Retail Hiring Is Gaining Noticeable Momentum

The home improvement retail chain Lowe’s has announced a hiring spree of 50,000 front-line workers this spring in addition to $80 million in bonuses to their existing team of front-line workers in North American stores. Rival chain Home Depot has not made any such announcement in 2021, though last year they announced a more ambitious goal of hiring 80,000 employees around this time. 

2020 Results

While the timing may have sunk other retail chains, coming just before nationwide coronavirus lockdowns, home improvement stores actually saw higher sales in 2020 for the exact same reason: spending more time at home motivated customers to tackle more renovation projects. Specifically, consumers are seeking to repurpose existing spaces within their homes, reorganize home storage such as closets and garages and increase focus on improving outdoor living spaces.

Many other retail chains have had to explore alternatives to in-store shopping, such as various forms of e-commerce and delivery partnerships, but both Lowe’s and Home Depot already had BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store) systems in place. Home Depot’s digital sales rose 80% YoY in Q3 of 2020 while Lowe’s more than doubled at 106%. 

Predictions for 2021

With vaccines from a few different manufacturers rolling out, some are doubtful that this home improvement craze will continue. However, experts predict that the focus will remain on at-home categories through most of the year, with a shift to away-from-home goods and services towards the end of the year. Lowe’s conducted a study in December 2020, which indicated that 51% of respondents said they “have bigger plans” for their homes than a year ago and 56% are looking to learn how to take on a new home improvement project. 40% of consumers reported that they had started a new hobby involving tools or home improvement. 

The American South is already seeing a hike in foot traffic, which is fortunate for Home Depot because of their strong concentration there. Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas are currently the top 3 states for foot traffic, and at the bottom are California, Washington and Vermont, with New York just above them. Lowe’s is spread more evenly across the South, Midwest and Northeast regions. 

Another major difference between the two chains is Home Depot’s relationship with professional home contractors, which is responsible for 45% of their sales and explains their #1 rank in the category. Lowe’s has indicated that they are moving in this direction, in addition to growing their e-commerce segment. 

Recruiting Insights

If these retail giants are any indication, home improvement and home goods are a safe bet for the foreseeable future–especially products for the outdoors as spring comes around. Brick-and-mortars in these categories may enjoy continued success with digital sales and socially distanced pick-up options. Other categories may want to keep an eye on foot traffic trends to plan ahead.

It’s important that hiring processes align with safety concerns as well. Home Depot was fortunate to have introduced a smartphone app for job applications in 2018. It reduced application time to 15 minutes on average and the chain saw a 50% boost in people applying for positions. Providing digital options for applying, interviewing and onboarding are likely to increase your pool of applicants.

Take a look at our upcoming virtual job fairs or private recruiting and hiring options and get ready to meet your next round of new hires!

Businesses Anticipate What Consumers And Employees Will Care About in 2021

For the last several months, the American economy and job market have been slowly progressing back towards pre-pandemic levels. New changing demands for workplace policies have opened up acceptance for home accommodations and flexible hours. Once it is generally safe for employees to return to the workplace across the board, consumer attitudes and expectations of top talent will continue to shape hiring strategies.

Employees And Consumers Focus On Safety

Regardless of when the vaccine becomes widely available or when government-imposed restrictions are lifted, both consumers and job seekers will need to feel safe before they will start to engage with businesses again. In another blog, we discussed top talents’ ongoing expectations for health and safety, remote work, babysitting care for children, flexible hours and a competitive salary.

Some of the solutions that emerged to accommodate social distancing protocol will continue to impact business in 2021 and beyond. Jobs in the service sector took the hardest hit because of safety concerns, and companies that demonstrate care for their customer-facing employees while staying open to innovative solutions will see the best results. Especially during the transition back to public life, people will expect outdoor dining, curbside pickup and the option to buy online and pickup in-store, according to Constant Contact’s Great Recalibration Report

Conversely, the report also found that nearly 10% of respondents said they would never feel comfortable returning to in-person stores or offices again. Retaining some of these health and safety innovations will help to reach this population as well.

Businesses Focus On When And Where To Hire

As the big economic factors fall into place, there is still some ambiguity as to when and where talent will be most needed. As of Constant Contact’s survey November 19 – December 3, 72% of consumers said they expected to be back to public life within the next year, 52% said they would feel safe in less than six months (around May-June), and 15% already felt comfortable.

Most indicated that they would head to restaurants and grocery stores first, with professional services and other retail trailing at a distance. 

