The most recent Jobs Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed another improvement in retail trade, with the addition of 104,000 jobs in October and notable increases in clothing, accessories and general merchandise stores. This is encouraging news for an industry hit hard by the pandemic.

Still, as retailers look to rehire staff as the key holiday selling season approaches, tapping into a newly fragmented workforce can mean taking extra care to be candidate-focused in order to help land the right employee and get him or her onboarded quickly.

So much pivoted to digital during the pandemic, and hiring is no different. Taking a digital approach to hiring can put the power of technology and data in place to help retailers re-staff and be better ready for holiday sales. Below are three tips for retailers to keep in mind as Black Friday and Small Business Saturday quickly approach.

  1. Extend your candidate pool. Retailers may find the best talent in places that may not have traditionally been an option. A mid-summer poll conducted by College Reaction/Axios showed that more than 25 percent of college students were not planning to return to campus, which means they may be still at home and looking for work locally. That’s a potentially new and experienced candidate pool to tap into. Using social media along with other digital communication is key to reaching and recruiting this group. Retail websites and delivery apps are also getting higher views as shoppers check for operating hours and inventory before heading out, which means those pages and screens could also be tapped to share open positions.
  2. Consider scheduling flexibility. Data analysis from Equifax suggests that for hourly workers searching for employment, scheduling flexibility and hours offered are key factors to their decision making. A (pre-pandemic) study of pre-employment data for a large national restaurant chain found that nearly one-quarter of its new hires were concurrently holding another job. That’s significantly above the January 2020 national average of 5.1 percent, as tracked by the BLS. Even though the study was in the restaurant industry, it holds similar value for retailers. Such information can be confirmed through pre-employment verifications and is invaluable for hiring managers to help guide conversations around scheduling needs in the hopes of attracting the best candidates and increasing retention by offering a workable schedule. With schools, child care and eldercare still relatively uncertain, schedule flexibility may be a more critical factor for securing the best candidate.
  3. Make onboarding mobile. Offering candidates the opportunity to complete some of the required paperwork ahead of their start date — and even from their mobile device — could provide a better onboarding experience and allows managers to focus on selling, not paperwork. For example, electronic solutions for completing Form I-9 and E-Verify are available by subscription to employers of all sizes and offer digital completion for both employers and employees as well as storage and reporting.

With millions of individuals hoping to get back to work, balancing candidate needs with an eye towards quality hires and improved longevity is a critical consideration. With so much change and continuing uncertainty, using data and technology to help recruit and onboard candidates, retailers can work through this unusual time and help get the best employees on their front lines to help support their businesses on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and throughout the critical holiday sales season.