The Do’s & Don’ts to consider before choosing your referee for your CV

Who you choose as a referee could put your job offer in jeopardy. Our Director of Grocery Retail Recruitment, Nikki Murran, outlines the Do’s and Don’ts to take into consideration before you give your prospective employer contact information of who you decide to speak on your behalf. 

Before my life as a recruiter, I worked in retail as an Area Manager for one of the large discounters for over five years. This week I received a phone call asking for a reference for a Store Manager who worked in my district 15 years ago. Whilst I remember him well, and fondly, I did wonder if I was the best person to give this reference all this time later. I know I would not like to be measured now by the 15 year ago version of me! My management style has evolved, my emotional intelligence has been fine-tuned and I am a lot less easy to overwhelm!  

It got me thinking of some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to reference checking that I could share this month.  

Do be honest starting with your CV. Make sure your CV is accurate, including dates and titles. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate or overstate – it will come out, if not during the interview or reference stage then certainly when you start your new job! Most employers appreciate honesty and would much prefer to invest in training to cover any skills gaps rather than a candidate trying to blag their way through an interview for a role they are not ready for. Dishonesty is usually easy to detect and will lead to immediate rejection from an interview process.  

Don’t give referees whom you did not report to. I can’t count the number of times candidates have supplied a colleague’s details rather than their line manager – whilst this is usually done without malice it comes across as otherwise. Consider which of your references can best discuss the traits and qualities you possess that directly relate to the job you are applying for. 

Do make your ex-employer aware you are providing their details and that they are comfortable speaking on your behalf. For example, I remember talking to a referee who didn’t remember the candidate and another who was shocked to have been used as they had finished up on awful terms. Before you submit a reference list to a prospective employer, it’s a good idea to contact each and give them an update on your recent career and the role you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a job that involves a strong focus on fresh foods you could highlight this and remind your reference of some relevant success you had in their business. This is likely to make for more engaged referees willing to speak on your behalf.  

Do make sure your referees are contactable! It goes without saying, but if you haven’t flagged to your referee to expect a call they may not answer or return in a timely manner putting your job offer in jeopardy! Make it easy for an employer to speak to your references by providing clear contact information for each individual, including the person’s name, phone number and e-mail address. You might even note the best time of day to reach him or her. 

So what about Do’s and Don’ts when you are the one conducting references on a prospective employee? As a recruitment agency, we always carry out thorough reference checks on all our candidates, but what about when you are recruiting directly? Our advice here is to make sure when contacting a referee, you have a list of questions ready that are relevant to the role the candidate is being considered for. For example – are they reliable, trustworthy, good with customers etc.  

You should highlight the role the candidate is being considered for as well as a quick update of where they have worked since they left the referee’s employ. This will give them a better framework to base the reference around. 

We also always ask if they would recommend them for re-employment. It requires a definite response so it usually gives a fairly direct assessment of their opinion of the candidate!  

Finally, it’s also always worthwhile to determine why a candidate left their previous role as it can give some understanding of what motivates or de-motivates them.  

For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email You can view all of our live jobs here.

Grocery Management Awards 2024

Grocery Management Awards 2024

Grocery Management Awards  

Judging the Grocery Management Awards is one of my favourite events each year. It’s an opportunity to catch up with some of the best and most passionate retailers across the country.  

With some new and returning categories in the line-up this year, 2024’s GMAs are set to be one of the most exciting years yet!  

This year I reached out to a couple of our clients whom we partner with closely, to encourage them to nominate some of their team for recognition. Whilst most were thrilled to partake a couple of my clients surprised me by turning down the opportunity.  

One of these clients suggested that he didn’t know if it was worth the effort and wasn’t sure if his employees would see the value.  

It got me thinking,  perhaps for those on the fence about whether certain awards are for them and their teams, I should put together a list of benefits I have seen enjoyed by the retailers that have engaged in various awards over the past decade.  

→ Employee retention – I know I have cited this before but feeling undervalued is one of the most common reasons employees look to make a move. Perhaps you think that by highlighting an employee’s talents you will make them ripe for competitors? But we have seen the opposite to be the case over the years. A large number of the retailers nominated for these awards are long-serving employees who have be only to happy to remain in a business where they feel appreciated and their hard work is recognised on a regular basis.  

→ Employee Engagement – nothing brings people together more than award season! And I don’t just mean over a shared bottle of bubbles. Most managers we spoke to this year where at pains to stress how they couldn’t have reached such highs without their wonderful teams. We have seen again and again how store teams rally around their nominated manager to cheer him or her on for a win! 

