Get to know the JRoss Retail Recruiters Team in Central & Eastern Canada

Meet the people who deliver service that truly sets the bar higher.

Who we are

As Canada’s leading retail recruiters, we’re a proven team of professionals working from offices across the country, committed to helping great brands hire exceptional leaders.

We use our specialized knowledge of the industries we serve - retail - to help great brands find strong leaders who are motivated to be long-term contributors. Whether a search is for management, key support or executive roles, our team has the networks, the experience, and the desire to find the best retail professional for each opportunity.

What sets our team apart?

The common motivational thread for our retail recruiters is the strong personal satisfaction they get from positively impacting people’s lives. There’s no feeling in the world like helping candidates find the right positions and helping clients find the right candidates.

Recruiting has always been a people-driven industry. But now, in this time of COVID-19, we’ve found the personal relationships and networks we cultivate to be particularly powerful. In that vein, we thought you might want to learn more about the people who are working hard to find exceptional retail professionals like you for retail organizations across the country.

So we came up with a lightning round of questions to get them talking.

Meet the Retail team in Central & Eastern Canada :

Jackie Ross, Lead Recruiter, Vancouver
For Jackie’s full profile, click here.

With over 18 years of experience as co-founder of Canada’s leading recruiting agency focused on the service sector industries, Jackie is an invaluable advisor and resource for our clients and our team.

Her success comes from focusing on customer service, her deep industry knowledge, her entrepreneurial spirit and her ability to train and lead teams across Canada. As a Regional Manager in the apparel sector, Jackie was a natural networker. Her start as a recruiter came when she was asked to join Dumont and Associates and support the build-out of an apparel division for the agency. It seemed like it would be an incredible natural fit, and it was. Jackie was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with a broad range of leading brands to help them acquire the key managerial talent so they could grow and succeed, and she’s never looked back.

What motivates and inspires you?

Working with Canada's, and the world's, leading brands. Helping them find the best managerial talent in the Canadian marketplace while helping inspiring leaders find meaningful employment that positively affects them and the lives of their families.

I’m inspired by the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the leaders in our industries – merchants who curate assortments, marketers who craft brand stories, chefs who take the culinary experience to a whole new level, and hoteliers who provide exceptional guest experiences. Every day I'm motivated to connect with more people, to learn more about what's driving our consumer facing industry forward, and to learn what their needs are for the future.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I’m proud of building an agency with a tenured team of recruiters who are committed to the industries we serve, and who have the ability to work consultatively with our clients.

We’re a team of industry professionals who have collectively built strong networks and who place a high degree of value on those relationships. We’ve been able to assist both national and global brands expand their business in Canada, and we’ve helped launch entirely new retail industry sectors. We’ve collectively worked together to help thousands of people find meaningful employment and to help great companies hire fantastic leaders. All of those results have come from the great relationships we built with our community and through our networks, through supporting our associations and through other partnerships.

What are some of the biggest obstacles the industry is currently facing in terms of staffing?

In a very short period of time we’ve gone from historically low unemployment rates and acute labour shortages, to an abundant supply of talent. At no point in history has such a sudden switch from a candidate-driven market to an employer-driven market occurred. We believe this will be the situation for the short to mid term, but this will not be the long term status quo.

Even now, it’s more difficult to entice those currently employed to consider making a move in these economic circumstances. Yet overall, there’s still an opportunity at this point for organizations to hire the best possible teams, to position themselves for future growth. Ultimately, we’re going to see a lot of talent exchange happening as retail professionals seek out roles with organizations they perceive as having the strongest potential to survive - and who have handled themselves with integrity and transparency, living up to their brand promises throughout this crisis. When the pandemic passes, that will prove to be very advantageous for those firms.

What’s the best advice you have for job seekers?

  • Get clear on what you want and research your target companies
  • Tailor your resume and application to each job
  • Create your online brand
  • Build, cultivate, and utilize your network of contacts

What's proven to be the most effective method today for sourcing top talent?

Networking. Building and maintaining a network that will provide you with qualified referrals is the most effective way to source top talent. Great people want to work with great people. If you spend the time to connect with key leaders in the industry, they'll refer you to the best people in the market when you have positions available. If you want to be a great recruiter, you have to be a fantastic networker.

If you can give hiring managers some advice, what would it be?

With smaller teams dealing with a huge rise in applicants, it’s more important than ever to drive efficiencies and effectiveness in the hiring process. But it’s also about maintaining a great candidate experience. Candidates are often customers too, and how an organization conducts itself during the hiring process contributes to how people feel not just about its employer brand, but its commercial brand too. The tricky part of recruiting when there is an oversupply of available candidates is managing candidate volume and the candidate experience simultaneously. If you can keep the candidate volume down to a level that is manageable, then you can ensure their experience moving through your processes is a positive one. One of the ways to do that is to hyper-target only the most suitable candidates. This actually isn’t advice exclusive to a mid-pandemic world, it’s actually the same advice I’d give pre-pandemic: targeted recruiting makes sense in any economic climate.

