We all want Superstars working on our team. But star-spotting isn’t necessarily a skill we come by easily.

So, how can we give ourselves the best chance at hiring the best retail associates for our stores and our business?

Here are some tips for doing exactly that!

You may or may not have gone through the exercise of developing a “customer persona”, a profile of your typical/ideal customer – demographics, habits, patterns, needs, expectations, etc.  If you haven’t it’s a helpful practice.

Why not go through this exercise when you’re hiring too?

This brings us to Tip #1- Create a profile of your desired candidate.  

The first place to look for characteristics of this profile are to your best performing, most loved, highly coveted retail staff members, those who you and your customers would be sad to see go.

What are they like? What skills and experience do they have? What is different from them and other employees, or other people in general? What puts them in the “superstar” category?

Their skills, natural tendencies, age, personalities, approaches, education, ways of dealing with other team members, interests, and their abilities to connect with customers are what you want to replicate in a new employee. So, be clear on what those are so you can recognise them when you see them during the interview and when you don’t.

Tip #2 – Ask employees for referrals.

This could be friends, relatives, former employees, or even customers. You could even go as far as to motivate your current employees to help you recruit. You can incentivise your staff to help you recruit more employees, paying them a finder’s fee for any successful hires that stay on for a certain period of time. Your employees know the job. And, people tend to know other people who are just like them. So, it makes sense to go to those who have already proven they have the skills and personalities you’re looking for. And, there’s another bonus from this approach.  It  provides another level of screening as your existing employees don’t want to recommend a dud. And, the recommendees feel somewhat obligated to their friend or family member. So, they’re apt to be much more willing to give it their best effort.

Tip # 3 is, hire from outside your industry and train them the way you want them.  

This way you don’t have to undo bad habits that come with previous experience and other retail operators. You’re not taking your competitor’s leftovers, and you get the chance to train these people in the correct ways, your ways, and understanding your expectations from the very start.  Do you want only those with experience in your type of store? Or should you hire from outside your industry?  The recommended tip might be different than what you think. If they’ve got the basic skills, the personality and the potential, and you’ve got the time to invest in training them, this could be your most successful option, giving you rewards in both the short and longer terms.

Tip #4 – create a clear job description for the role.  

The job description doesn’t have to be too complicated or long but it should spell out the variety of duties the person will need to complete in your store. It should state clearly the reporting relationships, their rate of pay and also outline the key characteristics, skills and experience that you identified when creating the desired profile.  It may also outline the number of hours that are expected to be worked while in the role. This leads us to the next tip.

Tip #5 – Give fewer employees more hours, rather than more employees, fewer hours.

This may seem to fly in the face of risk reduction thinking, you may have always thought that more is better, but read on.

If you find the right person who performs well in their job, you’ll want them working more hours. And if you don’t, why would you keep them on at all?  Also, a person working only a few hours each week, will usually take far longer to establish a real connection with their role, their fellow team members, the customers, and you. Their product knowledge, process understanding and confidence in their abilities takes longer too. We know that employees who are more engaged and connected are usually happier and more productive and we all want that! So, consider giving fewer people more hours, rather than more people fewer hours.

Tip #6 – Spread the net far and wide — go multi-channel in your recruiting efforts.

Gone are the days of just using job boards or employee referrals. Today you should use all the tools at your disposal. Instore advertising, electronic job boards, local schools, TAFEs and UNIs, your website or e-commerce site, if you have one (if you don’t – we can help!), and as many social media channels as you can.

LinkedIn pops immediately to mind for recruiting, but don’t overlook the reach of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat as effective platforms for finding, vetting and contacting potential candidates.  Each platform has a slightly different core demographic makeup. For example, the overwhelming majority of Pinterest users are female, Facebook operates in over 100 languages, its users skew older than Instagrammers and are almost evenly split between male and female. Instagram’s biggest group of users falls into the 18 – 29 age category and Snapchat where approximately 70% of their users are female, and about 45% of snapchat users are between 18 and 24.

Finding potential candidates, while important, is only part of the job. Interviewing and assessing their fit is the other.

Check out Tips for Hiring Top Retail Talent – Stage 2 –A Guide to Interviewing and Assessing Candidates where we continue the spotlight on talent.

Did you find anything particularly helpful? Was there something we missed?

Tell us about your top tip for finding the right retail candidates by adding it to the comments section…

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