→ Recruitment – telling new recruits that your store has a wonderful culture or a great leader in their Store Manager is one thing – but showing them your store that won “Team of the Year” or “Manager of the Year” really proves the point! 

→ Customer and community engagement – this one took me a little by surprise. When I questioned participants of previous years, they explained that the buzz the nominations created in their store led to a real sense of community with their regular customer base! With one school even going as far as making good luck cards for a manager in their local store!  

→ Boosts employee morale across the store – win, lose or shortlist – the feeling of knowing your store’s owner or regional manager felt you or your team where worth consideration for any award certainly increases a sense of morale, which spreads across the business!  

→ Innovation and productivity – From Butchers and Deli Managers to Supermarket and Wholesale Managers, every entrant in the process is asked to explain how they have driven their stores or departments forward in the last year. Many past applicants informed me that this question stayed with them over the following years and drove them to keep looking for ways to increase productivity, introduce innovation and strive for better across their businesses. Knowing that each year you will be taking stock of the last 12 months accomplishments in front of your peers and a judging panel can be a real motivator for many!  

→ Sense of purpose –  Annual awards , be they in house or external can instil a real sense of purpose to your team and helps to give them a focus for the year ahead.  

→ Sharing your story – how many of your more junior staff know the story of how their store manager progressed to their current role? Award season is a great excuse to share these stories to help motivate those starting out in retail and laying down the steps it takes to progress up the retail ladder. Most store managers are trailblazers in their own right , many with inspiring stories about how they worked from the ground up. In retail, anything is possible with a bit of hard work and determination! Sometimes it is worth taking a moment to remind your new additions of this!  

→ Fun!  If for no other reason, do it for the fun!  

Wishing you this years entries the very best of luck, we can’t wait to celebrate with you all on May 9th. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here

Top 10 Recruitment Tips

Top 10 Recruitment Tips

One of my clients is getting ready to open a brand-new convenience store. It’s such an exciting time, but he contacted me concerned that he was going to be unable to staff the store ahead of his impending opening date. I am looking after his key roles, but he asked me for some advice to help him through his upcoming staff recruitment drive.

It prompted me to put together a list for this months article of my top ten tips when recruiting staff for a retail job. Obviously, this list varies slightly with each role, but below are some nice guidelines which some may find useful.

Advertising – when you are writing a job advertisement , whether it’s for a shop front window or an online job board you should quantify the role clearly. Make sure to state the tasks, hours, location, salary and contact details and how to apply. It may seem simple but with over 1500 retail jobs on just one of the job boards as of today, it’s worth ensuring yours has the information potential candidates look for! You should seek to include details which will matter most to prospective employees such as pay and shift pattern, rather than use this space to over elaborate on what the role entails and what you are looking for.

Sell the job – ensure your advert is going to attract candidates to apply – rather than dissuade them from doing so. Oftentimes, retailers compose a job advert which is similar to a wish list of their perfect candidate. Listing endless skills and experience they must have in order to apply. This can lead to few or no relevant applications. Write the advert with the potential candidate in mind – think “WE OFFER” rather than “YOU MUST HAVE!”

Advertise in your locality – Local noticeboards, public spaces, libraries, and community colleges are all great sources of local talent and have the added bonus of hitting the exact demographic you are looking for. With “shorter commute times” one of the top reasons for making a move cited by jobseekers, it is well worth advertising locally to appeal to local hidden talent!

Look at your online job boards paid and unpaid options – these can be worthwhile to attract a decent volume of candidates, but remember they are only as good as the job advertisement you write. Make the role something YOU would like to apply to! When writing a job advert to go online ensure you are using phrases which a job seeker is likely to type into a search bar. “Sales Assistant” will always attract more applicants than “Sales Executive” and “Deli Assistant” will appear in far more searches than “Fresh Food Counter Hand.” If your store is part of a retail brand it is also worth reaching out to see if they can post the advert on their website directly for a wider reach.

Social media – This can be a really useful tool – use your company’s Facebook account and share your job (with a picture) with dedicated groups – such as job fairy boards – but remember to keep an eye on your comment section as well as inbox for responses.

Referrals – Past employees, current employees and customers can be great advocates for your business and you as an employer! Get networking!

