Retail Hiring Skills

You’re a new manager of a specialty retail store, and one of your top performers quits unexpectedly. Suddenly you have an opening to fill or you’ll be short-staffed for the upcoming big sales weekend. Now what? Better find the first warm body who can operate the cash register and hope for the best.

Many retail managers are faced with this challenge on a regular basis. Turnover can be high in retail, and managers are often at the effect of employees who suddenly decide they’d rather go work for a different store down the mall or go back to school full time. When inexperienced managers have to make knee-jerk hiring decisions, chances are they’ll hire the wrong person who have the potential to damage your brand in the long run. Plus, by the time you factor in the administrative costs of hiring and training, you’ve invested a lot of time and money. If managers hire the wrong person, they likely won’t be able to deliver the results you need either.

Depending on the number of stores, think of the domino effect if each store hires one wrong person during a 6 month period.

Hiring Should Support the Brand Promise

The ideal solution is to create a recruiting, interviewing and hiring program in your company that aligns with your external brand and customer promise. Such a program will help inexperienced managers become hiring experts by providing tools and guidelines for finding and selecting the ideal people to represent your brand and suit your culture.

If your company doesn’t have such a program, you can help managers be prepared for hiring by encouraging them to build a network of possible candidates before they have an opening. When they’re ready to hire, they will have a ready-made pool of prospects they can tap into. Here’s a few tips to get them started.

  1. Evaluate your existing network. Managers may believe they have only a small network of contacts, but it’s probably bigger than they think. Their network could include employees of other stores in their mall who they’ve become acquainted with. It could include former coworkers from previous positions. If they’re students, their network could include classmates. A solid network should include not just potential candidates, but other contacts who can make referrals. Assign your managers the task of recording everyone who’s already in their networks. They’ll probably be surprised at how many people they have on their lists.
  2. Schedule opportunities for networking. Whether it’s attending a community meeting, social function, or simply finding time to walk through the mall and meet fellow retailers, your managers should have time set aside on a regular basis to actively build their network.
  3. Turn on the networking radar. Your managers are also customers. They shop at other retail stores, eat at restaurants and coffee shops. Have them develop their networking radar so they’re always on the lookout for a person who could be a good fit for their store. Arm them with business cards they can pass out and encourage them to capture contact information when the meet a potential prospect.

If your managers have a solid network at their fingertips, they’ll be ahead of the game whenever they have an opening to fill. As they build their networks, they can also begin qualifying their top prospects. In a future post, we will offer tips for effective qualifying that align with your brand and help identify the right people to deliver your customer promise.

When you’re ready to create a recruiting, interviewing, and hiring program that ignites your brand, Kennedy Communications can help you.

For more thoughts on the employee experience, be sure to explore these articles:

Best Practices for Employee Onboarding

Empowering Employees to be in the Moment with Customers

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.