They're out there, 300,000 of them, in bright orange aprons, smelling faintly of fertilizer and turpentine. They're employees at America's largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot. And you could be one of them.
Home Depot typically hires 70,000 people annually, according to spokesman Stephen Holmes, although usually at the beginning of the year. Macy's and Target may swell up their ranks for the holidays, but in the world of home improvement, springtime is Christmas.
It doesn't have to be just a seasonal job though; Holmes says half of their springtime associates transition into full-time positions. Home Depot also looks for good cashiers year-round, and there are occasional openings at the management level.
There's a clear hierarchy at Home Depot, claims former employee Katie Kirsch. Cashiers are on the bottom rung, with an average hourly wage of $9.31, according to Glassdoor.com. The associates wandering the floors, advising customers on paint colors and bamboo flooring, are a loftier bunch, taking home an average hourly wage of $11.63.
And then there's the ruling class: assistant store managers, store managers, department supervisors, district managers, and division presidents, many of whom, Holmes says, started out as hourly associates knee-deep in miracle sealant. Assistant store manager at Home Depot is "a great job," says Holmes, with an average annual salary of $55,128.
"One thing to always keep in mind about Home Depot," Holmes says, "is that while you may start out as a part-time associate in a store, you really don't know where that will lead."
But the best thing about working at Home Depot, employees agree, are the benefits. Even part-time employees have an array of benefit packages to pick from, which include medical, dental, stock options, and a 4019(k), as well as vacation and sick days. "As far as retail is concerned, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better company," one department supervisor in San Rafael, Calif., wrote on Glassdoor.com.
If you're an expert in moulding and millwork, you're more likely to score a Home Depot gig. "But individuals shouldn't be discouraged if they don't have the background," Holmes claims, "because we have a fantastic training program across the company."
He says they conduct hands-on home improvement projects with employees, where they learn how to tile a floor themselves. "We're not aware of anyone else who does this," he says. Although Kirsch, who worked at Home Depot for 3½ years, claims that as a teenager in the floor and wall department, her training was all "learn as you go."
There aren't many retail outlets like Home Depot, where customers usually come in with a particular task they need help with: a crack they need to seal, or a skylight they need to install. So hiring managers are really looking for applicants with "a strong knack for problem-solving."
Individuals apply online, or if they don't have internet access, they can come into a store where someone will help them. If the application hits the right keywords, a staffing manager will review it personally and, if impressed, will give the applicant a call. The final stage is a face-to-face interview, where you should show off your "passion," says Holmes.
"The other people you're working with are very passionate about the company, passionate about customers and helping them," he claims. "And if you have that passion, you can do well here."
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