Use an agency – (ahem, shameless plug here) Recruitment agencies are professional recruiters – At Excel we have a database of over 85,000 retail candidates and a team of specialist recruiters who understand the industry. This can be a particularly useful option when you are looking for management or specialist candidates as it can be challenging to find the right expertise on your own.

Move with urgency – in this current market you need to respond quickly to candidates who meet your criteria. It goes without saying – still go through your screening and vetting process – but it’s recommended doing them slightly quicker than before!

Job offers – when you are offering the job to your preferred candidate – offer the full package – list every available benefit and include them in your job offer letter. From free parking to free coffees, pensions and holidays – get it all down so that you can relay it to your chosen candidate and get them excited to join your business!

Retain your talent – following a survey of our database we have listed the top reasons candidates choose to remain with their current employer – the more of these you can offer to your team – the less likely they are to leave your business!

→ Career opportunities

→ A voice in the workplace

→ Progression

→ Flexibility

→ Fair pay

→ Fun perks

→ Work life balance

→ Additional Annual leave days

→ Inclusive Culture

Happy recruiting and good luck! For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here

Excel Recruitment ERF winner

Case Study: Successful workforce solutions for Butlers Chocolates

Excel Recruitment Case Study: Butlers Chocolates

Elevating Excellence in Industrial Staffing, Crafting Sweet Success With Our Workforce Solutions For Butlers Chocolates

About Butlers Chocolates

Butlers Chocolates began life in Dublin’s Lad Lane in 1932. The company now employs 500 staff across its factory located in North Dublin and the Butlers Chocolate Café network, which consists of 27 Butlers Chocolate Cafés in high-profile locations in Ireland, along with franchises in the Middle East and South Asia. Butlers Chocolates are exported across the world and are available in over 35 countries and 60 airports. The company is 100% Irish family owned.

Scope and Challenge 

Butlers BRC Grade A+ accredited manufacturing facility is located in Clonshaugh, North Dublin. The HR Team found it challenging to find sufficient numbers of quality staff to work in the factory due to labour shortages in the general operative space after the COVID Crisis. Butlers has several manufacturing peaks over the year in line with traditional chocolate gift giving occasions such as Easter and Christmas. The company needed flexibility to work in line with seasonal demand and employ quality staff at short notice for temporary periods as required.

How and where

Excel Recruitment and Butlers Chocolates. Michelle McBride, Retail Director, Butlers Chocolates and Board Member, Retail Excellence Ireland discussed this issue with Barry Whelan, CEO of Excel Recruitment (Corporate Partner to REI). Barry introduced Butlers Production and HR management team to Sarah Adams, Team Leader of the Industrial Recruitment Division in Excel. Sarah analysed the requirement and she and her team set about deploying Excel Recruitment temporary general operative staff to work in the factory. The staff was made up of qualified people, with manufacturing experience, looking to work locally in North Dublin where Butlers Chocolates is located.

The Outcome

In October 2022, Butlers took on board the first set of 8 temporary general operatives from Excel Recruitment. Excel supplied high-quality staff ready to work in machine operation, packing, and hygiene across the factory and warehouse. The number of temporary staff supplied by Excel peaked at 45. The supply of temporary staff helped Butlers produce in good time and ample volume to meet consumer demand. The ability to react quickly to increased manufacturing demand worked particularly well for Butlers management, as it gave them added flexibility as required. The quality of staff supplied was evident when 9 Excel recruitment temporary workers moved from employment with Excel to permanent employment with Butlers.

If you feel this might be a solution for your own business, contact Excel Recruitment regarding Temporary Staffing Solutions. Call 01 871 7676 or email 

Excel Recruitment Hospitality Team

Meet our expert hospitality team: Q&A

Meet the team behind the expert hospitality insights at Excel Recruitment. Answering some of the most pressing questions with regards to recruitment and the hospitality industry. Highlighting the the main trends and challenges within the sector in 2024.


Neil Redmond Neil Redmond, Hospitality Recruitment Consultant  

2 Quick facts about Neil:

› 4 years in recruitment

› 18 years working as a chef in 4 & 5 star hotels


What makes your approach to recruiting chefs stand out and uniquely positions you in the culinary talent market?

