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Retail recruiting: How an applicant tracking system can help you overcome high turnover rates

iCIMS Staff
February 23, 2021

The retail industry remains the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., despite job losses early in the Covid-19 pandemic. Job seekers are looking for work, and an applicant tracking system (ATS) can help sort through the best while keeping the most promising new hires on board.

As of early 2021, the retail industry directly employs 32 million Americans, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) counted 4.3 million retail salespersons in the U.S. in 2019. The retail trade lost 2.4 million jobs at the start of the pandemic in early 2020 but regained 2 million of these in time for the December holiday season.

Meanwhile, recruiters are under ongoing pressure to keep recruiting retail personnel due to high turnover.  Retail has the second-highest turnover rate in the job market, according to LinkedIn, which based this finding on data from about half a billion professionals.

Capabilities of ATS that are especially beneficial to retail employers include easy recruitment through social media, availability of artificial intelligence (AI) for pre-screening, and integrated support for job referral programs.

Social media reaches job seekers of all ages

To expand the reach of recruitment efforts while keeping costs in line, many recruiters are turning to social media. This approach is particularly well suited to retail because social media usage is still highest among younger people.

U.S. census data demonstrates that more than half of all retail workers are between 16 and 34. According to a recent study by Pew Research, 90% of Americans aged 19 to 28 now use social media, up from 7% back in 2005.

Young adults are not alone on social media platforms. “Young adults were among the earliest social media adopters and continue to use these sites at high levels, but usage by older adults has increased in recent years,” says Pew Research.

Some 40% of people aged 65 and up now use social media. Across all ages, the number is now 72%. Overall, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn are also very popular.

Recruiters should target job seekers at both ends of this age spectrum for part-time employment, especially during the holiday season, experts say.

Many high school and college students like to work during the holidays to earn extra money, as do seniors who have retired from full-time employment. According to data generated on Google Trends, people generally seek out seasonal retail jobs around late August to early September, and peak hiring takes place from early to mid-November.

ATSs such as iCIMS’ can post job openings to multiple social networks with a single click. iCIMS’ social distribution feature also lets you pre-schedule either single or recurring job posts.

Artificial intelligence for pre-screening

Entry-level jobs for sales associates don’t tend to carry stringent requirements for education or retail-specific experience. For example, in 2018, just 18.1% percent of retail workers had a bachelor’s degree or more, in comparison to 35.2% of all workers, says the U.S. census. With the barrier to entry relatively low, the volume of job applications can be enormous.

Consequently, some ATSs support AI-powered pre-screening. In fact, in a recent global survey by Korn Ferry, 63% of almost 800 HR professionals said AI has already changed how they recruit by automating tasks like applicant screening, candidate sourcing, and interview scheduling.

Companies can use AI to scan resumes for specific kinds of skills, allowing recruiters to spend more time focusing on the most qualified candidates.

iCIMS’ Applicant Tracking System’s AI capabilities work by quickly analyzing data points from applicants, job openings, and third-party data. It’s used not only for matching candidates to jobs but also for automated scheduling and remediating bias in recruiting and hiring.

Pre-recorded video interviews can also be a highly effective approach to pre-screening. These interviews are a great way to measure strong interpersonal skills that don’t show up in resumes.

The iCIMS Talent Cloud includes iCIMS’ Video Interviewing software that lets candidates record and upload a short personal video to describe why they are the best fit for the job.

Employee referral support

Employee referral programs are one of the best pre-screening methods for retail employees. In this type of program, a company encourages its workers to refer qualified people to job openings, usually offering a financial bonus, paid time off, or other incentives.

Time and time again, research shows that referred employees tend to perform well, taking the shortest time to hire and delivering the highest retention rates.

ATSs like the iCIMS Talent Cloud can be used to track these employee referral programs. From dedicated portals in the ATS, employees can view the status of employees they’ve referred, the reward they’ll be getting, and when it will be received.

iCIMS’ Applicant Tracking System

iCIMS Applicant Tracking System is designed to meet your unique needs within the retail industry, allowing you to attract, engage, hire, and advance the right talent. In fact, we’ve worked with Southeastern Grocers, one of the U.S.’s largest supermarket companies, since 2015 to find, hire, and onboard staff.

Interested in learning more about how an ATS can help your organization? Download our Business Case for Focused and Inclusive Applicant Tracking Software

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