CHICAGO — In today's tough employment market, one company has become the go-to option for the frustrated job seeker: Starbucks. That's a problem for McDonald's as it seeks to beef up its work force for what's expected to be another year of sales growth.
To nab the attention of top-flight candidates, the Oak Brook, Ill., burger giant is tackling the image of a "McJob." That means a weekslong advertising and public relations campaign leading up to April 19, when McDonald's Corp. plans to hire 50,000 store-level employees.
McDonald's hopes to get across the message, much as Starbucks Corp. has successfully done, that a job with it is not a dead end and can offer solid benefits and long-term career opportunities, which the company says already are available to its 600,000 restaurant employees in the United States.
Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a Chicago-based restaurant industry consultancy, described the redefining of a McJob as a tall order.
While Paul said the chain "has a great story to tell" of the benefits it offers that many competitors don't, and the opportunities to move into management, "they still don't have the image of a Starbucks."
Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA, believes her story and those of other senior managers will help recast the image of the company's entry-level jobs. Senior managers will appear at McDonald's restaurants to talk about their careers, and the company will promote the hiring event in a newspaper and radio advertising campaign that's launching this week.
"I have a McJob," said Fields, who started her career behind the counter in 1977 as a young mother working her way through school. "And I'm darned proud of it."
Half of the owner-operators of the chain's franchises started as restaurant employees, according to McDonald's, as did 40 percent of McDonald's corporate staff and 30 percent of its senior management, including CEO Jim Skinner.
"McJob" was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2003 and has remained there despite the company's protests.
Every year, McDonald's aims for 3 to 5 percent same-store sales growth globally. The company is riding eight consecutive years of overall same-store sales gains. McDonald's usually also sees an increase in business during the summer and typically staffs up in advance.