Seasonal Hiring: Get Ready to Move Retail Candidates Through the Funnel Faster

industry solutions for retail

The retail industry has always faced high employee turnover, but as retailers prepare for the holiday hiring push, there are new challenges to contend with. For the second year in a row, 70% of retailers say hiring and retaining store associates is their biggest challenge, reports Retail TouchPoints’ 2022 Store Operations Benchmark Survey.

While retail employees were once hired for single roles, customers’ embrace of omnichannel shopping now requires associates to juggle multiple duties, from stocking shelves to fulfilling online orders. Record-low unemployment rates mean stiff competition for qualified candidates.

Unfilled retail associate jobs negatively impact customer service, damaging your brand and making your organization less competitive. To thrive during the competitive holiday season–and all year long–retailers must be able to hire quickly in peak seasons.

Is your organization’s HR tech stack ready for peak season hiring?

Retail hiring challenges on the rise

Among the hiring hurdles retailers face in 2023:

  • The rise of omnichannel shopping: Forrester predicts the popularity of cross-channel shopping will continue to grow in 2023. Multitasking among in-store duties, fulfilling “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) orders and curbside pickups, or even making deliveries puts new pressures on retail associates, which can increase turnover. According to the Retail TouchPoints survey, over 50% of retailers said associates spent more time fulfilling online orders in 2022 than in 2021.
  • Seasonality shifts: While the holiday shopping season is still retailers’ hiring peak, it’s not the only time of year when retail staffing needs surge. Geographic differences, weather events, and region-specific shopping patterns mean constant peaks and valleys in customer demand and hiring needs. In addition to the winter holidays, retailers may need to adjust staffing for different shopping seasons throughout the year, such as hunting season, summer patio season and back-to-school shopping. Retailers may also be competing with (or fulfilling orders for) Amazon Prime Day, which changes from year to year.
  • Increasingly complex compliance laws: New laws regulating hiring are passing every year. For example, a growing number of locales have enacted Ban the Box and fair hiring laws. Retailers with multistate locations must deal with a patchwork of national, state, and local regulations; failing to comply may expose you to costly lawsuits.
  • The gig economy: More than one-third (36%) of US workers are employed in the gig economy. Gig employers, offering flexibility and the ability to start working quickly, are competing with retailers for the same candidate pool. “Near-zero-day” hiring is becoming commonplace; some employers hire and onboard candidates in as little as 90 minutes.

Any friction in the hiring funnel–such as slow pre-employment background checks–can put you at a disadvantage in this competitive environment. The right background check platform can streamline the process, helping you hire at speed and scale during peak hiring seasons.

Here are 4 things to look for when selecting a background check provider to support your peak season hiring needs.

1. Seamless candidate experience

In retail, your employer and consumer brand are one and the same. A negative candidate experience can hurt your consumer image, while a positive one can burnish your brand even if the person ultimately isn’t hired. While many background screening solutions suffer from confusing interfaces and time-consuming forms, Checkr is designed to deliver a stellar candidate experience, including:

  • Mobile optimized interface: An intuitive mobile app lets candidates start the background screening process anytime, anywhere, at their convenience.
  • Convenient login: Eliminate the need for a username and password by letting candidates log in with personally identifiable information.
  • Guidance through the screening process: A workflow that prompts candidates through the background check process reduces delays.
  • Clear communication: To keep candidates engaged, Checkr notifies them when their background check starts and provides an ETA for completion.
  • Built-in error detection tool: Don’t let a typo derail a background check. Checkr helps detect errors, automatically kicking off a workflow that alerts the candidate to correct the mistake.
  • 24/7 customer support: When candidates need help, Checkr’s candidate support team is ready to answer their questions 24/7.

2. Tools to increase your candidate pool

With so much competition for retail associates, you don’t want to lose a single qualified candidate. But conducting background checks without a specific adjudication vision can return criminal records that your adjudicator must manually review to determine which charges do not disqualify a candidate. This is time-consuming, reduces your candidate pool, and can even expose you to litigation.

All-new for 2023, Checkr's add-on adjudication tool Assess Standard lets you easily customize your adjudication settings to your needs, based on your company’s policies. Adjust your adjudication settings directly from your dashboard, show or hide records that have been dismissed, and easily identify those needing further review. By deemphasizing records you don’t need to see, automated adjudication saves you time, keeps candidates in the hiring pool, and supports fair chance hiring.

Large retailers with thousands of applicants across multiple locations may want to upgrade to Assess Premium, a more advanced set of decisioning features which help shorten background check turnaround times even more.

Assess Premium lets you tailor your adjudication rules for different positions, depending on the type of record or the severity, frequency, or recency of the offense. To further streamline decision-making, you can use Assess Premium to easily label reports as Eligible, Review, or Escalated based on your adjudication rules. On average, Assess Premium cuts adjudication time by 90% and reduces adverse actions by 25%, giving you a bigger pool of candidates to draw from.

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3. Time-saving technology to streamlines your hiring process

Hiring at scale is key during busy retail seasons. However, many background screening providers still rely on manual processes to review candidate data and verify charges, which can cause delays as your candidate volume increases. To meet your need for speed, look for a provider that leverages automation to complete background checks quickly, no matter how many candidates you’re screening.

Checkr’s proprietary technology is built to handle high volumes of background checks, delivering rapid, reliable results during the crush of peak season hiring as well as any time of year.

Siloed tech stacks can slow you down by forcing HR teams to sift through disparate systems for information. A background screening solution that integrates with your ATS and other HR technology saves HR teams time. Checkr’s pre-built integrations with 100+ popular ATS, HR and onboarding tools helps you handle high-volume retail hiring efficiently, even during peak seasons.

Continually improving your hiring process keeps you competitive. Analytics can help you avoid bottlenecks by showing how long each step of a background check will take. Checkr’s analytics tools make it easy to dig into the cause of delays, find ways to shorten turnaround time, and adjust your hiring criteria to expand your candidate pool.

4. The ability to handle compliance with confidence

A background check partner that stays abreast of a shifting regulatory landscape is vital, especially for retailers with locations in multiple cities or states. In addition to applicable federal laws or guidance, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) guidance, there may also be state and local laws that differ from one location to the next.

Automated and integrated compliance workflows within your background screening process may help your organization mitigate risk. Checkr’s compliance engine is continually updated to keep pace with changing laws and helps simplify alignment with requirements by location. Checkr’s suite of compliance tools, including reporting filters, adjudication tools, and automated adverse action workflow, help enable compliance for confident hiring.

Retail employees play more roles today; for example, you might wish to check motor vehicle records if a position could involve delivery driving. Checkr lets you easily customize background check packages for specific needs. We handle multiple types of screenings quickly and compliantly, giving you the flexibility to place employees where and when they’re needed.

Get ready for seasonal retail hiring with Checkr

In an increasingly competitive retail landscape, your HR technology is more critical than ever. Retailers can hire quickly and with confidence using Checkr’s modern platform to streamline, automate, and expedite the background check process.

Our easy-to-use candidate portal keeps candidates informed and engaged at every step, reducing churn in a tight labor market. Checkr’s customizable adjudication tools reduce the need for manual review, while built-in compliance tools help guide HR teams through required steps for greater efficiency. Our dashboard lets you easily tailor background check packages for every role your retail employees need to fill. Consistently rapid turnaround times further streamline hiring, giving your company a competitive advantage in hiring qualified candidates.

Hire faster with Checkr.


The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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