Retail: The Hiring Process

Turnover Challenges in Retail

Hiring in the retail industry is challenging. Management consulting firm, The Hays Group, estimates turnover among part-time retail employees to be as high as 75 percent. Retraining three quarters of your store’s workforce each year gets expensive. Couple that with the rising costs of providing a competitive wage and it is not difficult to see that retailers need to do anything they can to retain employees. Your people often drive revenue in retail environments, so having brand knowledgeable employees also becomes critically important to the customer experience.

Identifying the Right Applicants  

There are countless articles about how to retain your hourly staff – higher wages, cross-training, making them feel valued, etc., but what if you started by making sure you are hiring the right people in the first place? Too often we hear, “I just need a warm body. It’s just an hourly associate.” Just a warm body won’t help you sell more furniture, more clothes, or super-size more meals. There are certain characteristics in each of those employees that can help them to be successful, thus making them happier, more engaged, and more likely to stay. Getting the right people hired all starts at the front end of your hiring process and ensuring you are properly screening candidates.

First of all, you need to make it easy for the hourly workforce to apply. The days of the paper application are over and mobile is quickly taking over, with 50% of retail applicants searching and applying from their mobile device. Next, take the guesswork out of who you are spending your time with. Rather than looking at where someone went/goes to high school on an application (not relevant to their ability to upsell the ottoman with that couch), ask a few pre-qualifying questions about their experience, motivation, etc. It will save them time on the application and it will save you time in reviewing.

Use Benchmarks to Hire Confidently

Once you’ve established (based on pre-qualification) that someone meets your base line requirements, leverage tools that are available to make sure they have the characteristics to make them successful in your retail environment. An hourly employee who is going to be successful as a furniture salesperson is not necessarily the same profile as someone who will be successful as a cashier at a children’s retailer. But, hey…”just get me a warm body.”

You know what it takes to be successful in your retail environment, so test your existing staff to create benchmarks for what those successful characteristics look like and measure your applicants to those standards. With a sales hire, for example, look for candidates who are persistent, rank high in achievement striving, and show high integrity. Simplify your recruiting workflow, remove the guess work from your hiring decisions, and systematize your process so that you can begin to make better hires and reduce turnover.

CareerPlug Can Help

While this sounds like a radical change to the way you’ve always done things, it is really a process optimization that will make for a more positive applicant experience, a more data driven hiring process, and lower turnover for the company in the long run. CareerPlug can help to put these processes in place for you in one easy to use recruiting and applicant tracking system. We understand the importance of human capital and the impact changes in your labor force can have on your bottom line. Contact us today or learn more at


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Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

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