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Q&A on retail recruitment


Given the right opportunities by the government, the retail industry will be well positioned to create many of the jobs that the UK needs if its economy is to keep moving in the right direction next year.

Retail Gazette caught up with Quest Search & Selection retail recruitment consultant Samantha Silva to find out how the market has performed this year, what is in store for the sector in the 12 months ahead and what makes a good candidate.

Which retail sectors have been the busiest for recruitment in the last 12 months?

The busiest is the e-commerce division and the creation of new roles within this sector. These are growing areas for those businesses that have opened stores and are now looking at offering multichannel services.

Is there a typical route into retail operations employment?

People in the industry have usually fallen into retail, and often started their careers stacking shelves before getting the bug and deciding to work their way up the ladder internally. There are also graduate schemes out there for the bigger retailers but there are not as many programmes for these as there are for head office roles.

What do you look for when recruiting retail HR staff?

People with a track record of success within retail HR roles will always be sought after. The ability to be open-minded and adapt to new environments is also a key skill if they are successfully going to convey information to staff.

What other key skills are needed to be successful in retail HR?

An understanding of the retail trade and how to handle such a fast-paced environment is important because HR staff must be able to show empathy. All HR staff should have had regular exposure to resourcing, knowledge of employee relations and commercial acumen, as well as planning and prioritisation skills. It also helps to be able to translate data and be analytical.

What makes a strong retail operations candidate?

Retail Operations has a lot to do with using people skills, managing processes and leading teams, so it is less qualification-focused than other sectors of the retail industry.

How can they progress in their careers?

They will need to be exposed to dealing with higher turnovers and managing a larger number of people if they are to progress in the field and reach more senior roles. Once here, there is always the chance for more secondment work at head office level, which can enhance career prospects.

What are your predictions for the 2011 retail recruitment market?

2011 will be tougher than this year due to a reduction in consumer confidence and consequent fall in spending levels. The increase in VAT, house prices plummeting, uncertainty in the coalition government and other financial problems - such as the situation in Ireland – will have a negative impact.

What about the coming weeks?

We will still get the traditional ‘new year, new job’ mentality coming to the fore, with the retail jobs market definitely set to pick up at the start of 2011. We are expecting the same growth at Quest Search & Selection.

Sam Silva is a Managing Consultant at Quest Search & Selection. If you are looking for retail jobs at a store and operations level you can contact her on 0208 222 0555.

Questions by Ben Sillitoe

Published on Thursday 02 December by Editorial Assistant

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