How do retailers that are expanding rapidly manage recruiting for stores, asks Liz Morrell

Despite the downturn, some retailers are still expanding rapidly.

US retail giant Best Buy’s imminent UK debut this spring has seen it begin a drive that could see the creation of 8,000 new jobs over the next five years. It has already had 7,000 candidates apply for jobs in the first three stores, each of which will have a five strong management team and 70 to 100 staff.

And outdoor retailer Go Outdoors (below) has just confirmed 30 new stores opening within two years - requiring 150 new retail managers on top of the 50 sales staff employed in each store. Both face the challenge of being businesses that candidates may not know.

With seven stores opening this year alone, Go Outdoors recruitment manager Simon Clayton has the challenge of finding 35 managers in a market where he has no direct competitors. “If people have done big box retailing before then they haven’t done our products, or people that have done our products haven’t done big box retailing,” says Clayton.

Traditional recruitment methods such as job fairs and agencies can help; but on such a scale can prove expensive. Go Outdoors is working with Michael Page Retail among others to help it attract talent. Michael Page regional director Rob Archer. “Historically it’s very easy for retail recruitment companies to think I can fill a lot of jobs here but it needs to be a hybrid approach,” he says.

Retailers’ own websites are an important tool in the search - not only for advertising potential vacancies but also for helping candidates to understand the philosophy and mission of a retailer. Go Outdoors is increasing the functionality on its website to handle such applications. At Best Buy, online is one of the main screening routes for candidates who then go through a further three-stage screening process.

Traditional networking also plays a role. “Good people tend to know good people so for every new store and every new management team that’s a new set of contacts for us,” says Clayton who also uses sites such as LinkedIn and Monster.

Best Buy has been using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to build excitement and camaraderie among staff.

But the very scale of mass recruitment drives can prove tough and needs a dedicated resource, says Archer. “You have to give one person accountability, they have to be given the time and tools to manage a recruitment campaign and that person needs to be the same person for whichever method of contact so the message is consistent. The reality in the retail space is you are going to have volume so it’s about efficient management and making educated decisions quickly and astutely,” he concludes.

Store Recruitment

Use attraction tools such as ads, local PR and even hoardings on your store before opening to explain your brand and philosophy
Have a dedicated resource to manage your campaign
Use traditional methods such as job fairs and supplement them with newer methods such as social networking sites
Use your website as your primary route for applications, ensure it reflects your brand and philosophy as closely as possible and can handle volume applications