Every retail business acknowledges that hiring good Christmas casuals is challenging – but why is this? It comes down to the fact that a good retail assistant can be absolutely anybody from a high school student with no prior job history to a person who’s already had a successful career going into retirement. The talent pool is so varied. This is problematic as hirers are generally unclear on defining what a good candidate looks like. Without a clear benchmark to compare candidates, it is incredibly difficult to make informed hiring decisions. This uncertainty combined with the overwhelming number of applications received and the limited time to hire makes the recruitment process chaotic and leads to costly and bad hires.

So what can hirers do? 

There are three key steps retailers can implement to make smarter hiring decisions.

Recognise the value of the role

Firstly, its essential to recognise the impact that a casual team member will have on the business over the holiday season. While they may be at the lowest level of the business, they will have a direct impact on the lifetime value of a customer. Your company brand can be destroyed in seconds with one bad customer service experience. This is especially important at such a critical key sales period. Hirers need to recognise how important these roles are in driving their fiscal objectives and treat the recruitment process with just as much consideration as they would when hiring for a higher level position.

Do a job analysis to clarify ideal person attributes

Without understanding the business and its culture, it will be impossible to identify who the ideal candidate will be. Do a job analysis which considers the company culture and the work environment as well as the characteristics of their top performing team members. Look at existing employees who thrive and perform really well in the workplace. What traits and motivations do they share? Use these common characteristics to create a benchmark of what good looks like – the ideal candidate. It’s essential to note this will be different for every business. For example, the culture of a store selling luxury goods is likely to be different to one selling discount items. The customer and workplace is likely to be different, so hiring must consider this. Candidates will often not have retail experience so it is more important to hire people who align with the company culture and exhibit the right characteristics relative to your benchmark.

Hire against a key selection criteria with the help of software solutions

Once you have the criteria for the ideal casual retail employee, use this to screen and shortlist candidates. This is where software solutions can be of great value. A lot of the time, hirers will be inundated with applications and the manual screening process becomes a lucky draw with the first good few CV’s read being chosen. This rules out plenty of good candidates who don’t even get looked at. There are software programs that can effectively and efficiently do this screening process for you, removing the cognitive bias by finding and ranking the top candidates through key selection criteria. The smartest technology now incorporates attribute assessments without candidates even realising it. This reduces time spent screening and ensures only the best candidates are making it through to the interview process. More time can then be spent on interviews, allowing hirers to gain valuable face-time to have a better understanding of who they are bringing into the organisation.

A smarter approach

By implementing the above three steps, businesses can have confidence they are making smarter hires with a standardised approach. Through doing a job analysis and assessing every candidate against the same key selection criteria at both the screening and interview stage, every candidate is given a fair chance and no talent that is the right fit is overlooked. Combined with smart technology solutions which cut out the manual grunt work, hirers can ensure they are setting themselves up for the best success with new hires. The biggest positives are that the new high performing Christmas casuals will contribute to customer loyalty and lesson the cost of re-hiring and re-training.

Rudy Crous is CEO and co-founder of Shortlyster