My unique approach to recruiting chefs is rooted in my extensive background of 18 years working as a chef myself. Starting from a young age, I honed my culinary skills through hands-on experimentation and professional experience in renowned establishments, working under the guidance of accomplished Chefs such as Dylan McGrath and Ryan Stringer. This journey allowed me to run my own restaurant, earn awards and contribute significantly to the opening and success if various high-profile properties. After spending years of my life in the hospitality industry, I’ve come to intimately understand the ups and downs faced by both chefs and establishments. The shift into hospitality recruitment industry felt like a natural next step, fuelled by my genuine passion for connecting the right talent with the right opportunities. Getting to know chefs isn’t part of the job for me – it’s something I genuinely enjoy. Having walked in their shoes, I grasp what they truly want from their careers and in a time where staffing shortage are widespread, my understanding of this industry allows me to bridge the gap between what individuals seek and what businesses need. It’s not just about placing; it’s about making connections that make sense for everyone involved and this is what helps me to excel when recruiting chefs for busy establishments.


Elaine Sherry

Elaine Sherry, Galway Branch Manager

2 Quick facts about Elaine:

› 6 years in hospitality recruitment

› Over 20 years working across the 4 major players in the contract catering industry


What significant transformations have you observed in the contract catering scene since you started?

Having worked in contract catering since the 1990’s, I’ve witnessed a remarkable transformation within the sector. Gone are the days when the workplace “canteen” languished in the basement, relegated to the shadows of the building. Today, workplace food services are not just an amenity but a pivotal employee benefit, recognised as an integral part of the business by employers. The evolution has been nothing short of phenomenal. Catering companies now orchestrate a symphony of services, adapting to diverse service times, culinary offerings and choices. This transformation stems from the changing landscape of workplaces, driven by increased diversity, a growing appetite for healthier and sustainable dining experiences and the advent of hybrid working models. The Covid-19 pandemic, far from impeding progress, prompted caterers to innovate and offer versatile solutions, tailor-made for diverse workplace environments. From co-working spaces to traditional offices, contract caterers now tailor their services with precision, addressing the unique needs of each client. The adaptability displayed during these challenging times has showcased the resilience and creativity of the industry. Intriguingly, the sector has become a magnet for top-tier talent seeking not just a job, but a career path characterised by continuous growth. Forward-thinking companies in this space understand the value of their employees’ contributions and invest wholeheartedly in continuous learning and development. Professionals within the contract catering sector now adeptly manage high-volume businesses, seamlessly blending quantity with quality. Their prowess in keeping the wheels of Irish industry turning every day is not just a testament to their skill but also to the sector’s indispensable role in the broader business landscape.


Kevin Marren

Kevin Marren, Hospitality Recruitment Consultant

2 Quick facts about Kevin:

› 2 years in recruitment

› 25 years working in hotels and bar groups


What do you anticipate as the key trends shaping the hotel industry in 2024?

In 2024, the hotel industry is likely to witness a significant shift in the labour market dynamics, driven by evolving preferences and expectations of workers. With the recent substantial increase in the minimum wage and the commitment to further align it with the living wage over the next two years, we can anticipate a growing emphasis on benefits and perks within the workforce. As employees increasingly prioritise factors beyond basic salary, hotels may experience a surge in demand for comprehensive benefit packages. This includes not only financial considerations but also perks such as health insurance, retirement plans and flexible work schedules. The adjustment to a higher minimum wage can act as a catalyst for businesses tore- evaluate and enhance their overall compensation packages to attract and retain top talent. Employees are becoming less inclined to adhere strictly to traditional working hours, seeking a better work-life balance. Hotels that are able to offer flexible scheduling options and perhaps even explore innovative arrangements like compressed work weeks may find themselves more appealing to prospective employees. In response to the changing landscape, hotels are expected to go beyond conventional benefits and explore creative solutions as salary hikes can only go so far. Having spoken to many of our clients, we have seen an increase in the standard benefits being offered to their staff, like pensions, extra holidays, 4-day weeks, etc. As the competition for skilled and motivated staff intensifies, staying tuned to these emerging trends will be crucial for hotels seeking to maintain a competitive edge for the coming year and beyond.


Jennifer Maher

Jennifer Maher, Director of Hospitality

2 Quick Facts about Jennifer:

› 15 years in recruitment

› 12 years working in bars, hotels, restaurants and front of house


What should the industry focus on amidst challenges?

