How Auchan Recruits Retail Talent in a Difficult Labor Market

Over the past 55 years, Auchan has spread its chain of supermarkets and hypermarkets to 17 countries across three continents (Europe, Africa, and Asia). They have 10,000 employees spread across 50 stores in Romania alone, and their hiring needs are as robust as you would expect for a company of its size and scope. Though Auchan has a long history of success as an organization, it still has to face the same challenges that other employers in the retail space regularly encounter: high hiring volumes, high turnover, and high competition for the best candidates.



Up until recently, the company had relied mainly on offline recruitment strategies like attending job fairs and posting on bulletin boards for their in-store hiring needs. As the labor market became more and more competitive, however, they knew that they wouldn’t be able to keep relying on these methods. Instead, they would need to adopt practices that enabled them to specifically target defined demographics with a consistent brand message.


To that end, they partnered with SmartDreamers and began using our automation solution, implementing a grand total of 90 recruitment marketing campaigns in the first year. The result was nearly 7 million impressions, reaching more than 1 million blue-collar job seekers, which translated into 78,000 clicks and 2,000 applications—all of which represented significant year-over-year increases. In this way, they were able to boost job apps by 140%!


Today, we’ll be hearing from Aurelia Mihai at Auchan about how they’ve automating recruitment marketing and strengthened their talent pipeline in the process.


Q: What specific challenges do recruiters face in trying to fill retail positions?


A: Let’s be honest, retail represents one of the most difficult talent markets right now. We have to confront the perception that retail jobs are all “hard work for less pay” compared with other industries—even though this is often far from the reality, at least at Auchan. Since success depends on large recruiting volumes, our main challenge is attracting enough candidates to fill the vacancies. Success is a question of building trust and communicating transparently about our jobs, work conditions, benefits, and opportunities, but also of ensuring that this attractive message reaches as many people as possible.


Q: Can you recommend some tactics that companies can use to overcome those challenges?


A: We focused on making sure that any promise we made to our candidates was already being met for our current employees. We recommend that any message you send to external candidates is supported by strong facts and reflects your real work conditions because your employees are the first and most important ambassadors of your employer brand.


And then, of course, you can showcase this reality (and highlight the way that it adds value for potential candidates) in a simple and direct style on social media and mass media.


Q: What tactics can recruiters use to reach as many candidates as possible?


A: After ensuring that your message is attractive to your target candidates, you need to ensure that it reaches the right people. Learning as much as possible about your target candidates—their interests, passions, preferences, and behaviors—can help inform the design of successful campaigns with good conversion rates.


A few trends to keep an eye on are: the growing adoption of social networks, the public's increasing preference for receiving information online rather than via TV or other traditional sources, and the widespread use of smartphones. This is even true for candidates who are members of Generation X or who live in more rural areas.


We believe that in sourcing candidates, all online and offline channels must be taken into consideration and tried. From there, one’s efforts should be measured and adjusted according to their impact. But online presence is an absolute must—as is a good applicant experience via mobile phones.


Q: Which social media channels are best for reaching retail candidates?


A: It depends on the profiles you target. The idea is to make your presence felt on the channels where your target personas already spend their time online. It’s important to monitor any campaign's impact and adjust targeting as needed. This means keeping an eye on the online behavioral trends for different ages, genders, interests, geographical areas, etc.   


Q: How did SmartDreamers helped Auchan in their recruitment efforts?



A: SmartDreamers convinced us to partner with them for recruitment marketing in the first place by emphasizing the importance of meeting candidates’ needs—e.g., a simple application form, especially via mobile, that requires less of a Herculean effort than applying via a traditional job platform. SmartDreamers’ methodology helped us reach the passive candidates, meaning that we were able to capitalize on their impulse to apply. They also helped make our efforts more efficient. To wit, our campaigns garnered over 7 million views in 2018, resulting in over 1,600 direct, relevant applicants. Of course, the number of resulting applications is much larger because people return to our career page or come directly to our stores to apply for vacancies after seeing our online campaigns.


With SmartDreamers, we improved our profiling, identified our best channels, and made quick adjustments as needed, decreasing the cost per application and increasing conversion rates in the process. We believe in their agility and capability, and they’ve helped us to adopt a more modern approach for the modern era.


As we said above, retail is one of the most difficult recruitment markets right now. And yet, Auchan has been able to thrive under conditions that would prove untenable for many companies. By targeting passive job seekers on social media platforms and other channels where they already spend their time, they’ve been able to boost their employer brand awareness and establish themselves as an employment destination for blue-collar workers. As their efforts continue to grow and evolve, they’ll be able to rely on high-quality data and reporting to refine their approach and make adjustments in order to attract their target personas better.