Recruitment in Retail: Should You Train New Employees or Hire Those who are Already Trained?


Recruitment can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming tasks for your retail business. Whether you are in charge of the process or you delegate it to another employee, it can take up valuable time and resources.

You can try to craft a detailed outline and job prospectus in order to hire the perfect candidate, but there is always the chance that a CV can come along and really impress you. For instance, an applicant can present you with a skill set that includes a proficiency that you didn’t realise you wanted when looking at recruitment for the role.

There are plenty of recruitment guides online that give sage advice about how to find the ideal employee, but they don’t give the full picture. For instance, very few articles address the pressure you might feel to get it right. You also might be feeling stressed about your other employees’ reactions – will they be threatened or otherwise put off by the new hire?

One of the most important questions that you can address is whether you should hire someone with no experience who you can train from scratch, or should you offer the role to someone with experience? You may even choose to promote from within your organisation. We have created this guide in order to help you choose the ideal recruit for your vacant position.

FRESH MEAT The recruitment pros and cons of hiring someone new for the role

There are many benefits to hiring a complete novice for your role. You might even consider implementing an apprenticeship program, something that many UK firms have had success with recently.

After all, someone new can inject fresh ideas that have not been constricted by training or the monotony of the ‘daily grind.’ When you hire ‘fresh meat’ you have the opportunity to act as a mentor for the next generation of leaders, and you can really make a difference in their lives. You can mould and cultivate the exact kind of employee that you have always wanted to train and work with. In addition to these pros, by hiring someone new from outside your firm, you are less likely to find someone who is tangled in office gossip and politics.

That said, for every pro, there is usually a con, and they have to be weighed carefully against one another. Your new junior staff member can slow down your productivity and decrease your sales. Remember – you will also have to take time away from your work in order to ensure that they are fully trained. They will need much more supervision, and this can negatively affect your entire business. 

It is important to really give their CV an in-depth read and assess their prior relevant experience and the kind of education that they have pursued. If they are well educated and clever, it is likely that they will be able to learn quickly and get to work faster.

When hiring a novice, don’t be afraid to initiate a probation period (in line with local employment laws). This will allow you to assess their overall performance after a set period of time and make a permanent decision about their suitability at a later date.

OLD HAND – The recruitment pros and cons of hiring someone with experience

Hiring someone with heaps of relevant experience and who is fully trained may seem like the better option, but it is worth pointing out that this can have cons as well.

In terms of the positives, when you hire an experienced candidate you are much more likely to end up with someone who knows the ins and outs of your industry. They can get to work right away, and they will need very little training to get started. They can teach you and your team new tricks and inject tried and true ideas that they have tested in other environments into your firm. This can propel your retail enterprise to new heights.

However, hiring qualified (or even overqualified) candidates for your vacant role does also have many downsides. First of all, they are likely to expect a much higher salary and benefits. There is also a chance that they will be ‘stuck in their ways’ and resistant to learning a new method or system for doing things. They might also try to change the way that your existing employees do their jobs.

While some innovation and change is a good thing, it is important to remember that you are the boss. If the new hire barrels in and tries to change the core nature of your business, it can really harm the dynamics of your workplace. Your employees will likely feel confused, and they might pick up on the power struggle. In the worst case scenario, they could start to replicate this recalcitrant behaviour. 


When it comes to picking the right person for the job, there is no way to simply ‘know’ who you should select. While some recruiters can tell immediately that someone is the perfect candidate, for other applicants it may take them a few rounds of interviews.

For recruitment in retail, it is usually a good idea to select a candidate that has a small amount of experience but who is not overqualified for the role. Finding a balance between someone who is ‘fresh meat’ and an ‘old hand’ is usually the best bet for success.

A savvy idea is to implement an apprenticeship scheme at your company, as this enables you to have the best of both worlds. You can have a no obligation start with someone who is completely fresh, and then choose to offer them a permanent position when the apprenticeship is over.

Choosing a new staff member for your retail position is never an easy task, but by paying attention to the above pros and cons you can make a wise and measured decision about what is best for your business.