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Recruiting Retail Employees for the Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like a strong season for retailers. Although the traditional holiday shopping season – typically between Thanksgiving and Christmas – has six fewer days this year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts holiday retail sales during November and December will increase by about 4% compared to 2018, totaling approximately $730 billion. Despite a downturn in manufacturing and slowing in overall economic growth, the U.S. consumer remains resilient due to record-low unemployment, wages growing faster than inflation, a strong stock market, and healthy consumer confidence.

Holiday recruiting isn’t limited to retail employees

This season, the story is not just how much Americans shop; instead, it’s simply about how they shop. Retailers like Amazon continue to reengineer the customer experience by offering free one-day shipping on millions of items. According to the NRF’s Annual October Holiday Consumer survey, 56% of Americans plan to shop online this season, and 73% plan to use their smartphone or tablet to make a purchase. With technology assuming a greater role in retail as much as any other industry, it’s no surprise that web developers have seen the fastest growth in job openings this year.

How retailers face new recruitment challenges with tech hires

Retailers are applying what they’ve learned about consumers to their job candidates through recruitment software such as texting and AI-powered chatbots. This helps employers fill open positions in proportion to their latest sales forecasts, but many candidates see benefits as well. According to an iCIMS survey, 86% of Americans agree that it’s beneficial to receive text messages during the job application process.

iCIMS data confirms that employers are ramping up in anticipation of the holiday season, with a 13% increase in retail job openings through October of this year, as well as a 7% increase in new hires, with more expected in November and December. In addition to staffing stores and traditional retail positions, companies are strengthening their tech workforce to ensure they provide a seamless online shopping experience.

Statistics about recruiting retail employees for part-time and full-time roles during the holiday season.

Retail hiring for the 2019 holiday season is higher than 2018 for both part-time and full-time workers.

How to recruit retail employees for the holiday season

To meet consumers’ anticipated holiday shopping demands, here are a few tips for employers:

  • Open jobs earlier. There are not a lot of workers looking for jobs at this time of year, which makes the competition for employees even tougher. Next year, start conversations for holiday staffing needs earlier and consider posting jobs in the summer to drive a larger pool of applicants.
  • Take a mobile-first approach. Just as consumers are shopping online, job seekers are searching for jobs on their phones and tablets. The job search and application process should be mobile-optimized and mobile-friendly, otherwise candidates will drop off and focus on other opportunities.
  • Make it fast and convenient. Job seekers know that they have options. They don’t want to be bothered by a bad experience. Increase your applicant pool by trimming down the application to include only the criteria that you need and leverage text to communicate with candidates through their preferred method. Text messaging can be used to answer questions, provide reminders and updates on their resumes, as well as to kick off an application.
  • Make it even faster and more convenient. Make the case for AI-powered tools like chatbots that are available 24/7 to answer questions more quickly and efficiently and either advance candidates to the next step or weed out unqualified ones.
  • Enhance your offerings. Given the robust labor market, employers need to enhance the pay and benefits offered to seasonal employees. How does your compensation compare to other competitors who are recruiting retail employees for the holiday season?
  • Don’t leave your seasonal workers out in the cold. The 2019 holiday season will be over before we know it, but it won’t be too long before the next wave of hiring begins. Use recruitment marketing software, such as career sites and a candidate relationship management solution, to continue communicating with previous seasonal employees. This will keep them engaged and encourage them to apply to new positions when they become available.

Want to learn more about the state of retail recruitment for the 2019 holiday season? Download and share our latest infographic, ‘Tis the Season for Retail Holiday Hiring.


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