New Ways of Recruiting for Retail

New Ways of Recruiting for Retail
By Tony Brookes, Sales Director, Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software
Recruitment can be a challenge for those involved in the retail sector, whether for customer-facing, administrative, or management staff. Increasingly retail organisations are turning to a relatively new technology – online recruitment systems – to make the process both more effective and much faster. Such systems can help retailers not only to recruit the right level and type of staff but also to ensure they comply with policies and production of reports.
High Volumes of Applications
Many retail organisations have a high volume of applications which can be very time-consuming to wade through. Online recruitment systems can provide features such as pre-set ‘killer questions’ that help filter out unsuitable candidates who do not meet the minimum criteria. To ensure a high quality of candidates, testing modules allow hiring managers to see how candidates’ skills match the requirement of the job in question and then produce a shortlist based on results. Psychometric testing, another feature of these systems, can help ensure candidates are a good match for the culture of the business.
Aldi Stores is one of many retailers now turning to online recruitment systems to help them improve their recruitment processes. Now Britain’s sixth largest supermarket , Aldi is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK. Over 70 new stores will be opened in 2015 and Aldi is looking to hire more than 6,000 staff this year.
To support the company’s growth, Aldi recently established the Aldi Academy as a centre of national excellence for recruitment and training, replacing a previously decentralised and regionally-operated recruitment process.
Moving to a standardised central approach to recruitment was an important step to ensure that the company could meet its ever growing requirements. It was also essential that the new academy was operationally efficient, didn’t significantly increase overhead costs and allowed Hiring Managers to retain ownership and to continue to manage the recruitment process for themselves.
At the outset of the project, the Aldi Academy looked at a number of different aspects of the recruitment process, broken down in to three work streams:
• Create a candidate marketing and attraction process to promote Aldi as an employer of choice
• Build a competency framework to identify and define Aldi’s essential and desirable selection criteria
• Implement an integrated Applicant Tracking System to manage, automate and streamline the recruitment process

Each stream was managed by a separate supplier, each a specialist in their own area and led by the Aldi Academy.
Aldi chose Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software as its technology partner to implement its Best-in-Class Applicant Tracking System. Vacancy Filler was chosen for its ease of use and its guided candidate shortlisting functionality whereby candidates can be scored by the Hiring Manager against essential and desirable criteria ensuring a uniform process.
Ruth Doyle, Regional Managing Director at Aldi Stores UK said, “The Vacancy Filler system has improved the quality and frequency of candidate engagement and provided us with a consistent and repeatable process across all of our eight UK regions. It will also deliver valuable management information to support our expansion programme.”
The recruitment process project was broken down into two sections – the Candidate Journey and the Hiring Manager Journey.
For the Candidate Journey part of the ‘candidate marketing and attraction’ work stream, the Aldi careers website was totally revamped. It promotes Aldi as a first class employer and acts as the first stage of filtering by telling candidates what would be expected of them should they be successful. If the candidate wishes to apply, then they pass through the system’s Intelligent Screening Questions and Situational Judgement Testing stages to filter out unsuitable candidates before being invited to complete an application form. This was one of the key design principles for the project, as much time was previously wasted by having to sift through large numbers of unsuitable candidates.
The Candidate journey is tailored according to the role. Candidates that successfully complete the candidate journey then go through an extra stage of filtering, to pre-screen candidates. One of those pre-screening options is to invite candidates to conduct a video interview in their own time, the results of which can be viewed within the system.
After screening, the candidate is automatically routed to the Hiring Manager where the candidate will step through each stage of the process prior to hire. The software guides the Hiring Manager and the candidate through each stage of the process, automatically notifying the candidate if they whether or not they were successful by inviting them for assessment using the system’s Event Management functionality. The Hiring Manager, using a “checklist”, scores candidates following assessment to ensure consistency across the process. At the point of hire, the system generates a Conditional Contract of Employment and if accepted electronically, will go onto capture the New Starter information.
Ruth Doyle added, “We have been able to take a more holistic approach to our recruitment which now allows us to forward-plan our people requirements more effectively for the next 12 months. This highlights any action we need to take to fulfil those requirements.”
The implementation and rollout commenced in September 2014 to coincide with the seasonal graduate intake. The system has now processed in excess of 1.5 million candidates in a nine month period from September 2014, for area manager and store roles.

Currently the system has approximately 350 users, the majority of whom are accessing the system and moving candidates through the process using iPads. Technical support is provided by Vacancy Filler for the Aldi users as well as for the candidates themselves.

The new breed of online recruitment systems help companies not only to recruit more strategically, efficiently and cost-effectively, with less reliance on advertising and recruitment agencies, but also assists with planning long-term recruitment strategies. With recruitment likely to remain a constant challenge for this sector, it is not surprising that technologies and methods that can help recruit the right staff efficiently and cost-effectively are increasingly being adopted. Together with a focus on ensuring that the recruitment strategy goes hand in hand with the organisational strategy, retailers will hopefully find this difficult issue becoming somewhat easier in the future.