Without a doubt, the biggest threat facing the hospitality industry in 2024 is the spiralling cost of employment. In 2023, businesses faced many closures due to challenges such as rising energy and staff costs, interest rate hikes and severe staff shortages, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors. While the government extended the 9% VAT reduction for gas and electricity until October 2024, it’s a broad measure and may not address the specific needs of struggling businesses. The hospitality and tourism sector, in particular, has been hit hard, with the VAT rate reinstated to 13.5% in September 2023. This has led to increased prices for hotel stays, meals and entertainment, causing people to cut back on discretionary spending. The combination of the 13.5% VAT rate and other impending government measures could be detrimental to businesses in this sector. One potential solution is reinstating the reduced 9% VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sector, extending it to other small businesses and providing relief to those struggling to stay afloat. Additionally, addressing staffing shortages is crucial. The current Stamp 2 visa model for international students is not fit for purpose as it limits their work hours and hinders their contribution to alleviating staff shortages. Adjusting the visa system to allow students to work more hours would benefit both their financial situation and industries relying on their labour force. Skilled staff are harder to come by, which has created a candidate-driven market and our business salary survey found that over 68% of respondents are struggling to attract and retain talent and will be utilising the services offered by recruitment agencies daily for permanent hires, temporary and contingency workforce in 2024. Excel boasts a pool of over 2,500 ready-to-deploy temporary workers and have assisted numerous businesses in similar scenarios. We welcome enquiries from both prospective candidates and clients, leveraging our experience to effectively meet your staffing needs. Looking ahead, the Government need to clarify the increased employment costs faced by Irish SMEs as a result of rises in the national minimum wage, the introduction of the planned living wage and other measures proposed to improve working conditions in Ireland, and they also need to put in place far greater business supports than those that are currently available to ensure a smooth transition for all.


If you need assistance with hospitality recruitment solutions, please contact the team today on 01 871 7676 or email You can check out all of our live hospitality roles here and chef roles here.

Do today’s candidates have less “staying power” than those in years gone by?

Do today’s candidates have less “staying power” than those in years gone by?

In today’s rollercoaster world of grocery retail candidates who start but don’t stay can cause huge disruption to any team or store. We are hearing more stories from retailers who have gone through full recruitment drives, inductions, and training delivery only to be told within the first few months that this new hire is already moving on.

Is this a generational thing? Do today’s candidates have less “staying power” than those in years gone by? Have we shifted to a culture where it’s now acceptable to let your feet do the talking to your employer by leaving a job where you are finding the going tough, or just slightly unpleasant?

So why is this happening? And what, if anything, can or should retailers do to reduce these flighty new starters?

Manage expectations

Candidates today certainly have higher expectations than those of previous years. Often what retail staff would have considered as a nice extra, is now a minimum expectation. Many candidates start new roles with skewed expectations of what their actual hours, responsibilities, or place in the businesses will be. Inevitably their expectations are much more favourable than the reality. When faced with this realisation many new starters are choosing to leave their new role and start over, rather than adjust or compromise. In most instances, ensuring full disclosure on all facets of a new job can dramatically reduce candidate “fallouts.” When we took a sample of candidates who had left their jobs in less than 6 months, the number one reason they stated was the role was not what they expected. Laying out your shift patterns, and contracted hours is imperative. However, retailers with better retention are going one step further and giving a detailed breakdown of the role they are offering – including challenges that may arise for a new hire.

First impressions count

Even in instances where retailers have done a thorough job of explaining the role, company and responsibilities, still a cohort of new starters will leave before they have even completed their training. Candidates now expect an enjoyable induction, to feel valued from arrival, and to be made feel like they are part of a team. They also look for a robust training plan which ranges from 6 weeks to 6 months, covering not only their role but company highlights, organisations plan, and wider social and cultural inclusions. This may feel like a big ask for some retailers, but setting aside some time to welcome on board each employee pays dividends. Poor induction or training was the second highest ranked on our list of reasons a new-hire leaves.

Market demands

Today’s recruitment market is still candidate-led – meaning that candidates have ample choice between employers. It is widely understood by today’s candidates, particularly at entry-level and slightly above, that they have the “upper hand.” It’s a phenomenon that arose from an overheated market, coupled with a mindset shift over the last 5 years. Any employer who is not aware of this new employee attitude is unlikely to have much success with their new team additions. When I asked several retailers how they are managing this shift, the most successful all seem to have one thing in common. They are investing more time and resources in their recruiting and onboarding practices.


Long gone are the days of training solely by “shadowing”. Today’s new starters tend to spend days clicking through online training and signing sheets of compliance documents. This is often followed by off-site training or training in a different store to get a more “well-rounded” experience. The problem here is that while “shadowing” is no longer seen as best practice in most incidents – what it did do well was appoint a mentor by default. Someone who could help you understand the culture of the store and guide you to find your fit within it. A lot of the candidates who left prematurely made statements like – “I was left,” “forgotten about” or “ignored.” Appointing a mentor or following the old routine of shadowing one team member during the first few critical weeks really limits this and is certainly food for thought!


