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UPS introduces an expedited hiring process. Get a job offer in 30 minutes


Some employers are desperate to find workers for the holiday season, so they're trying all sorts of things to fill positions, including hiring new workers in 30 minutes or less. NPR's Andrea Hsu has the story.

ANDREA HSU, BYLINE: At 6 p.m., the UPS hub in Westchester, Pa., is a bustling scene. There's a line of brown delivery trucks zooming in and out. Thousands of packages travel along conveyor belts and slide down chutes.

CHRIS BOOTS: We're sorting them, we're separating them by zip codes and where they need to go and reloading the trucks.

HSU: Chris Boots started at UPS three months ago as a package handler after losing his job as an event planner at the start of the pandemic. His timing was good; in late August, UPS introduced an expedited hiring process.

BOOTS: Yeah, it was actually very convenient.

HSU: You go to the website, choose a location and a shift, watch a short video about the job, answer some questions and...

BOOTS: Within 30 minutes, they send you an email saying if you're hired or not - which they said that I was hired.

HSU: That was followed up by a phone call the next day from an HR rep.

BOOTS: She told me what to wear to work. She told me about the boots, the water bottle.

HSU: Essentials for a job that has you on your feet all day or all night, lifting packages as heavy as 70 pounds. It's hard physical labor. But landing the job? Not so hard.

BOOTS: I even looked at my sister. I said, this was a little too easy.

HSU: The combination of the pandemic and the holiday season has meant workers like Chris Boots are in high demand. Consider that Amazon has been offering new warehouse workers in some locations a $3,000 sign-on bonus. Macy's gave existing employees up to $500 for every friend or family member they could recruit. UPS is doing tuition reimbursement for even seasonal workers. Matt Lavery, who oversees online recruiting at UPS, says the idea for a slimmed-down application was born of necessity.

MATT LAVERY: We had fallout and large fallout. It just became a situation where if we weren't making a job offer and keeping someone's attention from the minute they hit the apply button, we had a chance to lose them.

HSU: So Lavery says they took a hard look at their application. Most of the seasonal openings are for package handlers, like Boots, and driver assistants who ride in some of the trucks and bring packages to your door. To hire for those, UPS decided they don't need all that much information. Drug testing was already out of the process, but they found they could cut even more.

LAVERY: We didn't necessarily care if you went to a high school or not or graduated from the high school.

HSU: So they got rid of that question. Another change? They only want to know about your most recent employer.

LAVERY: So we stopped collecting other employers that we weren't going to check as part of the background check process.

HSU: Also unnecessary? The in-person interview. Lavery says they'll collect more information for jobs where it's relevant - drivers, for example. But for entry-level package handlers, the old process just took too long. People would have to wait a couple of weeks to get an offer.

LAVERY: If we kept more of a traditional process, I'm not sure where we would be.

HSU: Meanwhile, so far, so good with the new application. Lavery says there haven't been any notable problems with the process or the new hires. In Pennsylvania, Chris Boots even got a promotion to part-time supervisor after just two months on the job.

BOOTS: I knew it was going to be hard work. I knew it was going to be tough. And you really have to prove yourself here, you know?

HSU: Now with just days to go before Christmas, UPS has nearly met its goal of hiring 100,000 seasonal workers, most of them in 30 minutes or less.

Andrea Hsu, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF KUPLA'S "ROOTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrea Hsu is NPR's labor and workplace correspondent.

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