Springtime is always a busy season for home improvement and gardening businesses, so the largest of these businesses in the US are embarking on massive hiring sprees to fill tens of thousands of seasonal positions, some of which will turn into permanent roles. The Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer in the US, plans to hire 80,000 employees for the coming season, while its main competitor Lowe’s is looking for 53,000 workers.
To assist in this massive recruiting drive in the context of a historically tight labor market, Home Depot is launching a series of new technological tools to help it recruit and onboard tens of thousands of new employees as efficiently as possible. In a press release last week, the company described an app that allows candidates who have submitted applications to self-schedule their in-person interviews at their convenience. The press release adds that 80 percent of candidates have used Candidate Self-Service since Home Depot began piloting the app in November:
Candidate Self-Service is the latest in a series of enhancements The Home Depot has made to its application process. Last spring, the company saw a 50 percent increase in candidates after rolling out its 15-minute application, Mobile Apply and Text-to-Apply capabilities.
The Home Depot is also enhancing its onboarding experience this spring with the introduction of PocketGuide for associate training, a mobile application that leverages gamification to help associates learn while they’re in the aisles. PocketGuide delivers product knowledge and learning activities to the palm of an associate’s hand, significantly reducing backroom training. The application is rolling out to all garden associates for this spring season and will expand to more store departments throughout 2018.
Home Depot is the fifth-largest private employer in the US, so its adoption of these technological innovations is a significant development in the American labor market and will put pressure on other retailers to step up their own recruiting initiatives.
Of course, many companies, especially large employers with lots of positions to fill, have already begun using technology to speed up and streamline the recruiting process in recent years, as well as to attract younger candidates who might fall through the cracks of traditional sourcing methods. Last summer, for example, McDonald’s rolled out a feature enabling candidates to submit short video applications through Snapchat in an effort to appeal to its key demographic of applicants between the ages of 16 and 24, as it sought to hire around 250,000 employees. This isn’t just about retail and food service either: Morgan Stanley has also been using Snapchat to recruit on college campuses.
At the same time, employers should be wary of leaning too heavily on new digital platforms as a means of improving their recruiting processes. In making the process faster and easier, these technological innovations may certainly increase the volume of applications companies receive, but don’t necessarily improve candidate engagement or candidate quality. Our recruiting research at CEB (now Gartner) has found that meaningful messages and effective messengers are much more important than channels when it comes to building an employer brand. (CEB Recruiting Leadership Council members can read the full Branding for Influence study here.)
There’s also reason to think twice about relying solely on recruiting and onboarding methods that cater to the behaviors and interests of younger candidates: Plenty of older Americans who don’t spend all day glued to their smartphones are also out there looking for jobs and these methods might leave them out.