By Sarah Hamaker
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—What’s one of the biggest challenges facing retailers today? Connecting with candidates for open job positions. “Recruiting is a No. 1 concern among retailers,” said Bianca LaFountain, talent acquisition manager at GPM Investments LLC, during last week’s virtual NACS Human Resources Forum workshop “Taking Recruiting Virtual.”
LaFountain shared insights into how GPM transitioned to recruiting via virtual platforms during the pandemic—a move the company plans to keep in the future.
Like many companies, COVID-19 pushed GPM into virtual hiring. “We had an opportunity to do a free, virtual event,” she told attendees. “That event was very successful.” The company interviewed 256 candidates and hired 152 during the six-hour virtual hiring event.
Based on the results, GPM fully embraced virtual hiring. “The first virtual event showed us an increase in the hire rate, it saved time and it was more cost-effective” than in-person hiring events, LaFountain said. “The best part of that event was we learned from the [inevitable] hiccups and have switched to using technology we already had for our future virtual hiring events.”
She outlined the basic plan GPM uses before each virtual hiring event. Seven to 10 days beforehand, the company creates advertising materials, including flyers for stores and social media posts, as well as job listings. “This lead time gives us enough time to advertise for the positions for the virtual job fair,” LaFountain said.
The day before the event, GPM schedules 30-minute interview time slots via mass email or texts to candidates. LaFountain recommended Microsoft Teams for the virtual interviews and text for corresponding with candidates. “The response rate with text was much better than email,” she said. “For texts, keep them short and to the point, and make it more personal.”
On the day of the event, GPM sends out reminder texts 15 minutes ahead of the interview time. “This helps reduce the number of candidates who don’t show up to the interview,” she said. “It also allows the candidates to reschedule if they’re not able to attend.”
After a successful interview, GPM will extend an offer of employment immediately, then send the candidate to a local store to complete a drug test. “Speed of hire is important for candidates right now,” she said, adding it’s also important to let candidates who won’t be hired know within 24 hours.
The results of the retailer’s virtual hiring events were an increase in the interview show rate to 50% to 60% versus 20% to 30% for the in-person interview show rate. “We also increased the hire rate and the hiring manager satisfaction,” LaFountain said. “The people who are doing the virtual job fairs like them much more than in person.”
One of the challenges to virtual job fairs has been getting hiring managers on board. “It still feels new and a little awkward at times, but whenever we’ve had a hiring manager do one virtual interview, all their events after that initial one have been virtual,” she said. “I think that speaks volumes to how successful it is.”
GPM is focusing on remodeling its growing network of c-stores. Michael Bloom, executive vice president and chief merchandising and marketing officer at GPM, recently outlined the company’s plans with NACS Magazine. For photos of the new concept and to read more, see “Tying It All Together” in the March issue.
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Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Va. Visit her online at www.sarahhamakerfiction.com.