Recruiting Gen Z with Chipotle

Posted by Sacha Clarke | 06-May-2022 16:14:57

Hiring new talent is no longer just about what the employees can offer, but what value the organisation can provide in return. As our State of Recovery Report found, “hiring new talent” to be the top initiative for organisational growth. 

Mike Miller, the Director of Talent Acquisition at Chipotle has seen first-hand which strategies work best for onboarding new employees, and he relishes crafting the people experience at the restaurant chain. We spoke with Mike to find out what the modern talent landscape looks like, and what Gen Z employees are looking for when considering a new role at Chipotle. 

To start off, how would you define your strategy to approaching new talent?

 So firstly, our purpose is to cultivate a better world. When it comes to curating world-class talent, we want to make sure people are aligned with that purpose. We’ve all been navigating in this backdrop of a pandemic. One of the outcomes for us has been getting clean and crisp in how we market ourselves as an employer brand. In the US and Europe, a lot of people have lost sight of the value proposition, but it’s an exciting challenge to make sure we have conversations with potential candidates, to show them how they gain value for themselves. 


Delving into the value proposition more, how do you put the candidate experience at the heart of the recruitment process?

More than any organisation I’ve had the pleasure of working for, it struck me one day that there’s no difference between the customer and candidate experience at Chipotle. And so, we have this unique proposition that if they have a positive in-store experience, they’ll have a positive candidate experience. We’re trying to ensure we reach every touchpoint to speak with our guests, and not using too many filters, so we can simply talk to them authentically. 

The key is to use technology to enable genuine conversations, not to put up the proverbial firewall between you and candidates.


If we look at the younger generation, we’re seeing them leave their jobs more often, and this has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. What are the key elements to not only attract but retain young talent?

First and foremost, you have to understand what your values are and stay rooted to them. Make sure you can translate those to something that’s compelling for your candidates. For us, one of our values is: “authenticity lives here.”, so we want people who feel passionate about bringing their full selves to work. We’re trying to carry that narrative in our talent marketing materials that this is really present, we don’t want a cookie-cutter template of people. Having a complementary set of employees will strengthen the team and eventually drive business results.


It’s been said that the pandemic has shifted the job market from being employer-driven to candidate-driven, for the first time in years. From your experience, how should employers navigate this seismic shift?

We had to make adjustments pretty quickly. In 2018, we had new leadership, and our goal was to reinvigorate the brand. As part of doing that, our goal was to build capability in the organisation by growing talent. From an attraction perspective, we had challenges like all businesses, but the return-of-investment had to flip so it resonated with candidates themselves. We had to articulate why there’s value in joining the organisation, and what they get out of it - they want to be part of something that’s meaningful and has purpose. Often I find conversations revolve around making a difference to wider society or how we can make a positive impact on sustainability first, rather than starting rates and wages (not that those things aren’t important).


QSR Magazine talks about how Chipotle went viral on TikTok, resulting in over 250,000 video submissions from a dance challenge! How has this popularity on social platforms affected your brand image? 

We love feeding off big energy! There is so much intent and purpose among our younger audience and consumers, so we want to be where they are - it’s about making sure they know we see them and are listening to them. What I love about TikTok and other social media, is the ability to have real-time conversations, and not push them towards an application tracking system, which used to feel very anonymous. So understanding who your customers are is key to knowing where to be present online.


In our State of Recovery Report , “hiring new talent” topped the list when considering which approach will help organisations expand. What would you say to leaders who wish to do this in order to drive business growth?

Forget what got you here! Obviously, it’s important to understand the talents that did get you to where you are now, but we aren’t doing things the same anymore, so it’s about understanding what is necessary today. Being able to understand how you’re experienced from a candidate's perspective is incredibly important because you should be able to recognise what matters to the business you’re in now, and why that’s relevant. So my advice is to focus on that sense of immediacy, don’t hold on to 5 years ago, and keep in mind we all want one thing - and that’s a positive change!

Mike Miller joined us at Chief Disruptor LIVE October 2021 to shed light on how organisations can excel. Hear the latest insights at our next summit, from the powerhouses who are changing the business landscape.


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Topics: Thought Leadership

Written by Sacha Clarke

Sacha is part of the Marketing and Editorial teams at Nimbus Ninety. She explores what the biggest trends are in business and technology, and creates content for our community.

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