Recruitment in the retail industry is a time-consuming process. Whereas hiring managers in other industries may selectively interview candidates based on strong resumes, retail hiring managers usually have to make staffing decisions based on a personal interviews. Retail representatives are hired based on skill sets that are difficult to define on paper, which means that hundreds of potential employees may need to be interviewed.
The sheer number of job applicants for general positions in the retail field is overwhelming. As many as 40 or 50 people will apply for one job opening in retail, lengthening the recruitment process. Corporate retail positions are much simpler to fill, since particular skills, education, and experience are necessary to even get an interview.
Seasonal peaks in hiring needs make the number of job applicants and interviews even more overwhelming for HR managers in retail. As many as 700,000 temporary retail positions open up during busy holiday seasons, making personable, easily trained employees that much more important than at other times of the year.
Quick-Fire Seasonal Hiring
The months of October through December are considered the busy season in the retail industry. Department stores like Macy’s are the biggest employers during these busy times, followed by box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. The challenges these and other companies face during the busy season are formidable. Hiring managers must browse hundreds of resumes and job application forms, decide on and search for specific criteria to select interviewees, conduct interviews, choose the best candidates, and ultimately train dozens of new staff members in a very short amount of time so customers don’t see a difference in the company’s brand during the busy season.
Retailers have begun to change their recruiting techniques, moving away from in-store “now hiring” signs and media advertisements.
Automating the Process
Standardization has always been important for large companies with multiple stores, no matter what the industry. Automation ensures that products, services, and customer relationships are all created and and managed in the same way throughout a chain.
Wal-Mart has been employing virtual interviews for job candidates for several years now, and the automation has been a complete success. Not only does this process save time for both interviewers and interviewees, but it allows for a consistent and fair hiring process. Instead of shuffling through a stack of job applications, resumes, and cover letters, HR personnel can use an established system for live 2-way interviews or 1-way recorded interviews.
The benefits of automation and video technology don’t stop at the interview or hiring process. Through standardized software and practices, new recruits and existing employees can be trained using the same systems. Employee expectations, company culture, and specific job requirements can all be a part of these standardized training materials so that workers in different cities and states will be instilled with the same goals.
Most major retailers already use some kind of applicant tracking system (ATS) to keep track of so many job applicants. A good ATS will filter those applicants according to whatever criteria the retail hirer desires: past employers, special skills, or positive key words in the application, for example. This kind of automation technology allows the HR department to manually search through only those applications that meet standard requirements, instead of wasting time sorting through the entire pile. Store-specific “knock-out” questions can be included on the application form or standard video interview software to immediately determine whether a candidate is a bad fit for the job. It also allows the department to develop a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
The average company uses its CRM to deal specifically with customer relations, but many potential staff members can be found within this same pool. Often, retailers find employees that were chosen from among the regular customers are a great fit for the company. These people already know and appreciate the store culture, brand, and merchandise. A carefully maintained CRM can give retail employers a head start on seasonal hiring: all they need to do is send requests out to well-chosen, regular customers.
Video or audio interviewing technology is a crucial step towards a highly-efficient recruitment system. Audio interviews allow interviewees to record answers to preset questions without having to meet in person with an HR representative. Video interviews allow candidates to record video responses to preset questions by the employer. Recruiters can send hundreds of invitations out at once for the audio or video interviews and have candidates respond on their own time in a simulated interview environment. When hundreds or thousands of applications require processing, this saves an unprecedented amount of time.
Simplify Your Retail Recruitment
The unique recruitment scenario faced by retail companies can easily overwhelm the hiring department, especially during the peak holiday season. Fortunately, technological advancements can effectively condense the recruitment process and help hiring managers select the best candidates for each open position. Standardization and automation have always been important to the success of large and growing companies, and that fact is only cemented as time goes on.
Resume sorting, interviewing, hiring, and training are all processes that can be more effectively handled with the use of automation technology. The bigger and more successful your retail company becomes, the more applicants your hiring department will have to handle. Video, audio, and online technological solutions allow for a more streamlined hiring and training approach.