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The art and science of recruiting exceptional employees

group of pharmacists on the job

Recently there have been multiple reports about solid growth in store count and sales in all retail sectors including pharmacy. These are solid, steady results, and many retailers report being on, or even above plan. Solid performance for retailers means growth opportunities for all of retail in Canada in 2022. But to grow you need people, and so does your competition. The challenge becomes one of competing successfully to find those people.

Competition for the consumer’s discretionary income has always been fierce, and the key to winning has always been having the right people to deliver an outstanding customer experience. One only needs to walk through any mall or down any retail street to see multiple help wanted signs in windows. As more stores open, the competition to find those people will become even more intense, and the ability to coach your people, to motivate them, engage them, and keep them to drive a positive customer culture through your organization will become ever more important.

Who wouldn’t want to work here?

This question underlies a counterproductive hiring mindset that often prevents companies from hiring great candidates. It’s a confusing approach given the intensity of the current job market, but it’s one that occurs with surprising frequency. In an economic climate where there are more open jobs than there are people to fill them, attracting top talent requires work on the part of the employer. It may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked that top talent prospects have choices and your company may not necessarily be a candidate’s first choice. There’s an art and science to recruiting that can be extremely effective in attracting high-impact talent to even the most difficult to fill positions. Companies that consistently hire exceptional talent understand this and codify it into the candidate experience.

So, what are these companies doing right? To hire great employees, consider these critical factors when embarking on a search:

Align your vision – Before you begin, it’s important to articulate a clear vision that will guide your actions and decision-making throughout the process. Clearly communicating commitments and expectations up front is critical. Great candidates know they have options and are far less tolerant of a clumsy unfocused interview processes, inconsistent communication and lengthy timelines. You should be equipped to act swiftly and decisively after a structured planned interview and thorough reference investigation.

Cast your hiring committee wisely – The saying ‘people work for people, not companies’ is particularly relevant in recruiting. The people a candidate meets and the quality of those interactions during the interview process are leading indicators of acceptance (or the alternative) when an offer is extended. Less is more as it pertains to the number of individuals in the interview process. Too many voices can drown out the ones that matter most. The longer and more convoluted the process, the less likely they are to stay interested.

Consider your blind spots – There are many internal and external factors that top candidates evaluate when considering a new role. Public perception of the company, word of mouth, its leadership, the industry, online reviews, the location; are all key considerations many companies often overlook. Talented people have choices and even well-loved retailers can struggle to hire top candidates if they don’t acknowledge this fact. Also, in many cities, traffic and commuting distances to get to and from work is becoming a key consideration of where to work including the cost of fuel and time, picking up children from day care, caring for aging parents and the other daily living challenges and responsibilities people face. To recruit the best, companies need to take an honest look at the role from the candidate perspective and craft an authentic value proposition and compensation package that highlights opportunities while proactively addressing probable employee concerns.

Take the lead and close the deal – When you meet someone you’re interested in, it’s time to take the reins promoting and marketing the opportunity, and it’s something only you can do. Sometimes all it takes is a strategically timed phone call or an encouraging text message, an offer to go to lunch. Small gestures help form human connections and build relationships.

Ultimately, creating a desirable workplace and cultivating a positive candidate experience is both an offensive and defensive strategy. Consider your candidate experience, and ask: what are we willing to do to bring in the best person?

Gerry Spitzner is the founder and principal consultant of, a Vancouver-based business management consultancy providing strategic operations services focused on drug stores and pharmacies. For more information:

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