McDonald’s adds a novel staff recruitment draw: Career advice

Photograph: Shutterstock

McDonald’s is trying a new recruitment draw for young people just entering the job market: career guidance.

Under a program announced earlier this week, the quick-service giant is using prominent authorities and its own franchisees to counsel youngsters who view a crew position at McDonald’s as a way to earn money en route to a better job. The Where You Want to Be program aims to convince job seekers they’ll come away with skills that give them a better shot at succeeding in their dream careers. Instead of preaching about the benefits of staying with McDonald’s, the program positions the Golden Arches as a better stepping stone than other places to work might be. 

McDonald’s said it learned through research that its employees tend to envision careers in five fields: arts and entertainment, technology, healthcare, entrepreneurship and the restaurant business. The company said it has enlisted “influencers” in each field to share their real-world experiences in those industries with “select employees.” It did not reveal how those staff members would be chosen.

The influencers include the chain’s own owner-operators, who’ll address the realities of a career in the restaurant business. 

The others are rapper Bryshere Gray (arts and entertainment); digital content creator and former McDonald’s crewmember Tyler Oakley (technology); author and business authority James Altucher (entrepreneurship); and dermatologist and surgeon Meena Singh (healthcare). 

The authorities will also speak about the “soft skills” needed to succeed in their fields and how those capabilities are fostered by working at a McDonald’s.

The program also aims to familiarize employees with the tuition assistance, education and other career-building benefits available to McDonald’s franchisees. It dovetails with another program that aims to help employees pursue higher ambitions, Archways to Opportunity, a collaboration with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. The initiative aims to help McDonald’s employees draft a career path, drawing on input from experts participating in the program. It also aims to expose employees to more career options, and to show them how skills honed in a restaurant job could give them an edge in those fields. 

Where You Want to Be is the latest example of restaurant chains trying to sweeten their appeal among job seekers looking for a path to advancement along with a paycheck. Starbucks, Taco Bell and Chili’s all offer different forms of tuition assistance, while Arby’s conducts a program that teaches employees how to set goals and plan for their personal life. 

“This campaign started by listening to employees,” Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s U.S. chief people officer, said in a statement. “By connecting restaurant employees’ aspirations with the necessary education tools and career advising services to achieve them, we continue to reinforce our role as America’s best first Job.”

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Why MOD Pizza is not out of the woods yet

The Bottom Line: The fast-casual pizza chain was sold last week to Elite Restaurant Group. But few who’ve seen the finances believe the company can avoid closing large numbers of stores.


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


More from our partners