Business & Real Estate

Companies can buck tradition with mass hiring blitz

Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. set out to hire 4,000 employees on Wednesday as part of its inaugural National Career Day, the type of feel-good story that gives hope to anxious job seekers.
Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. set out to hire 4,000 employees on Wednesday as part of its inaugural National Career Day, the type of feel-good story that gives hope to anxious job seekers. AP

Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. set out to hire 4,000 employees on Wednesday as part of its inaugural National Career Day, the type of feel-good story that gives hope to anxious job seekers.

Even as the fast-casual food chain that already employed 60,000 people was still tabulating numbers from the hiring blitz, Chipotle succeeded in another important area: It drew thousands of potential employees and garnered national attention at the same time.

Although not on the scale of the Chipotle push, the Sacramento area has seen some mass hires, especially in another rapidly growing business segment: solar power. Local employment experts couldn’t predict whether the mass-hiring method will catch on with other employers, but recent events by SolarCity offered a nontraditional way of reaching potential employees, said Jonathan Bass, SolarCity’s vice president of communications.

We’re always looking for new ways to connect with potential hires

Jonathan Bass, SolarCity’s vice president of communications

In June 2014, the San Mateo-based company – which bills itself as the nation’s largest solar power provider – hosted a “100 Jobs in 100 Days” career fair at its Granite Bay office.

Then in March this year, SolarCity announced plans to hire “at least 300 additional employees” for the sales staff at its Roseville offices.

“We’re trying to fill dozens of current openings in Roseville and Sacramento in sales, operations, IT and engineering, and we’re always looking for new ways to connect with potential hires,” Bass said. “We’ve found hundreds of employees through hiring fairs – including a highly successful event in Roseville earlier this year. They’re a great way to get to know candidates in a less formal setting.”

Despite Chipotle’s marketing success, some employment analysts still noted that the chain’s typical entry-level job pays only about $10 an hour. Compensation at fast-food restaurants has been a hot-button issue lately, with street marches in Sacramento and elsewhere urging a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

But, “From a marketing standpoint, it was quite a coup for Chipotle,” said Peter Schaub, a New York-based marketing and branding expert. “Media from coast to coast picked up that story … From that standpoint, it doesn’t matter if the jobs were paying $5 an hour; Chipotle gets positive news by hiring thousands in one swoop.”

The hiring binge certainly did not hurt Chipotle’s stock. On Thursday, the day after National Career Day, Chipotle shares rose $4.36 to close at $723.19 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

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