Retailers Can Reap Savings During Spring Peak Hiring Season With Pre-Employment Verification

  • Written by  Jan Johnson, Equifax

0aaaJan Johnson EquifaxIt doesn’t get the ink the holiday hiring season enjoys, but with home and garden departments across the country ramping up operations this spring, retail is in the midst of its second peak hiring season.

Employment data from Equifax Workforce Solutions shows that March through May make up the busiest hiring months of the year for the big box retailers and home improvement stores that feature home and garden departments. Across the broader retail industry, these months are second only to the holiday hiring surge in October and November.

With retail’s razor-thin margins and traditional challenges in retaining workers, the pressure is on talent departments to show their green thumbs during this spring hiring peak by finding and securing the right people for open positions. A research study completed by Right Management reported that the cost of a bad hire ranged from 1X to 5X that employee’s annual salary, meaning regrettable spring hires can add up to significant financial losses.

Forward-thinking retailers are evolving talent acquisition processes and deploying tools in new ways to help weed out those candidates who might not be a good fit before an offer is made. This moves beyond the traditional use of employment verification to help ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.

Equifax data confirms the value of this approach, with some retail industry customers seeing an average improvement of up to 18% in one-year retention rates when using employment verification prior to making hires. That kind of improvement translates to notable bottom-line cost savings. For example, one retailer has estimated potential annual savings of $2.1 million, based on a 3% improvement in retention rates for a base of about 33,000 employees.

Retention rates can often be improved — and savings can be realized — by using pre-employment verification to help identify a number of potential red flags early in the hiring process, including the following:

Full disclosure. If a job is omitted from a resume, it is most likely omitted for a reason. If multiple jobs are omitted, it could be an attempt to obfuscate a candidate’s tendency to job-hop. Either of these situations can usually be detected via pre-employment verification, using a service like The Work Number® database, helping enable the employer to investigate potential red flags before a candidate is brought onboard.

Do not contact. It is common and understandable for candidates to request that current employers are not contacted during the hiring process. However, this leaves the talent team at the mercy of information provided by the candidate. Pre-employment verification can help confirm candidate-provided information or uncover inconsistencies, such as an employee who left a position earlier than reported on their resume.

It should be noted that employment verification also is good news for the vast majority of job applicants. When pre-employment verification services help to confirm accurately reported experience and tenures, employers can often move forward in hiring more quickly and with more confidence in the candidate’s experience.  

With increased competition for candidates in today’s job market, combined with the substantial costs associated with regrettable hires, pre-employment verification provides a real opportunity for talent teams to more quickly identify better candidates, but also to help avoid the pitfalls associated with hires who turn out to be less than ideal. It’s a leg up that can not only help lead to smoother operations as home and garden season shifts into high gear, but it also can help deliver real bottom-line savings that can contribute to overall profitability.


Jan Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in HR, focused on talent management. She holds an MBA with emphasis in International Business from University of Wisconsin — White Water. Johnson built her career in high tech companies’ HR departments, helping them implement talent management processes and technology. She then transitioned to driving product management for talent management software applications. Her passion is helping organizations drive strong business results and employee engagement through great talent management practices and technology. At Equifax, she leads the Product Management team for the Talent Solutions products.

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