My favourite one-size-fits-all solution. I believe open, honest, direct, and fair feedback can improve any professional relationship and it appears that it has an impact in these scenarios too. Another reason cited by these leavers was a lack of appreciation or feedback. Today’s candidates are unwilling to wait for the 6-month review to get a pat on the back – weekly and monthly check-ins are the way forward in order to hang on to those newbies!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here

How to work as a refugee in Ireland

How to work as a refugee in Ireland

Want to work as a refugee in Ireland?

If you are a refugee and want to work with Excel there are a couple of required documents that we need before we can get you started with us.

– Temporary Residence Certificate (Blue Card)

– Permission to Access the Labour Market letter

These documents must both be in date in order for you to work in Ireland.

You should apply for renewal 8-12 weeks before the renewal date.

For TRC (blue card) renewals you must apply separately. All TRC renewal requests should be sent to the International Protection Office For all Permission to Access the Labour Market letters email

You can apply via email or by post.

Applying by email is advised with the word “renewal” in the subject line.

If you work without a valid permission, you shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a class D fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 month, or both.

Please click here for more information.

5 things you should keep in mind when applying for your next big career move

5 things to keep in mind when applying for your next big career move

New Year, New job? 

February tends to be one of our busiest months for retailers looking for a move. With many too busy to interview in December and often taking some time back with family and taking stock of their lot through January – It tends to be February by the time they contact us to discuss their new year’s resolution of finding a new job.  

So, for those looking for a move here is a list of 5 things you should keep in mind when applying or interviewing for your next big move.  

Understand your WHY!  

When you are applying to new roles it’s really important to know your motivating factor, and more important to keep it at the forefront of your mind. If you are making a move for a better work-life balance, then make sure you are applying to roles that offer less contracted hours or advertise a nicer shift pattern. It’s easy to get distracted by €€€ signs and fancy titles, but if your reason for making a move is lost in the process chances are you won’t be any happier!  

Honesty is the best policy!  

Look,  I know plenty of people exaggerate on their CV. But my honest advice is DON’T. The Irish Grocery industry is a tight-knit sector, where you are likely to have interactions with previous employers at some point in the future! Don’t be tempted to say you were running a €1 million a week store if it wasn’t or that you were the Store Manager in all but name if you weren’t. Firstly, you likely won’t be able to back this up when you delve further into your experience but more importantly, being honest about your experience will earn the respect of the person interviewing you. Ultimately most employers are looking for integrity in their new hires.  

Similarly, be upfront and honest when explaining your reason for making a move – It’s nearly always apparent when a candidate says they “just need a change” that you are not getting the whole story. If you are not honest around this, you are doing yourself a disservice and indeed your new employer. If you are leaving because your last manager was a micro-manager and you don’t enjoy that environment – explain that – otherwise, you are likely to end up repeating the same mistakes. If you are looking for fewer hours or more money, explain that also – that way you are allowing a new employer to meet your needs, or pass. But no matter which – you will still be moving in the right direction for you.  

Don’t be tempted to overstate your salary either – if you are moving for more money that is okay, and it’s okay to explain that to a potential new employer. But be honest, otherwise you might get yourself excluded from a salary increase because you have overstated your current package! 

What are your wins?

You should have a list of 3-7 “wins” that you have achieved in each role you have held.  If you can summarise these I would include them on your CV. Either way, I always recommend jotting them down before an interview, so they are fresh in your mind on the day!  

These “wins” or achievements are the most accurate representation of you and your experience – and they will go a long way in an interview when you are asked for examples.  

These wins may range from driving sales in a specific department or reducing waste, to a couple examples of amazing customer service or passing an audit or indeed developing the people around you.  

Do your research 

I cant overstate the importance of this one! You should assume the first or second question you will be asked in any interview is “What do you know about us” or “Why do you want to work for us” and prepare accordingly.  

Aside from coming across well in the interview – you should also do your research about the company and job beforehand and ensure that the job you are interviewing aligns with your “WHY”. If you are looking for a better work-life balance – speak to some of their past or current managers and ask some questions about this! If it’s a shorter commute have a look at their store locations and see where you are happy to commute to.  

If your “why” and their business are not aligned, then this is unlikely the role for you and it’s better to identify that than waste everyone’s time! 