Among employers and hiring professionals, the anticipation is that we will make a full return to pre-pandemic activity levels around July. Small business owners may see a slightly faster rebound, as 72% of consumers will make a greater effort to shop small in 2021. 

Manpower’s Employment Outlook Survey compares the net employment outlook across US regions, which is largely determined by the industries present in different geographic locations. The Midwest is a frontrunner because of its manufacturing legacy, and Florida stands out as a hot spot for tourism, leisure and hospitality jobs. Leisure and hospitality has the strongest outlook across the board.
As you determine which roles to recruit and when, paying attention to the hiring trends in your region is a great strategy for finding the right candidates when they are serious about getting back to work. Take a look at our schedule of virtual job fairs in cities across the US and sign up to meet diverse candidates in your area!

2021 New Year Hiring Highlights

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in December 2020 outlining the state of the labor market, and sales numbers from the holiday retail season have confirmed predictions about the explosion in the e-commerce sector. The holiday season brought some new shifts in the kinds of jobs available.

A few key factors in the last quarter of 2020 include the steady shift of business from retail, government and other brick and mortar-dependent sectors to tech and e-commerce. 

Here’s an overview of the New Year hiring highlights:

  • 245,000 New Jobs
  • E-commerce Sales And Hiring Increases
  • Job Training Focus
  • Stimulus Holiday Package

Retail New Year Hiring & Sales

Notable job gains in November occurred in transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and health care, while declines in government and retail trade continued.

Amazon continued to dominate the burgeoning e-commerce world, continuing their global hiring spree to keep up with demand, and brick-and-mortars saw a 52% drop in Black Friday sales.

Walmart and Target also hired in large numbers to support e-commerce operations, along with a swath of independent e-tailers. In fact, warehousing and assorted combined industries created 145,000 of the 245,000 new jobs November.

But warehouse workers are not the only roles Amazon needs to fill: software engineers and hardware specialists are essential to support cloud computing, streaming entertainment and devices, which have boomed in the pandemic.

UPS and FedEx are also on an upward hiring trend, which is expected to continue with the distribution of the new coronavirus vaccine. Walgreens and CVS will be adding to their teams nationwide as well.

Training has emerged as a very attractive incentive for job seekers and a necessary solution to fill positions in machine learning, AI, Big Data, cloud computing, and other growth sectors.

Stimulus New Year Package

The government stimulus package passed in late December. The package provides jobless benefits until March 14 ( $300 per week) and a one-time payment of $600 for those who make less than $75,000 a year. Modifications were made to the Paycheck Protection Program to prevent the funds from being funneled to a few larger companies like sports teams, high-income law firms, and national restaurant chains like we saw with the first package in March. $12 billion was set aside specifically for minority-owned businesses.

Whatever your hiring goals are going into 2021, we can provide the support you need to recruit in bulk and hire fast with virtual job fairs or private virtual recruiting. Happy New Year and happy hiring!

Remote Recruiting in Uncertain Times

2020 is quickly coming to a close, and shifts to remote work across industries are continuing to disrupt the usual hiring trends. We know that many of the jobs that existed pre-COVID aren’t coming back anytime soon, or if they are, they may have changed drastically. Talented job seekers may be looking in different places than they did before for seasonal jobs and positions starting in the new year. So while many industries have had plenty of time to re-strategize during that time, HR teams and recruiters may still face a lot of unknowns. 

There are several questions you may not be able to find great answers to with the data that’s available:

  • Where is the talent looking for jobs, and what do they want in remote positions?
  • How wide do I cast my net, geographically and otherwise?
  • What’s the onboarding process going to look like in a virtual setting?

Recruiters can use the same leadership principles and strategies that management teams used back in April when many businesses had to completely change their core structure and offerings:

Prioritize and Clarify Processes

Focusing on what you can control with clarity and action can help you harness uncertainty to move towards desired outcomes.

Come up with realistic measures of what a successful hiring process will accomplish, then determine a couple of different approaches that might work. Take a cue from ER nurses, military personnel and other professionals who thrive in uncertainty: create contingency plans for multiple scenarios and be ready to execute.

Experiment and Take Risks

A balanced strategy for hiring in uncertain times will include both safety nets and ambitious risks.

Look outside your industry or geographic area for unique candidates with related skill sets, but don’t try both at once! Going back to our first tip, know how many applicants or interviews you would consider a success for each new strategy and review it after a limited time to see if it’s working.

