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It’s Time for an Hourly Hiring Upgrade

The past few years have shown us the value of hourly hiring for driving company successes and growth. But finding that talent isn’t easy in a tight market, especially for companies with high-volume hiring of hourly workers. Along with demographic changes — welcome to the workforce, Gen Z — many companies keep playing catch-up to meet the challenge of hiring.

That challenge is here to stay for a while: In ManpowerGroup’s most recent employer outlook survey, 75% of employers reported they expect difficulties in hiring talent — a 6% jump from last year. Retailers are facing especially stiff competition for workers. The pressure to hire means retailers must get candidates for hourly jobs through the hiring process faster or risk falling behind the competition.

Prioritizing hourly hiring has not been the typical case: 10 years ago, hourly hiring involved posting a job via a “help wanted” sign — or maybe on social media — and waiting for candidates to come to you. But the recruitment strategy of “build it and they will come” won’t fill hourly roles today. Companies wanting to scale have better options than the lowly help wanted sign.

Enter a newer segment of hiring technology: conversational AI. This technology empowers companies to prioritize hourly hiring and stay ahead of the talent crunch.

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Simplify Your Hiring Process With Conversational AI

For years, companies have relied on traditional Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to facilitate their hiring processes. The ATS has been useful for identifying and vetting salaried hires (its original purpose). But today’s talent crunch shows us the process’ roadblocks and speed bumps — especially for businesses looking for hourly hires. Most systems require candidates to fill in blank after blank and jump through multiple hoops. It’s a tedious and confusing process never meant to handle high-volume hourly hiring. And if your application is too long or confusing, candidates abandon it.

The solution? Simplify. Inspect each step in your hiring process, pare it down and reassemble it into one streamlined experience. It might sound like a lot of work, but the technology exists to create a consumerized, painless and frictionless hiring experience. That’s the promise of conversational AI.

Conversational AI automates the manual administrative tasks that lead to complex job applications. Want to be the first to reach candidates and the fastest to make them an offer? Use AI to remove every click, form, tab or text box a candidate used to navigate. When you make the application process convenient and straightforward, you’ll have more success finding the hourly talent you need.

Make Hiring a Conversation With Your Company

Say a candidate wants to apply for your job. You could have them follow a link to a form and ask them to fill in a bunch of boxes after requiring them to create an account, too. Doesn’t sound very appealing or user-friendly, does it?

What if they could complete the entire application over text? They could chat with an AI assistant tasked with gathering information it could use to screen candidates, set up interviews, and run 95% of the hiring process automatically — almost like magic. All candidates need is a phone and a few minutes to immediately feel engaged with your company.

The real power of conversational AI is its invisible operation. Candidates feel they’re getting immediate interaction with your company. They participate in a true conversation — it doesn’t feel like a conversation; it is one. And they stay engaged throughout the whole process.

This scenario highlights AI as an assistant — not a chatbot delivering canned responses. And it works because we have the technology capable of providing an interactive, human-like experience. Best of all, this approach makes it easier for candidates to job hunt wherever — and whenever — it’s convenient for them. Candidates can talk with the AI to find jobs, pass screenings, answer questions, set up interviews and more.

Conversational AI pairs well with smartphones, too — something 98% of your target demographic owns. A simple hiring experience needs simple communication. Potential employees want conversations, so meet your candidates via their most comfortable method of communication: texting. Then pave a clear path and hand the reins to AI from the first query to the offer letter.

AI’s value doesn’t stop after the offer, either. Let’s not forget about the onboarding process — another tricky roadblock to navigate, since one in five candidates will say yes to the job but then ghost you. While sometimes a better offer than yours comes along, it’s not the only reason “yes’s” become “no-shows.”

You can’t necessarily predict when that will happen, but you can use technology to streamline the onboarding process. If your new employees experienced a smooth hiring process, they’ll expect similar smooth sailing on their first day and onward, too. Paperwork slows everything down. Time to put texting to use again. With a few clicks to answer questions and upload documents, your new hires are onboarded and ready to help your company grow.

Go Beyond “Help Wanted” for High-Volume Hiring

Turn hourly recruiting into a simple, engaging experience by:

  • Examining your entire recruiting process from start to finish to identify any roadblocks.
  • Using conversational AI to create real conversations with candidates.
  • Meeting candidates where they are using smartphones and text messaging.
  • Extending AI through the entire hiring process, including onboarding.

The days of “help wanted” have faded into the past, and the often-neglected hourly hiring has become as important a process as salaried hiring. To keep pace with fast, high-volume hourly hiring, companies must look beyond the traditional ATS. Conversational AI offers the automation and invisible experience to build the best hourly hiring machine. And those with the best machines win.


Josh Secrest is the VP of Marketing and Client Advisory for Paradox. He has led talent and talent acquisition teams for some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands. In his most recent role as Head of Global Talent Strategy at McDonald’s Corporation, Secrest helped design people programs and experiences to support internal and external talent for McDonald’s corporate offices and restaurants around the world. Previously, as Head of Global Talent Attraction at McDonald’s, he collaborated with Paradox to bring the world’s first voice application to life in partnership with Google and Amazon’s Alexa. Prior to joining McDonald’s, Secrest spent over 13 years at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. where he was as an HR business partner and led various HR functions including global talent acquisition, philanthropy and home office development.

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