We don’t know if it’s the pandemic, the economy, the great resignation or that Gen-Z just isn’t vibing with customer service, but volume hiring for retail is harder than ever. Retailers are finding it trickier to source great candidates – or fill positions at all. Our data has found average retail applications have fallen by a startling 75% in the past 2 years.

You probably can’t reverse global trends, but you can change the way you source staff for retail roles. It means searching in the right places, using the right tactics and making sure your application process isn’t putting people off. 

Here’s the lowdown:

Are you looking for candidates in all the wrong places? 

Are you sourcing retail candidates and higher-level roles in the same way? That could be a big part of your problem. Candidates for customer-facing retail positions are more likely to be younger and less established in their careers – so they’re probably not scrolling LinkedIn or checking out job sites on a daily basis. 

Here’s what to try instead: 

Turn customers into candidates 

Want to find staff members who love your brand? Advertise in your stores and let people apply there, too. Shoppers already know and like your brand, so they’re already meeting at least one of your hiring criteria.  

How: use an old-school sign in the window (with a new-school QR code linking to your application page) or set up a dedicated kiosk in-store where would-be candidates can apply direct in Weirdly.  

Social outreach 

Social can be an effective way to spread the word about job opportunities. Just make sure you pick the right channels. Facebook is out, TikTok and Insta are in. 

How: post new positions on your social pages, and think about using a special layout or colour for job listings to make them stand out. Make sure the posts link to the application page to make it extra easy.

Make a night of it 

Hiring events can be an effective way to connect with a big group of younger candidates – especially if you’re looking for short-term seasonal workers. Instead of a whole lot of one-on-one interviews, hold an ‘open house’ style event where anyone is welcome. Chat with potential candidates, hand out application info and get them to apply on tablets there and then.

How: promote your event on social and in-store and provide snacks or swag to incentivise attendance – there’s nothing like free pizza or a branded T-shirt to bring in young people.

Friendship is (recruitment) magic  

Referrals aren’t just for professional roles. If you have a group of keen young candidates, why not ask whether they can bring friends with them? Referrals can help you expand your candidate pool quickly and find people with similar values and skill sets. 

How: include a referral section in your application process – Weirdly’s ‘refer a friend’ feature makes it super quick and easy. 

Keep candidates on the hook 

As with most retailers, you’ll probably have cyclical hiring needs – but candidates will likely get in touch throughout the year, not just in the lead-up to peak. Building a talent community keeps you in touch with potential candidates, even if there’s not a role for them right now. When you do need new staff, you have an instant, curated pool waiting for you. 

How: save candidate info and skills assessment results, and filter by location, availability and skillset when you need new staff. Weirdly’s talent community platform basically does it all for you. 

Pare down your application process 

You know what turns candidates off? A lengthy, difficult application process that doesn’t really relate to the job. Why ask candidates for formal cover letters, CVs and multiple references when they’re applying for a casual, part-time retail role?

Simplifying your application process makes things easier for candidates – and it doesn’t hurt on your end, either. 

Cut CVs

Do you really need to see a resume, or is it just a relic of the recruitment past? If you can cut this time-consuming (and, frankly, not that helpful) part of the process, you’ll have fewer candidates dipping out because they’re intimidated or just can’t be bothered. 

Pre-screen with fun assessments 

Using skills or values assessments to pre-screen candidates gives you an instant longlist based on the best fit with your requirements. If you make them fun and easy, like Weirdly’s, you’re also more likely to get people finishing the process. 

Don’t ghost your candidates 

People don’t want to wait months to hear back from a potential employer – or worse, apply and then never hear anything. By cutting parts of your application process and using automated communication tools, you make it quick, easy and positive for potential employees. Better yet, automatically nudging candidates with SMS will boost your completion rates. 

Revamp your retail recruitment (with Weirdly’s help) 

Is it a major struggle to find staff for your retail business? We’ve got the tools to make it simpler, quicker and more effective for you and your candidates. No more slogging through CVs or phoning hundreds of candidates – Weirdly takes all the guesswork (and busywork) out of the process. 

See Weirdly in action.