'Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s...'

McDonald's has launched the world's first voice application process, to help attract curious but time-poor candidates from all walks of life

We are a restaurant business, but we are also a people business. We have more than 120,000 employees, and every day they welcome almost four million people into our branches up and down the country. Over the past few years roles in our restaurants have changed – our self-order screens have freed up our people from behind the counter to focus on hospitality. We’re employing more people, from all backgrounds and all life stages, but in slightly different roles.

Used in the right way, we’ve found that technology can be both an enabler for current employees and a way to attract and recruit new staff. It can also help simplify the job application process.

Research from CareerBuilder found that 60% of jobseekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. Jobsite Indeed also found that the average application form can include a vast 63 screening questions. As employers we should not be creating barriers for prospective employees and the application process should reflect the brand or business they are applying to. For us that means the process should be quick, convenient and fun.

So we are launching the world’s first voice-initiated job application process, giving candidates the ability to start their application simply by saying 'Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s.' Users will jump-start their application by answering a few basic questions including their name, job area of interest and location. Potential applicants will then receive a short text message with a link to continue their application process.

This isn’t about simplicity for the sake of it. There is a business imperative behind making it easier to attract younger time-poor recruits; they help to foster diversity in the workplace and have the potential to refresh old ways of working. We must be ready for Generation Z – those aged 16 to 24 and the first fully-digital generation – who are finishing their education and joining the workforce.

Voice assistants have more than seven million daily users in the UK, according to Deloitte. So we think they're a fun and powerful way to reach candidates from all walks of life – whether they’re looking for their first job or to return to the workplace after a career break. The fastest growth in users is actually among 55- to 75-year-olds, who are using voice assistants on a daily basis to do things like getting weather updates or playing music. By utilising Alexa and Google Assistant we will be reaching an audience who might not have previously thought about a job at McDonald’s.

Regardless of background, we hope this initiative encourages people to get in touch about a wide variety of roles in our 1,270 restaurants across the UK and Ireland. We believe it’s important to look at new ways to recruit and understand if that’s what people want from us.

There’s never been a better time for businesses to embrace how we use technology in our daily lives. This marks the next step in how we are redefining the application process, casting our recruitment net wider as a result.

Harriet Hounsell is chief people officer at McDonald’s UK

Further reading

What HR can learn from customer experience

The role of technology in talent acquisition

Matthew Taylor in conversation with Paul Pomroy (McDonald's CEO)

Mixed age groups make for happier employees