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The Ultimate Guide to Sourcing Talent

Talent. Every company’s looking for it. And once they find it, every company wants to keep hold of it. But hiring talent isn’t easy. It’s not as if you can simply open a fresh can of it when the well starts to run a bit dry.

Hiring talent in retail is tough. It’s competitive. And as we’re about to discover, there’s a lot more to it than simply hiring.

What is talent acquisition?

You might feel that ‘talent acquisition’ is just a grander way of saying ‘hiring staff’. We don’t see it that way, and nor do most of the retailers we speak to.

Recruitment is a part of talent acquisition. But talent sourcing is more than recruitment. It’s playing the long game and building a strategy that feeds actions across the business, so you attract people who are a right fit for the company and its values, and create an environment where they want to stay.

What is a talent sourcing strategy?

A talent sourcing strategy isn’t just about finding top talent; it’s about putting the prep work in place to create a company where talent can grow, flourish and feel happy.

A talent sourcing strategy ensures you know who you want to attract and puts the building blocks in place to ensure your business is attractive to those people. Then, the right strategy helps you keep them.

Why does a talent sourcing strategy matter?

Candidate sourcing takes effort. It costs money. And the more time your HR or in-house talent sourcing team spends on recruiting talent simply to fuel the churn of leavers, the more it feels like running to stand still.

Done right, a talent sourcing strategy means that more of the quality candidates you attract stay with the business. That means they’re better able to have the impact you hoped they would have. Some will rise to the very top ranks of the organisation. But all will help to improve your brand, increase its diversity, and reduce the overall cost and hassle of hiring.

What are companies doing to attract talent? 

How do you create a talent sourcing strategy that’s right for you? Here are some of the steps recruiters are taking to help them in hiring talent.

  1. Building the employee value proposition

    At the heart of a talent acquisition strategy is an understanding of what makes your business a great place to work and, crucially, an ability to articulate it. This is about more than telling prospective employees about your values; it’s about showing them how they’ll be valued.
    You do this through your employee value proposition (EVP), which can give candidates a comprehensive understanding of what it’s like to be part of your organisation.
    As we’ll see, it’s also important that whatever picture you paint is authentic and would be echoed by staff already within the organisation, because an EVP applies to everyone, not just new starters.
    If you haven’t yet developed your EVP, the following could all form elements of it.

  2. Understanding what talent wants and delivering it

    Hiring talent isn’t a one-way process. As much as you are looking for the right candidate skills, experiences and ways of working, so the candidate is looking for employers that tick certain boxes.
    Details vary by demographic, but Gen Z talent, for example, typically places as much emphasis on work/life balance, sustainability and diversity as salary and perks.
    It’s important, therefore, not just to focus on a perk package loaded with goodies, but to ensure that, from the ground up, your business fits the world view of the people you’re aiming to recruit.  

  3. Going big with employee referrals

    Talent recruited via an employee referral scheme is more likely to remain loyal. True, it may not bring in sufficient numbers to meet all your candidate sourcing needs, but the more attractive you can make the referral rewards for existing staff, the more likely you are to make this a significant recruitment route.

  4. Painting a picture of progression

    If you’ve been a talent recruiter for any length of time, you’ve probably asked the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’.
    When building a talent sourcing strategy, flip that round and consider what development and progression opportunities you would expect for someone joining the business now. This isn’t about promising something you can’t deliver. Even the most optimistic retailer probably couldn’t commit to guaranteeing area manager positions in five years, for example.
    But you could showcase how others you’ve hired as part of your talent acquisition programme have fared. It’s another example of laying the groundwork so that when a candidate looks to see if you’re the right employer for them, they can see examples of the sort of training, development and progression they might benefit from. 

  5. Making the process simpler

    We don’t mean simpler as in ‘easy’. The recruitment process should be challenging. It should give you a rounded view of candidates’ skills and capabilities and that can take time and multiple stages and sifts.
    But if part of your EVP is about the way you show respect, about wellbeing and the way you support your people, that should bleed through into the way you recruit.
    That means streamlining the process as much as you can, keeping clear lines of communication throughout, helping diverse candidates to deliver their best (for example, by adapting the traditional application form and interview route) and managing candidate expectations.
    Technology can be important here, whether it’s helping you automate communications or helping you harness candidate data more effectively.

  6. Offering a good deal

    The salary and perks package may not be all candidates are concerned about. It may not even be top of the wish list. But the more flexible and comprehensive a candidate offer can be, the more likely it is to attract interest.

  7. Being a cultural fit

    A major challenge in recruitment is that no matter how good the benefits package, it’s often just a hygiene factor: handy for attracting interest and essential in a ‘getting the basics’ right sort of way, but not a reason for candidates to stay.
    So what will make the difference when hiring talent in retail?
    ‘Cultural fit’ is the smorgasbord of values, traits, beliefs and ways of working that make a candidate feel as though they’ve found they’re home. As Forbes notes, cultural fit is the essential factor for talent retention.
    Culture is sometimes difficult to pin down, but you can do a lot of the spadework in painting a picture of your culture in your communications. Whether it’s your CSR or D&I pages on your website, a ‘what it’s like to work here’ section of the site or the language you use on your social media feeds, every element builds to create an understanding of your culture — and that can be crucial in encouraging candidates to apply to join you.
    Then, the culture they actually find when they start work can be pivotal in encouraging them to stay.

Candidate sourcing with Zachary Daniels

For more than a decade, we’ve championed cultural fit above all else in our recruitment work for clients. So if you need a little help hiring talent in retail, we know where it is, and we know how to increase the chances that talent will stay loyal. 

Talk to us now about your talent sourcing.

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