September 9, 2015

H&M Canada changing the perception of retail with its largest recruitment campaign

Last week, Hollie Shaw of the Financial Post wrote an interesting article on H&M Canada's attempt to change the perception of retail as a career path. The attempt coincides with the launch of H&M's largest recruitment campaign, Place of Possible.

And so today, I'll be talking about the recruitment campaign, how to prepare your job application, and what to expect as a candidate in the recruitment process.

As part of their recruitment process, H&M is looking for staff for a variety of roles. Although the campaign is focused on hiring staff who are looking to develop their career within the retail sector, there are still plenty of part-time jobs available at locations across Canada.

1. Research

As with any job search, you need to begin by spending some time on research. There are many different job opportunities with H&M that range from Sales Advisor and Visual Merchandiser to Store Manager. Begin by looking at the list of available jobs to gain a sense of how the business operates and where you best fit given your existing experience, current circumstances, and future career goals.

Also, be sure to research the H&M corporate culture so that you understand the values they expect all of their employees to uphold. And for something fun, complete their short online quiz to see if you share the H&M spirit.

2. Prepare your cover letter and resume

After you've done your research and know the jobs you are interested in, spend some time updating your cover letter and resume with any recent/relevant experience. If you don't have a resume and/or cover letter, download a template, and create your own.

As with most retail job opportunities, experience/skills in customer service, sales, cash-handing, visual merchandising, and stock replenishment are highly-valued and should be highlighted on your resume.

If you have experience in any of these areas, I would recommend using a chronological or combination style resume to showcase your relevant experience. However, if you do not have any job experience or your experience is in another industry, consider using a functional style resume and focus on the skills that you bring the role.

3. Complete your application

On the H&M website, they offer some good tips on how to complete your application. Some of my favourite tips include:

- Always read the job description carefully to make sure you match the qualifications
- In your cover letter, explain why you’re applying for the position (note: one page is sufficient)
- Make sure you emphasize why you’re a great fit for the position

The actual application process is quite easy and involves an online application form. Ensure that you spend the time understanding the job you are applying for, tailoring your cover letter and resume, and completing any necessary sections on the online application form.

4. Prepare for the next steps

Once you have submitted your application online, you will immediately receive an email confirmation. Your application will then be reviewed by the recruitment team and you can expect to hear from them via email or telephone within 2 weeks.

And once you have applied for a position at a particular H&M store, you can use the same profile to apply for positions at other H&M stores. Likewise, you can also update your profile if needed (e.g. if you lose your phone and need to change your contact number).

5. Ace the interview process

The interview process at H&M can range from a quick one-on-one interview to a longer group-style interview - it depends on the type of position and the hiring manager's preferences. Although you might not know the format, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.

First, expect to be asked common questions including "Why should we hire you?", "Why do you want to work for H&M?", and "Tell me about a time you offered great customer service - what did you do?". If you're unsure on how to prepare for an interview, read my previous posts on answering situational interview questions and behavioural interview questions.

Second, be yourself - and that includes your interview clothing options. They aren't expecting applicants in three-piece business suits. Rather, dress based on your personality - but still keep it professional and appropriate as you want to look like someone who can represent the H&M brand to customers.

And lastly, expect to be asked about your weaknesses and how you are working on turning them into strengths. Looking back on my interview with H&M when it first came to Canada, I didn't answer the question properly as I relied on the all-too-common "I work too hard ..." response. Rather, I should have been honest and talked about how I wanted to improve my visual merchandising skills. As one of the hiring managers told me afterwards, "Having an area you want to focus on improving is not a weakness. Rather it's a demonstration that you're looking to continuously grow and improve yourself".

In sum, if you're currently looking for a part-time retail job and are interested in working for H&M or starting a career in retail, then I would encourage you to visit the H&M Careers website and see if an H&M near you is hiring!

Good luck!