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.

6 Steps To Hiring More Diverse Candidates

Diversity hiring has taken an especially significant priority during 2020. As hiring managers look to enhance their diversification, their hiring practices must get a refresh.

To make the most of your hiring pool and expand your diversity candidate reach, here are six ways hiring managers can updated their hiring practices to get more diversity in their candidates.

1. Evaluate The Current Hiring Practices

When you take an audit of your current process, you’ll find there are areas for improvement in the location you’re sourcing, the resume background you receive, and the places you go to physically recruit from.

Take a step back and look at the statistics of your diversity hiring. Is there an issue at the top-funnel collection process? Or is there a lack of diversity at the bottom of the funnel final interview stage?

You won’t know how to grow until you fully evaluate the data and understand your starting point.

2. Set A Diversity Goal To Reach

The second step towards success is identifying what you’d like to achieve with your hiring efforts. While simply saying you want to have more diversity hires doesn’t give a clear enough goal, giving a numeric example does!

Choose one of the metrics from your “Evaluate the Current Hiring Practices” above and really focus in on what is reasonable for goal setting. This could be something such as a 20% or 50% diversity top-funnel collection process. Or it could be having a goal of 30% final interview stage or 20-50% diversity job offers bottom-funnel goal.

At this point, choose just one or two goals to reach and put numbers behind your planning. That way you can communicate more effectively with others on the team and you can see how the efforts are measuring along the way.

3. Increase Diversity With Your Job Listings

Take a look at your current job listing. Consider the language and word choices that describe your open positions.

Whether on your website or other job board platform, look to include language that supports diversity hiring. Next, choose language that attracts your diversity pool. For example, if you are looking to attract more females to your company, avoid using excessive amount of masculine pronouns (he, his, him, etc.).

4. Increase Diversity On Your Website

Job seekers who value diversification in their company will often take the time to fully research the business they are considering.

Take a look at the images, videos, and language displayed on your website. Do you have an equal ratio of men to women? Are multiple ethnicities shown? It makes a difference to the candidate if they can see that your company values these things on the website.

5. Increase Your Diversity With Candidate Screening

To add more diversity in your candidate screening process, consider adding a personality assessment to your interviewing process.

Companies that utilize these to fill positions have shown a higher level of diversification. This is because character and personality data leads the decision-making process instead of gut instinct. We at Catalyst Career Group can give personality assessments to all candidates we source so that you are delivered higher quality results to fit your needs.

Also, consider doing “blind” hiring techniques in your hiring. You can utilize a recruiter to collect resumes and present relevant job-related qualifications while keeping school/name/age/address hidden. At Catalyst Career Group, we partner with businesses looking to increase their diversity hires and provide diverse candidates, pre-screened for your exact needs.

6. Reassess Your Diversity Hiring Practices

So you went through the process of evaluating your hiring procedures, updating your candidate sources, and identifying manual procedures that could limit diversity bias. Once you have gone through one or two rounds of the hiring practice, you should reassess the outcome.

Looking at how the interviews and resumes were handled will help you identify where you are excelling and what still needs improvement. Continuously work towards maintaining a diversity goal and your results will get closer to creating an equal hiring field for all job seekers!

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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