Updated: Sep 8
The phrase “war for talent” was first coined in 1997 by Steven Hankin of McKinsey. In their 2001 book The War for Talent, authors Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod, all also of McKinsey, predicted that the make-or-break for firms in the next two decades would be the ability to attract, develop, and retain talent.
Credit: Ulrik Juul Christensen
Spanning 10months, The International Retail Academy has helped thousands of people to level-up their CV's, learn about impactful interview techniques and land amazing roles across the whole spectrum of retail. Everything from store based roles to corporate functions.
There is no role in retail untouched.
I have personally hired and trained the very best retail talent in the industry and some of the best people include Middle Eastern females, mature men and student workers.
You see, despite outdated ideologies, talent does not come in one form, yet we continue to see similar patterns play-out across the same brands.
One of my ex colleagues would only hire male managers - I don't know if he felt intimated by women or unable to lead them, but this needed to be addressed. It wasn't just a few stores either, it was his entire patch. The retailer sold a broad range of clothing and shoes, surely a mix of leaders would benefit teams and customers.
A good friend of mine works in a 'diverse organisation' yet his entire division are white males and it's been this way for years.
Talent sourcing I am no trained expert in, however, I have hired a diverse set of people, grown that talent upwards; 2 or 3 positions higher and retained them through clear, open, uplifting communication. You see, as a self proclaimed happiest retailer on the planet, motivating, inspiring and encouraging others walking this path is actually, very easy.
I believe when you employ great talent, it is your duty to nurture it, little and often.
Easy to say - hard to do.
I know, I've seen it all before!
All the little things really matter - do not underestimate the power of your words. For example:
Thank you for your efforts today
This project was a huge success largely thanks to you
I really value you
You did amazing work today
Your contribution has really moved things along
These positive reinforcements will pay off in retained talent and creating raving fans of the business - more about how you can leverage this later.
Where are the golden nuggets hiding? You know the ones who really make a difference! Sourcing top talent can be a slog. I know - it took me almost 3 months to hire for a Central London location a few years ago. That was tough going!
As we approach a post pandemic life there are millions of people looking for work - retailers that have vanished off the high-street have left a trail of destruction with unemployment.
We saw Arcadia close, Debenhams gone, Thorntons shut down, Gap closing...every store, every function has a story. Each and every single employee has been effected - so if you interview one of these people who have gone through a redundancy, please please treat them with care and respect.
They may not interview perfectly - some are desperate for the job.
Some only have 1 months rent in the bank.
This doesn't mean you are going to give them a job out of guilt or pity, it means you are going to give them time, confidence and belief; if it wasn't the right fit, that is ok.
Explain it, offer real advice, lift them up!
Now, let's get into talent sourcing, finding those matches and even the diamond in the rough!
Everyone knows LinkedIN is a melting pot of business opportunity.
With 740 million members and 3 hires every single minute, anyone looking for work or seeking out talent MUST be active over there.
There are all kinds of search-bar hacks to explore, so that you find those people quickly.
But also, the user must have an optimised profile to be searchable.
Recruiters and talent teams should have a strategy at looking inwards for recruitment solutions too. I've worked at companies that offer a financial reward if your recommendation is hired - but often, this is underused, undervalued and many employees do not even know how to go about doing that.
Nothing a simple 30 minute video training cannot resolve. Easy peasy!
In the delivery of said video, you'll need to state the policy (for example are referrals capped or uncapped), does it apply company wide or just inside of certain functions. Lastly and this is very important, land the 'what's in it for me' in a really engaging and must-have manner! Employees want to know the reward. Leave them with that message.
In your monthly newsletters, talk about it - keep the topic alive and it will thrive.
Another area to look at is the personal branding of your own employees
For example, are your teams active on social platforms?
Are they using business platform LinkedIN to talk about the latest product drops, the grand store opening, the team dinner out?
Marketing falls under every single person in your business - whether you like this or not, it is happening right now. Stories, posts, conversations, facebook groups. But have your teams been trained on personal branding? If not, damage could be afoot and you wouldn't have a clue.
Think about this - every single team member has far more organic reach potential than a company page. Don't believe me?
Check these out:
Virgin has 227,410 followers
Richard Branson has a whopping 19,239,567 followers
Ben Francis (Founder) 190,121
Ultimo Brands International 954
Baroness Michelle Mone OBE (Founder) 197,793
The International Retail Academy 240
Kayleigh Fazan (Founder) 9,890
People buy from people - people buy into people
When they are visible
When they leverage their own personal brands...basically, being themselves!
Imagine if 20% of your workforce consistently posted about your business - in a positive, authentic light. This will be seen by other professionals; potentially your diamond in the rough. People talk.
Gone are the days of reviews and faceless 5 star ratings, commonly they are not trusted as fake reviews are sadly plastered everywhere - however, if someone you know posts about how incredible XYZ is, you probably buy into that; then go shop there or even - look for a job there!
There is an ocean of opportunity out there, in fact the sea is full of fish.
Finding the sharks are a job for an investigative mind, someone with clear peripheral vision, someone who can look externally, internally, up the chain and down below decks.
The war for talent and grabbing top candidates may be a challenge - but if you apply some of these strategies I'm certain you'll be hiring much faster!