Be prepared for counter offers 

I have seen time and again that most candidates who accept counter offers still go on to make a move within 6 months – frustrating everyone in the process.  

My advice is this – before you go on to the market – speak up! Have an open honest chat with your employer – at least that way you will know if they would like you to stay and if they have any scope to meet your needs. You don’t have to hand your notice in – just explain your situation and ask if you could work together on a solution or plan. Think of what you would need from your current employer to stay. Are you actually happy in your current role but want to be paid more? Or want Wednesdays off? or perhaps want some progression opportunities? Or more autonomy? Have that conversation before going to market – not after!  

Other than that good luck!  

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here


Benefits when attracting and retaining staff

Benefits when attracting and retaining staff

Most retailers are facing a significant increase in their wage budget from this January. This increase, coupled with additional sick days, the upcoming new February bank holiday costs and imminent pension auto-enrolment is forcing employers to look at more creative ways of attracting and retaining staff that won’t break the bank. We have seen that whilst staff won’t stay in a job where they feel undervalued or underpaid, money is not the main driving factor most employees consider when making a move.

With this in mind, we have reached out to various retailers and retail managers across the grocery industry to provide a list of bonuses and benefits you can consider adding to your package which may help when it comes to attracting new staff as well as retaining your current team.

Work Life Balance

This comes in the form of advanced rotas, flexible shifts, remote or hybrid working patterns, scheduling weekend off rotations, reduced contract hours, or job sharing. The focus on Work-life balance has never been higher – with more and more candidates citing this as their main motivating factor when looking for a move. Whilst remote working is often not a viable option in our sector, many retailers have been working to improve contracted hours or offer a little more flexibility to their teams, and have been reaping the rewards of lower staff turnover as a result.


Company car and fuel allowance are not always viable benefits you can offer. But the bike to work and the Annual Tax Saver Travel schemes are benefits most businesses can offer at a relatively low cost which add real value to their workforce. I’ve seen roles that require travel advertised without the mention of a car, mileage or fuel allowance. Only to find out these roles offered fully expensed company vehicles, but they had not thought to include this as a perk in their job ad. I’m confident this would have deterred numerous suitable candidates from applying.


Many retailers offer in-store staff discounts, ranging from free or subsidized lunches or coffees to 20% off their weekly shop. However, these discounts are often only disclosed when a new employee starts – rather than as part of the advertising campaign or even offer letter. Another great and highly valued perk comes in the form of group discounts. It is often worth reaching out to local businesses and asking if they will offer a small discount for your staff in return for the same for theirs. Many local gyms will also offer discounts when approached and being able to offer discounted or subsided gym membership is a substantial perk to many. I have seen discounts on everything from childcare and chemists to driving lessons and bakeries – it takes a little leg work but definitely worth the effort!

Annual Leave

Annual leave can be a deal breaker for many candidates when it comes to accepting a new role. Increasing annual leave with length of service is a wonderful way of rewarding and retaining those with the most experience in your business. “Birthday days off” is another benefit that has a significant impact on culture and retention. A number of retailers give their staff one additional day’s leave to be taken on their birthday. Obviously this incurs a cost to the store, but this novel incentive has such a positive impact on staff that I think it’s a worthwhile one to consider.

Employee Engagement Initiatives

These are less tangible and usually less costly, but that’s not to say they are any less impactful. Arranging initiatives or small incentives to keep employees feeling appreciated or part of a team goes a long way. Ideas here range from birthday cakes and celebrations to involving store staff in charity walks, fundraising drives, or community clean-ups. Employee recognition schemes – from €5 store vouchers for “staff member of the day” to employee awards events add to the sense of accomplishment and teamwork in most businesses and are a great way to build a positive culture in which people are reluctant to leave! Perhaps include Christmas parties or team bonding events to your list of benefits, if this is something you offer. Or maybe something to consider if you don’t.


Don’t forget to include all those benefits employees can now avail of – regardless of whether they are something your business started or which is now mandated, such as sick pay, upcoming pensions, maternity leave, paternity leave, or parental leave.

Employee wellness

Many employers are offering Employee assistant programs or mental health days. Others offer discounts on doctor’s or dental visits. Healthcare insurance can be an overburdening cost to many retailers, but you may find – with a little research – a health insurer willing to offer a small discount to your staff.


Nearly all the retailers I speak with offer excellent training and development as well as ample opportunities for growth and career development. This is certainly a perk worth shouting about as it is one of the highest-ranked benefits cited by employees looking for a move. If you offer mentoring and coaching to new employees, access to e-learning platforms, or indeed the opportunity to avail of further education it’s definitely worth shouting about.

