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How to Recruit Retail Staff Who Work Like Professionals


Employment in retail is very demanding but has not achieved the kind of prestige it deserves. Hiring from the pool of applicants for retail jobs is usually pretty unselective. Check out our philosophy. What kinds of people would be best qualified for working in retail? How should you recruit them? Retail is a very high turnover sector of business, partly because people enter these jobs with very short-term expectations and ambitions, and partly because the wrong people get hired. A recent survey (2016) by the Hay Group reported a median turnover rate of 65 percent for hourly retail employees. When you consider that each retail employee leaves a hole, a scheduling hole and a functioning hole which costs over $3,000, this is a serious issue.

Retail is one of the great career starters. Most people in the workforce have had some retail experience as they entered employment. There is a world of growth potential in the retail sector. Yet many people want to leave the sector as soon as possible and fail to see the opportunities. Many skill sets and ambitions can be fulfilled along the career paths within the retail sector. Visual merchandising, design, merchandising, buying, marketing, public relations, human resources, and importing/exporting are all along pathways that pass through retail.

Who are the best retail employees?

People skills. The attitude toward people of retail employees is one of the most important selectors. Retail employees who serve the public on the floor of your business will certainly be the ones who will meet the most people. They have to have a strong desire to please people and make sure everyone they meet in the store finds what they need and want. Traits related to more intellectual or money-related goals are nowhere near as important as a basic desire to make people happy. Honesty, tact, patience, personal maturity, are all human interactional skills that are more important in retail than, perhaps in other kinds of sales.

Quick learning. The retail environment is a constantly changing one, where new products are quickly brought on the floor and new skills have to be quickly acquired. A retail employee must learn valuable skills usefully on the job quickly. The skill of closing sales is central. Organizing products or correctly repairing product arrangement, quickly folding clothes, using the complex of new retail software, point of sale, inventory management software and more. The best retail employees will have a sharp memory for inventory and for faces. They need to memorize quickly on the go. The ability to carry on several functions at once is essential in a complex and fast-moving retail environment.

Physical abilities. Retail employees are often unable to sit down for periods of hours during fast-moving shifts. Their responsibilities often involve acts of physical exertion in moving or retrieving merchandise. They may have to use ladders or powered mechanical movers. Most of the time, they must be on their feet and moving to carry out a range of functions.

Finding the right and wrong retail employees.

When you hire someone for retail you should keep the demands of the job in mind and look for people who have the potential to develop good retail traits. Keeping in mind the existing training and the real timelines for development. The question for the hiring manager is: 

With our available training, can this person develop the attitudes and skills needed for this job?

When you ask the applicant about their previous experience look for evidence that they have good people skills and attitudes, that they learn quickly, and that they have good physical stamina. Of course, your interview should include a question about prior experience. However, keep in mind that most people have had some retail experience, many have had a lot of retail experience moving from job to job. That, in itself, may not qualify them.

San Diego Pro Staffing, Inc. dba Boutique Recruiting adds a personalized touch to job placements by taking the time to meet with both candidates and hiring companies to find the candidate that fits in best with the company’s culture. Think of us as an extension of your recruiting department. Please contact us to learn more.