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How Your Employer Brand Can Attract Career-Seeking Retail Talent 

The typical Gen Z candidate doesn’t want a job; they want a career. Rather than focusing your recruitment marketing on short-term or seasonal roles, take a page from the playbook of national companies that put their employer brand in front of the recruitment process to highlight how a part-time, entry-level, or seasonal hourly job can be the first experience in a successful career. It is possible to position your company as an attractive place for hourly retail sales associates who want to launch their careers.

Officially the largest generation in the workforce, Generation Z includes people born after 1996 and currently encompasses 32% of the global population and 11% of the workforce. And these numbers are rapidly growing — according to ManpowerGroup, by the end of 2022, the percentage of Gen Zers in the global workforce will be 24%. By 2030, it will hit 30%.

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According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report, 83% of Gen-Zers want to learn skills to perform better in their current role, whether that role is entry-level or more experienced. However, most hourly employees aren’t viewing your job as a lifetime career. Some retail and restaurant franchises caught on to this years ago and have developed recruitment marketing and employer branding around entry-level roles turning into a “jumping off place” for a broader career. 

Positioning Your Retail Roles as the Beginning of a Successful Career

Rather than focusing your recruitment marketing content on short-term or seasonal roles, here are a few examples of national companies that put their employer brand in front of the recruitment process to highlight how a part-time or seasonal job can be the first experience in a successful career.

Internal development. 

Walmart employs more than 2.3 million associates around the world. More than 75% of its Walmart U.S. management team members started as hourly employees. In FY2021, the company promoted more than 200,000 people to jobs of greater responsibility and higher pay in Walmart U.S. This information is part of the company’s recruitment marketing and highlights the internal mobility and development that Walmart offers.

It’s a great place to start. 

McDonald’s not only recognizes that many hourly workers view the company as a stepping stone, they fully embrace it. The tagline they feature in one commercial: “committed to being America’s best first job,” is part of a series in which they feature former employees, from financial industry leaders to software engineers, whose first job was there. It also highlights the company’s tuition assistance program. Working in the service industry might not be your candidate’s “forever job.” However, it can help them pay the bills while giving them valuable experience.

Highlight professional growth opportunities.

Apple does a great job of this recruiting for retail store locations, putting career development forward, and offering educational opportunities through Apple University. Its career website prominently displays this value proposition for candidates. While only some companies have an Apple-sized budget to create their university, your internal learning and development programs should be part of your recruitment marketing.

[source: Apple Careers]

Focus on the possibilities.

Emphasize why — and how — working for your company can help them achieve the goals that are important to them and propel them toward the next step in their life and career. H&M’s “Place of Possible” national recruiting campaign from 2015 is an excellent example of how a retailer successfully positioned itself as an attractive place for hourly sales associates looking to launch their careers. The advertising campaign spotlighted fifty H&M employees whose career trajectories at the company reflect the spirit of “Place of Possible” with personal testimonies, several of which included advancing from entry-level positions to establishing a long-lasting career through the company’s internal promotion policies which seek to nurture talent and individual interests and style. 

Finally, depending on the size of your company and the opportunities for growth available, promoting learning and development as part of your recruitment marketing can significantly increase your pool of entry-level candidates. Making career development part of your employer brand will make retail roles more attractive to Gen Z candidates, even if those employees move on to other companies because they grew with yours (see: McDonald’s “best first job”).