You can apply for a job these days by simply pushing a few buttons. On a computer keyboard, that is. Those cumbersome job applications on paper are being replaced at several chain stores in the East Valley, including all 18 Albertsons stores, by an electronic system offered by the Portland, Ore.-based Unicru.
The system, which was offered three years ago as an experiment at 34 Albertsons stores in the Valley, including the store at 1919 E. Main St., Mesa, is now available at all 2,500 Albertsons across he country.
"It’s the best invention since the screen door," said Brian Christopherson, Albertsons director of operations for the Southwest District.
"And it has eliminated all those bulky loads of paperwork."
Other stores in the East Valley that are using the Unicru system include Blockbuster, Target and The Sports Authority, according to the company.
Mo Montez, director of Albertsons at Dobson Road and Main Street in Mesa, said an average of five applicants sit at the computer screen at the front entrance to the store each day.
The job application can also be reached from a home computer or elsewhere at www.albertsons.com.
"It has helped us find some very good employees," said Montez, who regularly reads the applications on his store’s computer system.
"It has also freed our employees from spending a lot of time processing job applications," he said.
The job application screen and comfortable seat greets shoppers at the entrance to the Mesa store.
It is next to rows of peppers and other vegetables and offers job application forms as well as other information about Albertsons in English and Spanish.
It takes about 20 minutes to complete an application, said Mary Pinski, director of Albertsons Human Resources Department.
"The system helps our staff select qualified employees as well as prepares us for interviews," said Pinski, who said the system also protects her company from asking job applicants in person potentially discriminatory questions.
Pinski said the computer job application program eventually will be used for payroll processing, a system that continues to use paper work for all of Albertsons 230,000 employees nationwide.
"The job application program is the first half of what we expect to be a complete computer system for processing payroll information — and its one that eventually will save us a lot of money," Pinski said.
Once completed, the computerized job application is kept in the Albertsons computer system in Mesa for five days, then if no action is taken the application is distributed to other stores within a 15-mile radius.
After the application is reviewed, the applicant may be called in for a face-to-face interview using the computercompiled data as a basis for questions.
The application, which includes a job seekers social security number, home address and other personal information, is kept in the system for 60 days.
Unicru said the applications and other filed information is secure, since the system can only be entered by certified employees who have been cleared for security.
"Our customers see an average of 10 (percent) to 30 percent decreases in employee turnover and more than a 50 percent reduction in hiring time," said a Unicru spokesman, who added that the privately held company that was founded in 1987 and now has 250 employees expects to earn $15 million in revenue in 2005.
Since its start, the company has processed 37 million job applications for its corporate clients and has on-site screens at more than 20,000 locations.
Among some of the other companies using the job application program outside of Arizona include Caribou Coffee, CVS Pharmacy, Hollywood Entertainment, Kroger, Rock Bottom Restaurants and Universal Studios.