Double Down on Privacy and Protection

Not only do you need to keep your applicants’ information safe, but you also need to inform them of how you are doing so.

Asking for personal information through email or an insecure website raises a red flag that may cause talented people to move along to other opportunities. If the position involves expense reimbursements or different taxation procedures, especially for applicants outside your state, that’s something to work out before you start hiring.

Don’t Miss Out on Non-Traditional Options

Big changes in your industry may be opening up new possibilities for things like work-life balance and diversifying your team.

One of the biggest groups of newly unemployed Americans are women, and many are looking at new careers with more flexibility than what they did before. Finding ways to accommodate them could help you fill positions much faster!

Recruit Virtually for Virtual Positions

Of course, if your applicant plans to work from home, the hiring and onboarding process should reflect that right from the beginning. Give job seekers a chance to get to know your company and start building a relationship during a virtual job fair or open house!

Looking to fill your position fast and need top talent? Contact Catalyst Career Group for virtual job fairs and private hiring events.

What top talent is looking for in their post-pandemic careers.

Today’s Covid environment has made top talent reassess their job needs and goals. With so many requirements and environmental changes taking place over the past year, many have adapted to working from home and have new expectations for how work looks in 2021 and beyond.

Here are some of the top requirements job seekers are looking for in their 2021 careers.

The Number One Priority Has Changed For Job Seekers For 2021

Today’s top talent is ranking the safety of their families as their number one priority for the job they accept. Prior to 2020, they used to rank financial providing for families as number one.

This is no surprise as we see how the pandemic has brought families closer to home, focused on health, and debating what safe measures they can make to protect those they love.

If you are looking to attract the top talent right now for your open position, health and safety must be first and foremost in your discussion and job listing. Does your website’s employer page discuss how you are keeping your employees safe? Have you outlined your health guidelines for all team members to follow? Stating information like this for your candidates to view during their research will help you move to the top of their career consideration.

Increased Hiring For Top Industries

There’s a big surge for top talent in certain industries during this post-pandemic period. Health education, public health, industrial, retail, and technology are all seeing a massive jump in demand and there aren’t enough qualified candidates for the jobs.

Top candidates in these areas are deciding carefully which companies they want to partner with. Some of the main requests in the post-pandemic 2021 career include remote work, babysitting care for children, flexible hours, and a competitive salary.

With more than 68% of workforce managers stating they will be likely to hire over the next few months [Source: Staffing Industry Analyst], now is the time to look at what factors you can build into your job packages to attract your ideal candidate.

Fast Movement Towards Hiring & Onboarding

There are big changes happening in many industries right now. With that comes the need to fill positions now. The need to connect with more candidates than ever is crucial for finding the right talent. With so much virtual interaction, companies are seeing how necessary it is to expand their demographic pool and invite a wider set of candidates into the interview process.

Top candidates are also on the look out for better opportunities if they are not in an ideal situation for their future career. They’re looking to leverage their current work experience for a better and healthier position right now. If the right offer comes along, they’re looking to move fast and aren’t afraid to cut ties with old toxic work environments.

“The ability to move quickly from sourcing, to resume selections, to phone screen, and multiple rounds of virtual interviews means there needs to be more candidates coming into the top of the funnel, and at a high quality.” Says Jeff Naugle, Catalyst Career Group, Co-Founder.

Ultimately, these 2021 job seeker trends are pushing hiring companies to be as efficient as they can. Leveraging technology and sourcing a wider range of talent into their interviewing pool is key to successful job fulfillment. It also means companies need to have a consistent and trustworthy process for sourcing top candidates.

That’s where Catalyst Career Group virtual job fairs, virtual private hiring events, and make-your-own virtual events make the difference! Our 12+ years of recruitment experience means we know how to find the best group of candidates for your exact position. We can also deliver them pre-screened to your private event to take the stress out of filling your specific need. Schedule a 20 minute phone call with Catalyst Career Group to discuss which virtual job sourcing option is best for your environment!

Catalyst Career Group provides Diversity Job Fairs and Diversity Private Hiring Events that take the guess work out of candidate sourcing and hiring. Contact us today to discuss your diversity initiatives and how we can help you go farther in your inclusion practices!


At a Catalyst Career Group Job Fairs, quality and value come together to help employers find the right hires and fill open positions fast!

We work hard to provide a comfortable and professional environment for you to meet with prospective candidates. You will find that the candidates that attend our Job Fairs are dressed professionally, have their resumes ready, and are ready to put passion into working for your company.

No other Job Fair company gives you more for your investment.

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