You're Hired

19 practical tips to improve recruitment and prevent turnover.

You're Hired

January 2019

By: Erin Pressley

The success of every convenience store hinges on its ability to recruit, select, hire and retain top performers. With record low unemployment rates across the United States and increased competition in today’s employment climate, recruiting talent and selecting the right employee for the job should be your top priorities.

Implementing creative recruiting strategies will help get your jobs seen by candidates who are looking for a new role. It will also make it faster to hire great candidates, more consistently and with significantly less effort.

Marcella Burkheimer, director of human resources at Casey’s General Stores Inc., and Nichole Upshaw, executive director of HR at RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., itemized this critical initiative at the NACS Show when they shared “19 Recruiting Strategies to Try in 2019.” With an average cost of turnover at $15,000 per employee, retailers must put time and effort into creating a plan for action.

Implementing the following crowd-sourced strategies can help your company successfully produce—and preserve—a winning team:

1. Referral program. Offer employees “lightning” or “supercharged” referral bonuses, especially for positions or stores that are harder to fill. Your best source for finding new employees is most often your existing team. If you’ve done your job and hired great people to begin with, then this has a network effect.

2. Boomerang recruiting. Whenever good employees leave, ensure them that they are always welcome back. Don’t be afraid of rehiring them. And keep in mind that previous employees can be your best recruiting tool. If they left on good terms and had a positive experience, they will freely spread the word for you.

3. Car flyers. Some businesses operate their third shifts behind locked doors. Capture this employee group’s attention by putting flyers on car windows.

4. Friendly competition. Incentivize current employees with a recruiting challenge among stores. The store with the most referrals wins a prize, such as a branded item or a party.

5. Apartment welcome packets. Many apartment complexes offer welcome packets when new tenants move in, and the U.S. Post Office sends welcome packets to people who register new addresses. Inquire to see if you can include a store coupon that contains a recruiting message.

Join Us at the NACS HR Forum

The Forum is the premier program designed to educate and connect HR professionals working in the convenience and fuel retailing industry. At the three-day event, attendees benefit from interactive presentations on topics vital to their job, case studies that can generate new ideas and valuable opportunities to build relationships with industry peers. Attendees also receive continuing education credits for their participation. For more information on the program and to register, visit

6. Culture. Create a positive, welcoming and fun environment where people want to work. News of a great culture travels fast to potential employees. In addition, anyone who enters your store doors is a possible applicant. Make sure your store always puts on its best face.

7. Staff retainment. The biggest thing you can do to keep current employees is to make them feel valued. Recognize them in meaningful ways and offer them opportunities to build a career with your company.

8. Store signage. More than 40% of new hires learn about job opportunities through store signage, including road signs, in-store signs (on front doors or in bathrooms, for example) and signs on the pump. All signage should be temporary and attractive.

9. Internship program. Attract employees and establish positive opinions early in the game. Interns can be retained during the academic year on a part-time basis and offered full-time employment at the conclusion of their internship or upon graduation.

3 Recruiting Mistakes

Avoid these mistakes when recruiting employees:

Not treating great applicants like great customers. Treat your recruitment strategy like you do your marketing and sales funnel. If you receive a high-quality lead, would you wait three days to call that lead? Then don’t do that to a high-quality candidate.

2 Failing to strengthen your employer brand. Be a brand that the top talent in your space has heard of and wants to work for, so that when they learn about a position at your company, they're excited about the opportunity and not wondering who you are. Branding to attract talent is critical to staying competitive.

3 Not having a strategy to attract the best cultural fits. Great companies are honest about their culture. When you're promoting your employer brand, whether it's on your career page, social media or at an event, be honest and convey real information about daily life at the company and in your stores. Most people don’t want to work for companies where they don’t think they’ll fit in. If you put out accurate information to help people decide if they’re a good fit, you won’t waste time interviewing or hiring the wrong people.

The remaining strategies can help retailers build a concerted outreach program with ongoing recruiting pipelines:

10. Career events. Partner with local high schools, community colleges and universities, technical schools and community-sponsored events. Understand the recruiting programs they offer and participate in onsite or virtual career fairs.

11. Workforce programs. Developmental resources and tools help job seekers improve their résumé and skill set, while connecting them with compatible employers.

12. Educational institution and governmental agency work programs. Opportunities such as Community Life programs help disabled individuals obtain work experience. (Take caution to meet the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division requirements.)

13. Community references. Maintaining positive relationships with leaders in your community is influential. People you respect—and who respect you—can be valuable advocates.

14. Seasonal workforce. Reach out to students, teachers and other professionals who may need jobs in the summer, or stay-at-home parents who may work during the school year.

With an average cost of turnover at $15,000 per employee, you must put time and effort into creating a recruitment plan.

15. Social media. Share employee-generated content on social media channels, such as Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

16. Digital delivery. More than 80% of c-store applicants apply via a mobile device. Add video job descriptions to your website to make it easy to explore. Go through your entire application process, start to finish, on a mobile device. Make note of any parts that were difficult or impossible via mobile.

17. Recruiting cards. Pass these out everywhere you go. The best employees may have jobs already, but might consider a change when they learn about an appealing opportunity. Be ready to share what your store has to offer.

18. Trending calendar event. Host a “national hiring day” to create buzz for your brand, or choose a recurring day and time each week when people can inquire about jobs. Make sure it is visible to the public, not just customers.

19. Beneficial turnover. When a competitor announces it’s going out of business, contact the store and its employees to tell them you are hiring.

Recruiting talent is not a one size fits all. Select strategies that work for you and your store. If you abandon tired, old recruiting strategies that are not yielding results and think outside the box, success will follow.