What was your best hotel stay ever and why?

When I need to get away, I want to go to the Wickaninnish Inn, in Tofino on the very western tip of Vancouver Island. It’s situated in an incredibly beautiful setting on Chesterman Beach. It’s a luxurious Relais & Chateau property but it also feels unpretentious. It's family-owned and operated and you can just see the care and attention paid to every detail, including the best levels of personalized service. I always feel very grounded when I’m connected to the ocean and hike in the old growth forests.

What’s the advice you would give your younger self if you could go back in time?

Be bold. Be brave. Take calculated risks and really step up to the challenge.

Rachel Bennett, Recruiter, Toronto
For Rachel’s full profile, click here.

Rachel is no stranger to recruiting. In fact, before she joined JRoss Retail Recruiters, she worked in talent acquisition with Starbucks Canada and TJX Canada, two of Canada’s largest retailers. When she connected with Jackie Ross and learned more about the client base and dynamic business model Jackie supported, she thought it would be a very good fit. Rachel has been with JRoss since 2011.

What motivates and inspires you? What makes you excited to get to your desk every day?

The excitement of connecting people to the right opportunity. I enjoy partnering with clients on their needs and supporting candidates with opportunities that really help their career trajectory. Retail is an exciting industry; it’s innovative, constantly evolving and I love being a part of it. I’m also very social and I get a lot of energy from my connections. I’ve met many amazing people in retail over the years.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

My network and the connections I’ve made over the years. It’s impactful when a client I worked with 5-10 years ago reaches out and wants to partner on an opportunity – those long-term connections mean so much.

What are some of the biggest obstacles the industry is currently facing in terms of staffing?

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously hit retail and other industries very hard, and there are so many people out there looking for work. And of course, companies are facing unprecedented challenges in terms of pivoting to meet changes in shopper buying patterns. It’s more important than ever to ensure they have the best teams in place to take their business through these challenging times, from executive leadership to front lines. That means selecting just the right retail professional from a larger than normal pool of candidates.

What’s the best advice you have for job seekers?

  • Your network is critical. Now is the time to use and expand it as much as possible.
  • Consider your profile, your personal brand, make yourself visible. Build a compelling professional social media presence and resume.
  • Build connections, reach out to hiring managers or HR leaders at organizations they aspire to work with.
  • Sign up to job alerts with company sites which are of interest, as well as with various job boards, join professional associations - use as many different channels as possible.

What's proven to be the most effective method today for sourcing top talent?

My own network is extensive. JRoss’ database is exceptionally deep and using referrals and direct outreach is always quite successful. It’s my job to save the hiring manager time, to streamline and build the best shortlist for our clients.

If you can give a hiring manager some advice, what would it be?

Consider the transferable skills of candidates. Many technical skills can be taught, but behaviors, work ethic and attitude are key traits in determining a candidates’ ability to be successful.

What was your best retail experience ever and why?

I can’t say there’s only one – the best experiences for me across retail and hospitality are the personal ones. Whether I go into my favorite store and they know me by name and are excited to show me what’s new, or when we go to our favorite local restaurant and our drinks are poured by the time we sit down, those are the experiences that mean the most. It’s the people that make a memorable experience.

Stefani Little, Recruiter, Toronto
For Stefani’s full profile, click here.

Stefani didn’t come to the recruiting industry in the traditional retail route. She was in a sales role for commercial printing when digital hit the press industry hard and she found herself looking for new opportunities. Once she took a chance on sales for her first non-tangible product - Kelly Recruitment Services - she fell in love with it and hasn’t looked back. And her sales background makes her a natural. She joined the JRoss team in 2016.

What motivates and inspires you? What makes you excited to get to your desk every day?

Specializing in retail is a passion of mine. When I first started in recruitment, the candidates were passionate about the industry and I decided that passion was what I wanted to focus on. Recruiting has a heartbeat of its own. I’m the person who can help both sides of the equation - I love the networking and the sourcing piece. I like being the connection between the two.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

In the recruitment space, I’ve worked on both sides of the industry: staffing (3rd party) and the client side. I’ve been the Manager of Talent Acquisition at Holt Renfrew, where talent would come to us and I’ve also worked with recruiting agencies where candidate sourcing was key. And now I’m on the agency side, helping retail organizations across the country source great talent.

What are some of the biggest obstacles the industry is currently facing in terms of staffing?

