As you’re no doubt aware, vacancies were reported to hit a record high in the UK last month, with 1.1million open opportunities. 

Among the hardest hit was the retail industry, emerging from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was closely followed by the hospitality sector – again, slowly reopening after one of its most challenging periods in history.

So, as we fight this continued war for talent, how can we attract the candidates we need?

Using data from our landmark candidate behaviour research, we’re drilling down into the retail and hospitality sectors.  Today, we’ll look at three key areas: pre-application research, the application process and the importance of staff perks and benefits.



Hospitality and retail: Where are your candidates looking?

As we might expect, an organisation’s own website is the the most popular source of information for candidates. For our candidates in the hospitality industry, a huge 91% of respondents agreed that they would turn to the company’s website to find out more about an organisation and a job role.

This is significantly higher than the response from candidates across all sectors, at 82%. And only 79% of candidates in the retail sector agreed that they would look at an organisation’s website before applying for a role.

Interestingly however, our retail candidates did seem inclined to research more widely than their their hospitality counterparts. 28% of retail respondents agreed that they would look up existing employees online, compared to only 16% of respondents who work in hospitality. In a similar vein, a higher percentage of retail candidates would research an organisation using social media or reading reviews (such as on sites like Glassdoor) compared to hospitality talent.

What does this tell us?

Although there are a few differences between the two sectors, both agreed that a company website was the most important source of information when researching a potential new employer. This reinforces the importance of a strong online presence, including an engaging careers site.

It is also vital to ensure that your online experience is consistent across all channels, as  some candidates agreed that they would look across multiple platforms, from social to employee review sites. Ensure your employer brand (Monster have some great tips here if you are looking to develop yours) is reflected across all online touchpoints. You want your candidates to experience consistent and authentic messaging. And in highly competitive industries, this could just be the deal-breaker between you and a competitor also vying for the same talent.



What could deter your hospitality and retail candidates from applying?

We asked all our candidate behaviour respondents whether they would give up on application forms if they were A) too long and B) too complicated. For both, the majority agreed that yes, they would (44% of all respondents would give up if an application was too long, and 53% if it were too complicated).

Interestingly, our candidates in the hospitality sector seemed to display greater patience than the average respondent.  42% would give up if an application was too long. This figure drops further to 38% if an application form was complicated – well below the average of 53%.

Why is this? Without further data we can only make an educated guess, but as an industry impacted by multiple closures and other restrictions in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we know that the hospitality workforce faced multiple job losses.

Perhaps as the industry now shows signs of recovering, candidates are more willing to jump through lengthy or complex application processes to secure a new role.

Interestingly, this is not reflected in the retail sector. Retail respondents sit in line with hospitality in terms of lengthy application processes, with 41% agreeing that they would give up. But this shoots up to 59% abandoning their application if it became too complicated.

What does this tell us? 

In short, even if it doesn’t impact a significant candidate drop-off rate, organisations should provide as simple an application process as possible. For some tips on this, turn to page 11 of your candidate behaviour report, or head over to this post here!


How important are staff benefits and perks to hospitality and retail candidates?

We firmly believe that staff benefits and additional ‘perks’ must be demonstrably valuable to your team, as opposed to tokenistic gestures that look good on a careers site or job description.

With that said, the right employee benefits can not only really contribute to staff wellbeing, but could also give you the competitive edge over other organisations seeking talent in your sector.

And they’re clearly valuable to potential candidates. In our candidate behaviour research, 70% of all respondents agreed that staff perks and benefits were important. This was echoed across our hospitality and retail respondents, albeit with some different (67% and 74% respectively).

We were also keen to understand what impact an organisation’s social conscious and approach to D&I and CSR had on potential candidates. Both hospitality and retail candidates agreed that a potential employer’s approach to D&I was very important, at 81% and 79% respectively. Interestingly, this places them above our general respondents (73%). This was reflected too in an organisation’s commitment to helping the environment, with both sectors agreeing it was important to them, above the average response rate.

What does this tell us? 

If your organisation does support charity initiatives, has an environmental pledge or can demonstrate a real living commitment to diversity and inclusion, make sure you clearly present this across your website, careers pages and social channels.

Many candidates now want to work for a company with a conscience.

However, be wary if you can’t fully ‘walk the walk’. We learnt from our candidate research that many jobseekers are becoming savvy to ‘marketing speak’ and jargon used by organisations in their job descriptions – and we imagine this extends to staff benefits and corporate social responsibility too!



Are you looking for more insights into how your candidates think, feel and act during the recruitment journey? From research to attitudes towards online interviews, we cover it all in Candidate Behaviour: The Big Report – one of the most comprehensive research reports in the industry.

Created in partnership with Monster, we asked jobseekers across the country, of all ages and working in a wide range of sectors, to tell us how they act, think and feel during the hiring process. So, for a deep dive into your candidates and how they feel, download your report today!


About the author

Tristan Potter

From candidate experience to flexible working, and from supporting graduates to ATS reports; Hannah's written it all over the years! Hannah has contributed to publications as diverse as The Guardian, UK Recruiter and University Business. She is also the wordsmith behind our whitepapers and guides, from GDPR to Employee Volunteering.