Having recruited hundreds of retail staff over the years, (I now teach others how to do so), as well as handled the issues that are generated by poor selection and the performance management process to maintain motivation and enthusiasm, I can tell you there is a strong need for both skill and attitude but not necessarily industry experience…


No matter how much we would like to think that we can train someone how to sell, so long as they have great attitude, you are either a ‘born salesperson’ or you are not. We can give them the tools, e.g. sales training, but they are either good at using those tools or they aren’t. I couldn’t build a house for love nor money.


Skill however, is not necessarily derived from previous experience, nor is it always easy to identify in a resume. The trick is to not fall into the trap of only hiring people with experience in the exact same industry, allow applicants from similar industries to apply as well, hospitality for example. I have met many an experienced salesperson who has been doing it for a long time, but the truth is they have been doing it WRONG the whole time!


I remember hiring one young man to sell kitchen appliances, when his previous role was a used car salesperson. He turned out to be one of the best salespeople ever and customers loved him! Other applicants, some with many years of retail experience on paper, just didn’t impress me in the interview room as "I would buy from this person".


Avoid using generic job role descriptions and job advertisements.


First get it clear in your mind as to what you want a particular role to do and what type of personality is best suited to doing so, then ‘sculpt’ your advertisement around that. Do they need to be a ‘gun’, (and can you afford one), or a steady performer that is also capable of fitting into a team? Make sure you promote what you actually need, not what you think you should.


Resumes from an online source are okay when used in conjunction with a recruitment agency, who can ‘vet’ on your behalf, but otherwise they can be all but useless, simply because they are usually done via a template, making everyone look the same and only leaving experience as a defining point. Still use them to get the reach but also ask applicants to physically bring their resume to the store, which not only defines whether they are keen or not but also gives you a chance to ‘eyeball’ them and chat casually, outside of an interview environment. This will give you a feel for their persona and whether they would be a ‘good fit’, even before you start to read their resume.


When reading the resume look beyond experience only, things like how many jobs have they gone through in a short time frame and whether there has been any progression from their starting role. I have a list of things I check for, especially when hiring youth with limited experience altogether.


One thing that has been proven to be highly effective is the use of personality profiles BUT, and this is important, ONLY once you have clearly defined the role and personality needed to perform that role. Otherwise you are testing people against a mythical being and not against a genuine need.


I could talk for hours on this subject, as I now have the best process for selecting staff, (and just as importantly keeping them and getting the best out of them), down to a fine art. What I will tell you is that lazy methods, such as using generic job descriptions and job advertisements, are very likely to be ineffective and can not only lead to good candidates being overlooked but can also cost an employer literally tens of thousands when they hire a mistake. Therefore there is a whole process that needs to be followed if you want to get genuine results and that process need not be complicated, just carefully thought through.


Visit our recruiting page on our website http://www.retailrescue.com.au/recruiting.html if you are interested in recruiting and profiling for retailers.


The best of me to you,


Mr Business