There’s definitely a saturation of staffing firms. Although JRoss has been built on credibility, it’s still tough to set yourself apart even in the “specialty” or “boutique” arena. And when there’s an economic crisis or a pandemic, it changes the needs of the client. However, many organizations don’t have their own in-house talent acquisition teams. So in an employers’ market, there are clients still using our services because they need someone to qualify applicants and narrow the list down.

What’s the best advice you have for job seekers?

  • Network, then network some more. People like to pay it forward, so spend time building relationships
  • Stay tuned in to what’s happening in the workforce in their area of specialty
  • Develop a solid resume that sells them apart from others. Often resumes look like job descriptions. You have one chance to get in front of someone and you need to have a clean, concise resume
  • Apply to the jobs that are appropriate for your skill set. Keep your profile up to date

What's proven to be the most effective method today for sourcing top talent?

Because we headhunt, the obvious social platform I use is LinkedIn. I have a large network through LinkedIn, it’s like a little black book. But I treat it as more of a networking tool as opposed to a marketing tool. JRoss also maintains a huge and constantly growing internal database of talent that we’ve networked with in the past or have placed. Every search usually has candidates sourced from a blend of referrals, LinkedIn, the JRoss database and my network.

What was your best retail experience ever and why?

We started renovating our kitchen during COVID. So when it came time, I bought some leather chairs from West Elm online. When I called their Customer Service, the representative asked me if I remembered him. He had reached out to me when he first arrived in Canada the year before. He must have felt a personal connection so he followed up on my purchase. He sent a lovely email and said that he had felt welcomed by my response at the time. He just wanted to pay it forward.

What’s the advice you would give your younger self if you could go back in time?

Get into recruitment earlier. I’m a very outgoing individual. I like to meet new people every day. Recruitment involves conversations that are ongoing for years. To this day, I still have connections who reach out and remind me when we spoke of opportunities years ago, even when I was with a different employer, and say they’re interested in my representing them.

Christina Athans, Recruiter, Montreal
For Christina’s full profile, click here.

Christina became a recruiter “by accident”, she says. She was supporting both retail and wholesale at Mexx-Liz Claiborne in 2006, when she began investigating a career opportunity through JRoss. When the opportunity fell through, we offered her a position here instead. She jumped in “with both feet” and we’re thrilled she did.

What motivates and inspires you every day?

I've run my desk with up to 18 different mandates active at one time. The variety and the ability to switch tracks and work on something new and different is exciting for me. I like working with different companies, different corporate cultures, and different product categories from fashion to mass merchandise to even automotive products.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

When I impact someone's life positively as a candidate, because we're not just placing widgets into a machine. I've been there, I've walked a mile in the shoes of candidates. I always want to bring the best and brightest to the client as well, to impact their business by bringing stellar people who can bring positive change.

What are some of the biggest obstacles the industry is currently facing in terms of staffing?

Candidates tell me they don't get feedback. They feel like they're being treated as a number. I think for recruitment to really be impactful and make a difference, people need to take that extra time and talk to someone. Even if you don't have a job for them right now, you can make a difference in their life, listen to them, talk to them. People always remember how you made them feel.

What’s the best advice you have for job seekers?

  • Be prepared
  • Do your homework
  • Be humble, but be confident at the same time. That's a delicate line to walk. You have to sell yourself as an expert, but not come across as being cocky
  • Be open to learn
  • Always be yourself

What's proven to be the most effective method today for sourcing top talent?

Personally, it's my network. It's the people I speak to. I know I can reach out and ask for referrals. Sometimes they have someone and sometimes they don't, but that's generally the most effective way I get candidates.

If you can give a hiring manager some advice, what would it be?

Be honest, work with integrity, be informative. It's important when I contact a candidate that I have all the information the client is willing to share. The candidate can then make an informed decision about going on this journey with me. I encourage candidates to do their due diligence as well, but I need to have enough information that it speaks to them on some level professionally, culturally, challenge-wise, compensation-wise, whatever the reason is they're looking for a new position.

What’s the best advice you would give your younger self if you could go back in time?

It’s OK to make mistakes. As women, we often feel we have to be perfect. We have to know everything before we speak up, we have to present perfectly. I would say failure is how you learn.

At JRoss, we’re as excited today as we've ever been about the opportunities in the retail industry. We continue to watch the transitions that are happening now and those still coming. Whether it be service innovation or digital transformation, we look forward to new and different ways retail organizations engage with customers. Those things continue to ignite our desire to help great brands find the best leaders they can – leaders like you - to make their organizations successful.

To meet our full team you can check out their profiles on our website.

To learn more on this and other retail trends and insights you can check out our blog.

Written by Patricia Viscount and Rob Fisher