Help wanted: The retail roles you never think of

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“When you think of our organization, it’s all encompassing, and it can be literally anything from data science to merchants to analysts to consumer insights,” says Trey Stewart, manager of talent acquisition for The Home Depot, about the kinds of roles the company hires for. “It is the true gamut across the board.” The most interesting role he has helped fill? “We have helped hire an aviation mechanic before, to work on our fleet of jets,” he says; in-store employees are not the only employees that work in retail, and hiring a pilot is not a far stretch for a retailer of this scale.

This week on Retail Gets Real, Stewart and his colleague Brack Sullivan, senior manager of corporate talent acquisition, join the podcast hosts while attending Retail’s Academic Symposium in Chicago to share how the home improvement giant attracts top talent.

Stewart and Sullivan focus on bringing in “some of the brightest minds in retail” for non-store roles, and call it an “exciting challenge.” They start the sourcing process by promoting the retail industry to college students. Company executives, some of whom left coveted jobs in tech, consulting and other types of organizations to join The Home Depot, regularly speak to students about their experiences.

Brack Sullivan (far right) and Trey Stewart (middle right) join co-hosts Jessica Hibbard (far left) and Shaquayla Mims (middle left) in Chicago

Brack Sullivan (far right) and Trey Stewart (middle right) join co-hosts Jessica Hibbard (far left) and Shaquayla Mims (middle left) in Chicago

“It’s truly amazing that when you walk into retail, or you think of The Home Depot, you don’t really think of the seamless transactional experience that our customers are looking for,” Sullivan says, “and what it takes to keep that engine moving — and what it takes to continue to evolve those technologies.”

In-store experience is an asset no matter what corporate position an employee comes into, for the fundamental customer-centric problem-solving skills learned in a customer-facing capacity. Many retail roles are as competitive and hard to fill as comparative positions in other industries. A successful employee always has energy and drive, but in the fast-changing retail world, adaptability is essential. “Retail’s moving so, so fast,” Stewart says. “It’s changing. You either want to be on the sidelines watching the rocket ship take off, or you want to be on the rocket ship when it takes off.”

Listen to the episode to learn about Home Depot’s efforts to build a company culture that attracts potential employees, and subscribe to Retail Gets Real to hear more great insights from all sides of the industry.

Shaquayla Mims is one of NRF’s co-hosts on Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.