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How to Attract Top Talent in Today’s Retail Landscape

Guest Blog by Susan Vitale

The workforce is more competitive than ever due to cost-cutting and consolidations across the board, and the retail industry is especially feeling the squeeze. Mobile shopping has consumers skipping stores and using their mobile devices to make purchases instead. It’s a trend that’s altering the composition of the retail job market.

Recent reports show that department stores cut more than 38,000 jobs last year, and with consumer spending dipping in the first quarter of 2013, things are getting even tighter. On the other hand, economists are optimistic about e-commerce, which now accounts for 5.5 percent of total sales and is estimated to increase 15.2 percent from the first quarter of 2012.  Retail recruiters need to find cost-effective ways to source, communicate with, and hire talent to fit the changing landscape of available retail positions. Here are some of the fundamentals for attaining top retail talent on a tight budget:

1. Build Relationships with Your Target Audience

Recruiters in the retail industry have one huge advantage: strong brand recognition. Leverage your brand to connect with candidates. If you use talent acquisition software, you can easily display a consistent brand across all communications, like career portals, career microsites, and automated email communications.

And don’t forget to harness the power of social media to showcase your employment brand. By promoting job openings through sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ you can further your reach to potential new talent and immerse them in your company culture at the same time. It’s a great way to keep candidates actively engaged ensuring top talent is looking when an opening is posted.

2. Social Recruiting

Social media is also an extremely effective recruiting tool. Retail recruiters who deploy an automated social media distribution tool for their job openings gain insight into which channels perform best for specific positions. For example, some retail positions, like part time cashier, tend to be geared toward a younger audience. Millennials, defined as individuals born between 1981 and 2000, have the highest social networking penetration of any generation, so if you want them, you need to use social media to reach them. Retailers find increased effectiveness by targeting niche networks. Pinterest, for example, can be a great environment to find creative types, while LinkedIn tends to attract white-collar candidates. Choosing the right venue will help you better target your search and save time, money, and effort. Recruiters should also tap into their current social media following. People interacting on your social sites should be considered potential quality candidates since they have already shown an interest in your brand and your organization. One of the great benefits of social media is that many engaged users on your page are part of an untapped candidate pool right at your fingertips.

3. Finding the Right Fit

Lastly, as recruitment marketing budgets continue to tighten, the emphasis is on effectively identifying the right candidates. The retail industry has a high volume of applicants with a wide range educational backgrounds and skill levels. In order to streamline the hiring process, you need a system with a robust search functionality that allows you to pinpoint specific skills that each unique position requires. Targeted screening questions are another useful tool in a retail recruiter’s arsenal.  For example, if a job entails night and weekend hours, posing a simple question such as, “Are you available to work on nights and weekends” eliminates unqualified candidates, saving time and money for your organization. Screening questions, based on a candidate’s salary requirements and level of experience, are also helpful to quickly evaluate a candidate before the application even reaches a recruiter.

Engage Candidates, Further Your Reach, and Selectively Hire

The entire retail industry is changing rapidly, re-designing the landscape of recruiting. To attract and attain top talent, you have to do three key things; build relationships through consistent branding across all communications, harness social media to snag the best and brightest, and pinpoint the right candidate for each unique position. Your organization will need a well-executed plan to move through this process, and there are several solutions on the market that can be easily implemented to put your organization on the path to success quickly and efficiently.

Susan Vitale is CMO of iCIMS

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