Using Education as a Qualification for Retail Hiring

Often, as part of our retail consulting practice, we are asked to assist retailers with improving their recruiting and hiring processes.  In some cases this amounts to training their store managers and field leaders on how to effectively interview and select candidates while in others we also take a deeper dive by assisting them with writing job descriptions and developing hiring profiles.   Invariably, one of the things that comes up in these sessions is the value of using college or advanced degrees as a criteria for hiring an applicant.

The fact is that there are very few college-level programs that have professional retail degree programs.  Those that do tend to focus on merchant level activities in support of large retail companies instead of how to be successful as a sales representative, retail store manager or field leader with tactical responsibilities.

Since most of the specific skills and activities needed to succeed at the store and sales representative level can be learned – and often have to be as retailers have different systems and processes.  Our firm’s advice has been to focus on the competencies and core values necessary to win at the tactical level.  This includes things like being goal oriented, being able to communicate effectively, having high levels of integrity and the innate desire to serve others while working with team members.  So how should educational achievement impact hiring decisions for store owners and field managers?  Let’s look at our core values and competencies to inform us:

As you can see, it is not the degree or educational achievement that you should be focused on, but the behaviors, values and attitudes that allowed the prospective employee to attain the degree that will speak to their potential for success in your business.  They key will be your ability to ask questions that uncover these core attributes.

Would you like assistance with improving your hiring practices?  If so, contact us today for a free one-hour consultation!

–          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has directed the activities of hundreds of retail locations and thousands of retail sales representatives and store managers.  RAG offers consulting services, retail sales training and management training programs.   You can learn more at