Why Hiring in Retail is Harder Than in Any Other Industry

Retail workforce management is one of toughest challenges facing retailers today, particularly the actual recruiting and hiring. One reason the task of hiring is so daunting is the sheer volume. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, retail is the largest private sector employer in the United States with a total employment of over 15 million people. 

Apart from the size of the workforce retailers employ, there are also the two vastly different types of employees they need to recruit: those who work in the store and those who work in the corporate retail offices. This duality makes hiring for retail tougher than for perhaps any other industry. So, how do you ease some of the pains and inefficiencies of a process made even more difficult by the dynamics of the retail workforce? Through technology.

Challenges in retail hiring for the store

As a retailer, you’re all-too-familiar with the challenges you encounter when trying to hire for your store. You know that when hiring store staff, you’re limited to a highly localized pool of candidates. Retail employees are often younger than in the overall workforce, with 22.7 percent of working teenagers employed in the retail sector. They’re likely looking for a job close to home or school. You also know that many students tend to look for summer jobs, leaving you with a flood of candidates from May through August, but scarcer resources throughout the rest of the year.

Seasonality is probably top-of-mind for you for sales and stocking reasons, but it also impacts your hiring. You may have to ramp up sales staff to meet a period of high demand, but you won’t need as many employees long term. The candidates themselves have likely thought about this, too, which may lead them to looking elsewhere for something less cyclic. Which leads to another issue, convincing candidates not to work for the competition.

When it comes to attracting and retaining workers, you’re not just competing with other businesses in your industry, but with all retailers. And because the average turnover rate in retail is 59 percent, your recruiting effort is a never-ending process.

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Corporate retail hiring concerns

Your frustrations only increase when hiring for the corporate office, since store employees and corporate employees have vastly different skill sets.

Retailers are looking for people who know their industry, but also have a certain level of technical training or management experience. Finding candidates with both often makes corporates roles harder for you to fill.

The struggle to find qualified candidates with direct, hands-on understanding of the industry has likely led you to hire from within. This is an excellent strategy when possible. After all, internal hires tend to outperform external hires, according to a study by The Wharton School. However, as mentioned previously, retention rates in retail are low. That makes it a challenge to keep talented employees working in the store long enough to move up the ladder.

How an applicant tracking system can help

Despite these difficulties and the unique problems you face when hiring for the store or the corporate office, there is hope in the form of workforce management technology. One way to streamline the recruiting and hiring process is through use of an applicant tracking system, which can help you identify the best applicants for each job and track them throughout the hiring process.

Since you have to manage hiring for both the store and the corporate office, an applicant tracking solution, like the one available through TRUNO TimeForge, can simplify the hiring and onboarding process with at-a-glance dashboards. And keeping the hiring process organized with automated workflows, status updates and integrated candidate messaging means you can hire more quickly. This lets you better meet increased demand or address issues with turnover. It also prevents the hiring process from taking too long, which can cause candidates to lose interest or accept a position elsewhere.

To help with managing the variety of the positions retailers hire, the TimeForge applicant tracking software allows users to customize job titles and descriptions. It also enables screening questions to help identify your most promising applicants. Hiring managers can rate and rank candidates within the program to facilitate discussions among decision makers.

Looking for a solution to help you take control of the hiring process? 

TRUNO TimeForge will give you the tools you need to track applicants from job posting to offer letter and beyond.

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