Chipotle Just Gave Away the Perfect High-Volume Hiring Blueprint

Chipotle Just Gave Away the Perfect High-Volume Hiring Blueprint

Mike Roberts

holiday hiring best practiceWith another Labor Day in the books, the most hectic time of the year is now fast approaching for retailers. The drastic rise in shopping activity through the holidays means lots of high-volume, local hiring—a challenging position to be in for anyone in talent acquisition. Although every retailer has its own way of staffing up for seasonal demand, the holistic recruiting strategy behind today’s National Career Day event could enlighten us all.

On August 24, Chipotle announced plans to hire 4,000 people in a single day. This comes at a time when, according to the National Restaurant Association, the sector saw the employee turnover rate rise for the fourth year in a row to nearly 66% in 2014. With the fluidity of retail and restaurant employment, there’s a case to be made for being the company people actually want to work for—the exact approach Chipotle has taken.

The reality is, having the ability to host such a single-day hiring event is merely a benefit of Chipotle’s much longer-term, multi-faceted recruiting strategy. In this post, we’ll inspect some of the key elements from that strategy that translate over to retail—for those preparing for their annual (often dreaded) holiday hiring spree.

Employer Branding Generates Organic Interest

At a time when people are becoming more health-conscious, and some lower quality fast-food restaurants are closing down as a consequence of waning demand, it’s almost as if Chipotle’s National Career Day is as much a hiring event as it is a display of the strength behind its robust corporate and employer brands.

As we mentioned a few weeks back, Chipotle has made it a point to be as progressive in its employer brand as it has been in its commitment to provide sustainably-sourced options to the masses. To that end, there’s been a recent buzz around improvements to the company’s benefits for part-time employees as well as the idea that someone could make a career out of working at Chipotle—going from the burrito line to management. There’s since been thousands of articles and blogs written on these topics, in addition to tens of thousands of social media posts.

With that foundation laid, in August it wasn’t just the announcement that some company was hiring 4,000 people in one day, it was almost more important that Chipotle was the company doing the hiring.

Few retailers can say they’ve generated this type of hype around their employer brand, but what it translates to is organic interest in your opportunities as well as more cost-effective talent acquisition over time. A recent survey showed that only 27% of companies actually have a formal employer branding program. And although Chipotle has been working on its program for years, that doesn’t mean you can’t start now.

Mobile-Only Internet Users (a.k.a. Job Seekers) Are the New Normal

For years, we’ve been monitoring the rise of the mobile-only internet user (someone who accesses the internet almost exclusively from a mobile device) and its impact on candidate experience.

This shift away from desktop toward mobile has been two-fold. In many instances, it’s a matter of it being more economical for a user to have only one device to access the internet. In other cases, it’s behavior-based, meaning users are now preferring mobile as an internet entry-point, regardless of whether or not they have access to traditional desktop machines.

To validate that trend, we can look to a recent article by technologist and venture capitalist, Benedict Evans. He said, “Mobile is not a subset of the internet anymore, that you use only if you’re waiting for a coffee or don’t have a PC in front of you – it’s becoming the main way that people use the internet.”

Chipotle has been ahead of the curve when it comes to optimizing candidate experience for users on all devices. When Chipotle first partnered with Jibe back in 2014 to deliver a next-generation mobile apply experience, the company noted in a press release that it had almost 5,000 mobile applications submitted in just its first week with the solution—roughly 20% of all submissions.

Our team took a quick look at Chipotle’s recent application submission data. Comparing the number of applications submitted two weeks prior to the August 24 National Career Day announcement to the number submitted two weeks after the announcement, the number increased by 65%.

Having the option to apply via mobile in 2015 is crucial to the both retail and restaurant sectors. And yet, many companies’ Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) don’t offer the option to apply via mobile, or they offer an experience that seriously impedes the rate of completed applications (see our previous article for more on that: ATS Apply Flows: Where Candidate Experience Goes To Die).

All of the awesome employer branding in the world won’t matter if a candidate can’t easily apply via mobile.

The New Candidate Journey Means More Candidate Touch Points

The breadth of Chipotle’s recruiting arsenal goes well beyond employer branding and apply flow optimization—especially for its National Career Day hiring event.

The company has its own event-specific landing page, so people could find it via Google. In addition, it has a search engine optimized (SEO) career site, so all of its jobs are easy to find. For a while now, Chipotle has also been leveraging next-generation recruiting strategies such as nurture marketing with job alerts and the option to opt-into a talent network.

From the moment the candidate decides it’s time to get a new job, to her first Google search of “chipotle jobs Philadelphia,” all the way to opting into job alerts and applying for a position, she’s running through a number of candidate touch points Chipotle is working to optimize. Not many companies can say this—in fact, many retailers are still simply working with out-of-the-box ATS experiences and job boards.

When all of these new candidate journey touch points are working and being improved upon in unison, it not only takes pressure off of recruiters, it also starts lowering the cost-per-applicant over time. Social recruiting, employer branding, talent pipeline building, SEO—the results start to compound. Chipotle has set the blueprint for what what a good long-term recruiting strategy encompasses, and its high-volume hiring event is the purest form of validation that it’s moving in the right direction.

Interested in learning more about what it takes to build a modern candidate experience? Check out our new “9-Point Checklist for Building a Next-Generation Candidate Experience.”

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