Mike Miller, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s director of talent acquisition, admits the fast casual is having to “dig deep” as it seeks to hire some 20,000 new workers during a historically tight labor market.
“We can’t take for granted initiatives, platforms and programs that have worked in the past,” Miller said. “These are unprecedented times.”
So, Chipotle is getting creative.
With a week’s planning, the chain hosted a virtual job fair on the communications platform Discord—popular among gamers—earlier this month. Chipotle, one of the first restaurant brands to get active on TikTok, promoted the event via its social channels and had 3,700 people sign up for the brand’s Discord server, Miller said.
About 700 to 850 people participated consistently in the event, which included a variety of chat rooms in which Chipotle leaders could talk about benefits, career paths and more.
“It was a simple, effective platform to have direct conversations with our friends out there, some of whom might be interested in joining us,” he said. “The entire thing, from the first conversation, from inception to execution, was one week. It reminded me of who we are when we’re at our best. Scrappy and nimble and resourceful, connecting directly with our guests.”
The same week Chipotle announced its Discord job fair, it made an even bigger announcement: The burrito chain said it would raise its average hourly pay to $15.
The combo of those two events led to Chipotle receiving 24,000 employment applications in one week, a 77% jump over the previous week, Miller said.
After pandemic wariness, Miller said the chain, anecdotally, is starting to see more interest from teenagers in applying for jobs.
“There’s the sort of cool factor that we have again,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to engage that demographic. It was very satisfying to see the representation on the Discord event.”
In fact, a recent survey from Junior Achievement found that teens are returning to pre-pandemic summer employment levels, with the majority looking for work in the restaurant and retail segments.
The survey of just over 1,000 teens found that 68% plan to work this summer and that just over a quarter of them intend to work in restaurants, according to Youth Caravan survey data.
Miller said he expects to see Chipotle host more virtual job fairs this year, either on Discord or other platforms.
“It’s extremely cost effective,” he said. “What we need to do is align our outreach and how we engage prospective candidates with how they’re actually interacting. I’m looking at every avenue possible …”