Your recruiting-for-retail checklist

Retail has one of the highest turnover rates of any industry, making recruitment a frequent concern.

But whether you’re looking for casual or full-time staff, it’s never as simple as just plugging a vacancy. As the face of your store, candidates must be committed to providing customers with the service upon which your business’s reputation hinges.

If you’re not attracting the right candidates, it’s time to consider rebooting your recruiting. Founder of RECRUIT2Retail Merryn Hailes has some quick tips for sourcing, spotting and reeling in great talent.

Where to look

Social media

“In a day when everyone of any age is really fixated on social media, you have to tap into your followers on Insta and use your Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook to source great talent,” Hailes says.

By using social media to engage with followers and advertise positions, Hailes says you’ll attract applicants who already have a connection to your brand.

Target ideal candidates through the channels they are most active in and use popular hashtags they follow. Remember when McDonald’s went recruiting via Snapchat? The company enticed 250,000 young workers.


Similar to tapping into your social media following, advertise positions in-store to capture candidates who already have a strong connection to your brand.

“The other internal process is giving existing employees an incentive for referring the best candidates into the brand,” Hailes says.

What to look for

1. Hard skills

Candidates with the following hard skills are likely to shine as the face of your brand:

  • Sales technique. “Definitely look for people who have a confident and strong approach to customer service, so being able to approach a customer, educate them on the product and see the sales process through,” Hailes recommends.
  • Time management. Look for people who can prioritise and manage their time effectively. As Hailes points out: “In retail, everything can be tracking along really nicely and your store can look great, and then all of a sudden you’ve got 50 boxes of stock, a new promo to set up and a wall to VM (visual merchandising).”
  • Initiative. In situations like the above, someone with a proven ability to use their initiative is more likely to step up and help create order among chaos.
  • Experience. “If they’ve worked in a similar sales or customer-service role, obviously that’s going to lend itself to picking up the role quicker,” Hailes says.

2. Personality

Your store has its own identity and so do your candidates, but there are a few traits all great retail workers have in common:

  • Patience, resilience and quick thinking. With challenging customers in particular, Hailes says candidates need to possess patience, be thick-skinned and have the ability to think quickly on their feet.
  • Drive. Look for candidates who are driven, both to represent your brand and to achieve personal or team goals.
  • Passion. Ideal candidates will be ambitious and hungry for the opportunity, according to Hailes. Look for people who’ve done their research on your brand’s positioning, history and what it offers customers in terms of service and experience.

In the interview

  1. Be warm. A strong sense of warmth and humanity is really important in recruitment, says Hailes, who built her award-winning business on this very premise. It helps put candidates at ease and allows their skills and personality to shine through.
  2. Find out about their life outside of work. As well as breaking the ice, asking candidates about their interests, passions or travels can help you find the right fit for your business. “Some of those personality traits – like, are they comfortable pushing themselves out of their comfort zone? Are they worldly? And how active are they socially? – will come through from quite relaxed, general conversations,” Hailes says.
  3. Uphold your brand with integrity. “It doesn’t matter whether they are successful in gaining the position or not,” Hailes says. “You want someone to walk away with a positive experience of your brand. That means being prepared and having the key positives and strengths of your business lined up, ready to sell to the right candidate.”

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