Tech Insights: Simplifying the Recruiting of Hourly Workers

Oct 14, 2014

Most of the innovation we have seen in HR technology has been aimed at professional and managerial employees.

Take recruitment: the typical recruitment application asks a candidate to sit down at a PC and submit a resume. For someone looking for a job as a short-order cook, janitor or cashier, submitting a resume is overkill and presents a barrier to quickly filling the job.

Furthermore, many hourly workers do not have ready access to a PC. That’s another barrier to what should be a simple recruitment task. The recruitment tools that seem perfect for hiring professionals are awkward and ineffective for hiring hourly workers.

Simplifying recruiting to a text message

It is natural to ask how we can adapt our existing recruitment software for hourly workers; however it is more interesting to see what people come up with when they start with a blank page.

Jobaline started with a blank page. Their recruiting system can work for candidates who have nothing more sophisticated than text messaging. It is also a bilingual service, which would be a frill for recruiting professionals in the U.S., but is essential for hourly workers given how much of that workforce is Hispanic.

It feels obvious to design a platform for hiring hourly workers this way; but you wouldn’t get there starting from a platform designed for salaried employees. When we start paying attention to the hourly workforce, it is clear that many of our talent management systems and processes are not as effective as they could be.

What is interesting?

  • An HR application aimed at hourly workers can be dramatically different from one aimed at salaried employees. This principle, that there can be quite significant differences between segments of the workforce, may well apply elsewhere. Would a recruiting platform aimed only at scientists end up looking very different from our standard one? It is possible that niche products will dramatically outperform plain vanilla ones.

What is really important?

  • Most writing about HR has an implicit assumption: that the world they are discussing is something like the corporate office of General Electric. When you become more specific and say we are not talking about hiring for some generic corporate office, but about hiring short-order cooks for a small, regional chain of diners, then everything feels different.

An HR leader once told me that where the HR profession has gone wrong is that we see ourselves as being independent of any particular industry; e.g. by thinking that HR in manufacturing is the same as HR in financial services.

Maybe the lesson from Jobaline and hiring hourly worker via text messages is really part of a bigger message that HR needs to be more context specific and customize approaches to very particular situations.