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When I’m old enough – How will I apply?

By Elaine Orler |

I was running a few errands with my 15 yr old son this week, and while in the middle of a retail store, debating over purple or green post it notes, my son asks me. “Mom – when I’m old enough to work – how will I apply for a job? Will I walk in and ask for some kind of form? “

With 16 years in the industry either as a practitioner or consultant focused on this very challenge from a business perspective, I had no short answer to his simple question. My only answer was; “in 6 months we’ll have to see”. After I balanced the emotional realization that I will have a working teenager (not to mention driving) in 2010, I shifted my thinking back to how to answer his question.

tfpost_12-2What will the applicant experience be in 2010?
My vision for how he will find his first job is this:
We will be shopping in any one of the 20+ retail organizations within a 5 mile radius of our house, and he will stumble upon the employment center – it will have posters that say – text us at ##### and we’ll send you the details on how to apply. We won’t lose any shopping time and will likely spend more because of the time spent in the store. He sends the text and gets an immediate text response with a short link to fill in his name and email address. He will do this while talking to me about which jeans he wants, and practicing his negotiation skills on why I need to buy them for him.

He will get another text response to submission and as a thank you he gets a secret customer code for 10% off of one regular priced item – with instructions to tell the cashier at check out. (That seals the deal and he gets the jeans he wants.) When we pay for the merchandise he tells the cashier he has a secret code, and shows her on his phone. She congratulates him, and then tells him how fun it is to work at that store, how great the company is and how much he will like it if he is hired. The cashier enters the code and I get the 10% off. (behind the scenes the company tracks the codes and the cashier is given a referral bonus when they are referenced in the on-boarding survey for promoting the company when my son is hired).

My son is so excited that he got the jeans he wanted, that he expressed interest in working for the retail organization, and he got validation from the person that worked there that it is great. He can’t wait to start. He opens his email and has a link to complete the rest of the application process, which he does from his LG – smart phone, in the car on the way home. He gets another email and text to pick the times he wants to be called for an interview, he picks a time when he is not in school and he gets a confirmation and meeting invite to his phone with the reminder turned on.

If you asked someone 5 years ago if this vision was possible they would say highly unlikely. Based on the technology I’ve seen in the last few months, the momentum in the recovery…. I think there is a very strong chance that he will be able to live this out before the end of 2010.

Any retail organization that wants a test applicant let me know – my son has volunteered.