

Video Interviewing

Interviewing and screening a candidate over the phone can add cost and time to the process, especially with high-volume recruitment. Using a video interviewing platform like LaunchPad Recruit's means you can screen candidates and view their interviews whenever is convenient for you.

It means you don't have to sync up your schedule with the candidate's and you'll get a much better idea of how they react to certain questions, allowing you to assess their body language and personality more than you can over the phone.

Prepare Your Hiring Manager

The hiring manager should be well prepared with questions that are tailored according to the candidate’s prescreening and assessment results. Some assessments provide hiring managers with a guide to create an interview according to their competency scores.

Recommendations based on previous answers help hire managers conduct the interview more efficiently and proficiently.

Look for Potential Candidates Everywhere

Retail businesses are facing ongoing skills shortages and, whilst being required to quickly recruit from a high volume of applicants, hiring staff are appointing insufficiently skilled employees, leading to much higher turnover rates than the norm. This being the case, it may be necessary to search for employees outside the usual means.

You should always be willing to take in CVs and hold interviews -- keep the lookout for a suitable candidate, even if you aren’t currently hiring.

Also stay connected with potential candidates you met in the past but didn’t have an available opening for. When there is a sudden need for employees, you will be prepared and have suitable candidates in mind who have already been vetted.

Identify potential candidates working in other stores, especially your smaller competitors. Often this is where you’ll find the best candidate. You can act like a customer to see how the employee works, and if you find they suit your business- get to know them and let them know about a job opportunity or keep them in mind for the future.

Consider hiring one of your regular customers. They are the ones who know your store the best and share the same passion for your product and services. You know them already and can easily observe their interpersonal and communication skills when they are in your store and talking to shop assistants.

If you find someone that is competent in these skills and passionate about your store, they might be potential employee.

Look to other sectors for potential candidates who do have sufficient skills. Many retailers want an individual with not only retail experience, but also technological and mathematical abilities.

The change in the retail market has led to demand for a broader range of skills, as Recruitment International reported. Recruitment teams should implement better talent management strategy to find people with more generalized abilities in order to overcome the skill shortage obstacle.

Outsource Recruitment Projects

During times of high volume recruitment, bring in experts on short term basis to help manage the spikes in recruitment without adding overhead. RPO is one company that can offer recruitment project services – they are brought in to work with your existing recruitment team and offer leading edge technology, assistance to reduce the time and cost of the process.

Implementing an efficient recruitment process is vital to appointing the right employees as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Spending time at the start to establish an effective system to properly prescreen and handle a high volume of applicants will pay off in the long term.

Adam Williams

Retail and Hospitality Lead for LaunchPad, Video technology for employers.