Every Little Counts

In my experience, it’s worth listing every benefit you can offer – it really may be the difference between someone accepting or declining your job, or indeed the difference in one of your team accepting or declining a job offer from a competitor! Feel free to list everything from “free parking” and “free uniform” to “great location” and “competitive pay rates” – as they say – every little helps!

Shout it from the Rooftops (or Store Fronts)

It’s worth noting that the retailers who are most successful at attracting talent directly are the ones who shout loudest about their benefits. If you go onto the website of some of the most well-known value retailers, you will see their benefits highlighted on every page. Yet many other retailers offer similar if not better benefits and they are nearly a secret! My advice, for what it’s worth, is to list every single benefit – from statutory sick days, training programs, and EAP to Bike to Work and free coffees. It makes potential new hires take notice and potential leavers think twice!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here


impact of national minimum wage increases

Examining the impacts of National Minimum Wage increases

A lot of questions have been coming our way about the knock-on impact of the upcoming National Minimum Wage increase, in particular, how stores will be responding across the various levels of the business in order to remain competitive.

This impending increase of €1.40 reflects a 12.4% increase in just 12 months. The NMW increased, in total, €1.85 across 8 years from 2014 to 2022, with yearly manageable increases. However, we are seeing an increase of €2.20 per hour, equating to 21%, in just the two most recent increases. This increase is more than double the rate of wage increases across the state and understandably is having a significant impact on retailers across the country.

The most common question we are being asked is how retailers are responding across the rest of their store’s teams.

Entry Level Management Roles

Trainee Managers, Duty Managers, Team Leaders, and Store Supervisors were typically earning €26,000 to €28,000 a couple of years ago. This was an entry-level role where they gained experience and was a first step on the retail career ladder. The medium here now equates to the 2023 NMW for a 45 hour week.

There are many instances where the rates of minimum wage store staff have increased but this junior level Manager has not moved and so this level are being paid only slightly more than the teams they are managing. So, the issue here is one that impacts the entire store team. And this is what is causing concern for retailers across the country.

In an effort at fairness, many stores are increasing these junior managers’ salaries by the same percentage as the minimum wage increase. This means by the end of 2022 many, if not most of these junior managers were starting at €28,000 – €30,000 PA. However, a 21% increase from 2022 to 2024 would now bring an entry-level, junior management candidate to €36,000! A salary many experienced managers are on. This in turn causes an increase across the next level of managers – from assistant managers to fresh food and store managers. The question is, where does this become too crippling a cost for store owners to bear?

Natural Market Increase 

That’s not to say that the minimum wage is a bad thing – indeed – it’s important that all are paid fairly, however, it’s this knock-on effect which needs to be taken into account, to ensure stores stay profitable and all those working are being paid fairly. The low unemployment rate has already caused a natural increase in the minimum wage for good staff over the last couple of years. Meaning that any retailers who worked hard could expect an increase from their employer in order to retain them. This market balance means stores are paying those who work hardest more and have the budget to reward those who deserve it.

Retailer’s Response 

Many of the retailers I spoke to are already paying their staff above minimum wage. However, 2024 will force an increase that brings all staff to the same level regardless of their performance.

Other retailers will offset this cost by trimming hours in their stores where possible.

More still will look at their ratio of under 18 staff and seek to balance their wage bill by ensuring they have a mix of under 18 staff and more experienced staff. However, with the current legislation around under 18s selling alcohol and tobacco, this is often not an option!

Wage Wars

This 2024 increase will see the “levelling out” of salaries. This means many competing employers will start increasing again in order to attract top talent in a still overheated employment market.

Some retailers suggested that rather than compete with more “wage wars” against other employers they will look at their contracted hours, shift patterns, benefit packages, and reward schemes. This seems to be the most palatable solution going forward as any additional increases past Januarys increase seem most unpalatable.

What’s next

Considering the substantial increase of 2024, the projected NMW increase of 2025, the additional February Bank Holiday,  the additional sick pay, and the auto enrolment for pensions, many retailers will be looking long and hard at their P&L sheets this year end.

2024 will likely see retailers making sure they get the most value for money in terms of new hires, paying a little more for a lot more talent by moving up the ladder to more experienced hires and adjusting their overall packages to remain an employer of choice and attracting the best talent available to drive their stores forward.

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here