What’s the Biggest Pain Point in Retail Recruitment? Answer: Scale

The best talent acquisition strategy for retailers in uncertain times means scaling, defined as hiring just the right number of the right people at the right time. Not too many… and not too few.

It’s always tricky to predict the future with any degree of accuracy. So how will the economy impact retail hiring in the coming months? We don’t claim to have the answer… but we strongly suggest that, whether you are preparing for growth or a downturn, the surest recruitment strategy is to prepare for what you expect and for what you don’t. 

To get ready, take a page from Goldilocks and focus on getting retail recruitment “just right.”  Hiring too many or too few people could upset the bears in the executive suite and leave you eating a cold bowl of porridge. In these ambiguous times, getting recruitment right requires your ability to “scale.”

Simply put, retailers need optimal flexibility to accelerate (or decelerate) the hiring of quality employees, where they need them, and when. For retailers, it’s critical to hire the right number of people with the right skills—and, crucially, at the right time. Given the extreme seasonality of the industry, timing must be front and center in any recruitment strategy. This is especially true for holiday hiring.

The business case for scale is clear
Scaling recruitment provides significant competitive advantages. Just-in-time hiring can, for instance, improve profits for retailers making decisions about when to onboard seasonal employees. Likewise, retailers entering new markets or building ecommerce capabilities can jumpstart efforts through a one-time candidate sourcing campaign.

In all these scenarios, internal recruiters may not have the talent sourcing bandwidth or the skills to get the job done. Additionally, in uncertain times, adding internal headcount to the recruiting function or HR is not viable. Instead, some retailers will turn to contract recruiters as needed. While contractors might get the job done just fine, recruiting them, equipping them with social media recruitment tools, and project-managing them can be time-consuming and expensive.

RPO as a viable option
Another alternative source for a flexible approach is to partner with a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider. When scale is a top priority, a customized RPO offers an efficient, variable cost process for accelerated sourcing and screening using best-in-class recruitment tools and capable, experienced recruiters who understand employer branding. Unlike a few years ago when behemoth RPOs were the name of the game, a newer generation of providers can now work with mid-market businesses that aren’t yet ready to totally outsource their entire recruitment function.

The best of these flexible RPO providers will offer access to retail recruitment expertise, up-to-the-minute digital recruitment tools, sophisticated approaches to building talent pools, and a skilled RPO team that can essentially be turned on/off as needs ebb and flow.

As a bonus, a well-executed RPO will also offer quality and speed hand-in-hand with scale. Leveraging sourcing and recruiting infrastructure across multiple clients, an RPO provider can offer substantial flexibility, as well as specialization across skill sets and geographies in ways that typical internal teams or independent contractors can’t.

Solutions that scale
Optimism… or pessimism? Volatility… or predictability? Growth… or downturn? No matter where you are on this spectrum, it would be smart to consider working with a talent acquisition partner offering solutions that you can scale—especially those that are flexible and easily integrated into your organization’s overall talent strategy to hire the retail talent you need, when you need it.