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Chipotle application goes mobile to attract job seekers

Chipotle implemented Jibe for job applicants after seeing an increasing number of candidates who expect to file with phones or tablets.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is making it easy for people to apply for a job with a mobile device.

The fast-casual dining chain in early October launched a cloud platform from Jibe Inc. that lets job hopefuls file a Chipotle application with a smartphone or tablet. So far, the company has received 60,000 applications through the mobile process, or roughly 20% of all applications.

"If a candidate walks in during the middle of a lunch rush, a manager might not have time to sit down with a candidate right away," said JD Cummings, recruitment strategy manager at Denver-based Chipotle. "Managers can encourage them to maybe complete an application on a mobile device."

"People typically don't want to sit down in a restaurant and fill out a paper application. It is just not cool. But nobody minds being on their phone in a restaurant."

The company began vetting mobile job applications via software as a service in 2013, after finding a growing number of candidates expected to apply for jobs with a mobile device. It considered bids and demonstrations from New York-based Jibe and MoBolt Technology, which since has been acquired by Indeed of Austin, Texas, and CareerBuilder of Chicago. All three bids were fairly evenly priced, Cummings said. To compare the products, he put himself in the candidate's shoes and used his smartphone to apply for jobs with software from each bidder.

Cummings said Jibe is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, clear and direct for users. It can be customized to match Chipotle's font type, colors and navigation.

Jibe handled the entire implementation, starting at the end of 2013. Chipotle went live with the mobile system on Oct. 3.

Jibe grilled about creative aspects of Chipotle application

A couple of items slowed the implementation process, Cummings said.

The Jibe system took longer to develop partly because Chipotle was choosy about creative issues, including imagery and appearance, and there was a lot of "back and forth" about the creative aspects, he said. "We did not want to simply launch their out-of-the-box solution. We wanted to customize it."

It also took several months to integrate Jibe with the system used by a vendor that screens job applicants for the federal work opportunity tax credit, he said. The credit is aimed at encouraging companies to hire people from certain groups, including unemployed or disabled military veterans or low-income people. By law, companies aren't allowed to see information sent to the vendor that screens for the tax credit, he said.

At the time, the vendor, Los Angeles-based Tax Credit Co., did not have mobile-optimized software but has since implemented it, he added.

There were also two minor issues when the system launched. In a few sporadic instances, Jibe would incorrectly categorize an applicant's city and state. If an applicant, for example, selected Kansas City as a home community, it would sometimes list Missouri as the state when the applicant could be from Kansas, he said.

Other times, the Jibe system was not flagging applicants who had previously worked for Chipotle to allow managers to check if the applicant was eligible to be rehired, he said. The problem involved Jibe's integration with software from Taleo Corp., which handles Chipotle application tracking, he said. Oracle bought Taleo in 2012.

Both issues were discovered right away and quickly resolved, and everything seems to be working perfectly today, he said.

Before going live, Chipotle also was aggressive about testing Jibe, taking 30-45 days to make sure it worked properly. The testing included 18 users and a variety of devices, operating systems and browsers to make sure the company covered almost any possibility. Click on Chipotle's careers page and a browser sniffer identifies the type of device and serves up the correct experience.

Chipotle, which is opening a new restaurant every two days, also began using Jibe for distributing job postings on Craiglist.

The majority of positions filled each year are entry-level crew jobs. The company, which had about 50,000 employees and 1,724 restaurants at the end of the third quarter, promotes 95% of managers from the crew, so it hires entry-level people partly to backfill for those thousands of promotions, Cummings said.

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This sounds like an interesting development, but more than just gathering data, it would be much more interesting to see how people could get some insights as to their prospects and chances of getting their applications actually seen. So much of our efforts feel like they just go into a black hole. Making it more transparent to at least see if we are being seen... yeah, that would be nice :).
Thanks, Michael. That is an interesting comment. I will forward your comment to Chipotle's JD Cummings and if he provides a response, I will post it in this comment section. Your comment is pertinent to maybe any company's job application process. It is a longstanding concern of practically anyone who files an application.
Michael -- On Monday, Jan. 5, I received this e-mail, or response, from JD Cummings, recruitment strategy manager at Chipotle:

"Our hiring managers and recruiters review each application individually and we do not use an automated system to decline candidates. For all of our positions, it is our goal to communicate with candidates as quickly as possible once we have had a chance to review their application. For entry level positions in the restaurant, it is usually to invite them in for an initial interview to meet our team. For some of our management and corporate positions there are different candidate workflows depending on the role and hiring manager/recruiter preferences. Our application tracking system (Taleo) also allows candidates to log in to see their application status if they have not heard back."