Chipotle Plans a Hiring Spree

By Markets Fool.com

Chipotle plans to add 5,000 new employees. Image source: Chipotle.

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Every time it seems like Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) might turn its business around, it takes another blow that knocks it back down.

The company has settled the various lawsuits related to its E. coli issues and it even managed a return to profitability in Q2. Despite that, the Mexican eatery still faces issues, including a shocking number of lawsuits filed by employees.

Over the past five years, the chain has been hit with 115 federal employee lawsuits -- about 4.85 legal actions per 100 stores, or more than three times the rate of Panera Bread and Starbucks, according to an analysis of lawsuit data by the New York Post. The March 2016 article said most of the lawsuits alleged discrimination and 35 were still active.

But in spite of all of these woes and the fact that revenue for the first six months of the year dropped by 19.9% while comparable-restaurant sales have fallen 26.5%, Chipotle plans to go on a hiring spree.

What is Chipotle doing?

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As bad as the numbers have been for Chipotle, the company has plans to add 5,000 workers, which would increase its employee count by roughly 8%. To do that, it will hold its second-annual National Career Day on Sept. 28. During the event, managers from each United States restaurant location will hold open interviews for up to 100 applicants from 8-11 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. Anyone interested in working for the company can sign up in advance for an interview at nationalcareerday.com.

"We are constantly looking for great people to join our team. Regardless of your background or experience, you can succeed at Chipotle if you are willing to work hard to create an excellent guest experience, and have a passion for making the people around you better," said co-CEO Monty Moran in the company press release.

Chipotle does not require any specific experience as part of its hiring criteria. Instead, the company said that it "values character over experience," basing its hiring decision on a set of "13 characteristics that indicate an applicant's potential for success within the company." Those traits sound a bit like the Boy Scout oath. The traits are "being conscientious, respectful, hospitable, high energy, infectiously enthusiastic, happy, presentable, smart, polite, motivated, ambitious, curious, and honest."

Why is Chipotle doing this?

Aside from the fact that the company needs employees, holding a career day event gives the company a chance to change the narrative. By adding jobs in such a public way, the chain may be able to direct attention away from its food safety issues and employee lawsuits and onto its hokey criteria for hiring new workers. Last year, 65,000 people registered for interviews with Chipotle and the company offered jobs to more than 4,000.

On its own, a hiring spree won't send customers flocking back to Chipotle, but some positive press may help the company start to move forward. Consumers need time to forget the chain's problems and remember that they like its food. That won't happen overnight -- and it's taking longer for Chipotle to bounce back than it has for other chains hit by food safety issues -- but it will happen, albeit slowly.

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Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He has never stopped eating at Chipotle. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends CMG, PNRA, and SBUX. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.