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Should We Rethink the Way We Recruit in Retail?

Brick and mortar holiday purchases still command a vast portion of total retail sales, but there’s a problem brewing: there’s not enough people to fill all the job openings.

According to the Wall Street Journal, retail job postings are outpacing hiring, and brands are beginning to offer unprecedented perks to attract talent for the holiday season. Traditional recruitment tactics aren’t getting the job done. Retail brands need a new approach – fast – to properly staff for a holiday season that projects to be one of the best in years.

retail recruitment digital ads

Taking a Page from Customer Acquisition

Customer acquisition and marketing have long been at the forefront of digital, taking big risks and pushing the envelope just to capture marginal advantages. So why aren’t retailers taking the same digital approach to finding new employees?

The likely answer is that customer acquisition generates revenue, while recruitment typically adds to the cost column. But hiring great frontline sales talent can have a tremendous effect on driving higher in-store sales, developing positive brand associations, and creating long-term customer value.

Brands need to begin modeling more of their recruitment budgets in the same way they model their marketing and sales budgets: with an eye on revenue growth while utilizing well known digital tactics.

Exploring Search, Display and Social for Holiday Recruitment

Retail recruiters should consider allocating more budget to digital channels traditionally occupied by marketing teams. Much like consumers go online to find products and services, job seekers can be found through channels like search engines, social media channels and display.

When performing searches like “retail jobs near me” or “part time jobs in 08540”, nearly all the listings are dominated by third-party career portals. Clearly, this is a missed opportunity for retailers to directly attract local talent.

Instead of relying on third-party career portals, retailers can create geo-targeted ads within 5-10 miles of their brick and mortar locations, sending talent directly to retailers’ careers sites, rather than funneling them through the countless other job listing sites that also highlight competitors’ open roles.

Retargeting is another digital marketing tactic retailers can use to enhance recruiting. For example, retailers can develop retargeting campaigns based on job candidates that have visited their careers pages in the past 3-6 months. Reaching people who have already shown interest with display ads across the web can push talent back to a brand’s talent pipeline. To expand reach and get even more qualified applicants, retailers can export  lists of all the email addresses of past job applicants and incorporate them into retargeting campaigns.

What about social media? LinkedIn may be the obvious choice  when it comes to professional social networking, but Facebook can also be a valuable source of acquiring seasonal and part-time retail talent. Building on the strategy used with retargeting, uploading a list of existing job applicants, retargeting career page visitors, and developing lookalike audiences for local job searchers are all ways retailers can bolster recruiting through Facebook Ads.

Time Is of the Essence

There’s an (alleged) old Chinese proverb that states “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” Today’s retailers should take note. There’s a limited amount of time left for retail recruiters to pilot and launch these new digital recruiting programs before the holiday season begins in earnest.

Smart retailers who launch these programs today will be met with low competition, and  will be able to, train and assemble a talented workforce ready to help grow holiday sales.