Big Mac, fries, soda and a job application, please.

Communities hungry for work turn out at McDonald’s in force for its National Hiring Day. The chain is looking to hire 50, 000 across the U.S. At this uniquely American institution, they came hoping to claim or reclaim the American dream.A first job. A new job. A second chance.Across the midstate Tuesday, hundreds of people poured into their local McDonald’s restaurants to fill out applications as part of the chain’s National Hiring Day event.Kamika Banks, 38, and her fiance, Christopher Williams, 32, have been out of work for more than a year.They heard about the hiring day on the news and spent the day driving to different locations, filling out applications.”It’s been hard for us to get jobs,” Banks said. “There’s a lot of us out here that need jobs, and that’s why I’m here.” The hiring blitz comes on the back of a banner year for the Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain.It’s reach again grew, marking eight straight years of growth, according to the company’s 2010 annual report. In the U.S. alone, sales increased 38 percent and customer visits were at an all-time high.The salaries for the positions vary, from at or just above the $7.25 an hour minimum wage for teens seeking their first jobs, to managerial jobs with higher salaries and benefits.Ira Wolfe, owner of Success Performance Solutions, a pre-employment testing firm with offices in Lancaster and Maryland, said there is a disconnect between jobs being offered and skills proffered by the jobless.While it might seem odd that a nation of 15 million unemployed or underemployed people needs a nudge to fill any position, it’s not that simple, Wolfe said.”I saw one survey that said it takes 826 candidates to find one good employee,” Wolfe said. “There are people who apply who have bad attitudes, people who are not cut out for customer service.There are a lot of jobs available, but the job market we had going into the recession is not the same as it is going out of it. A lot of people who are unemployed don’t have skills to work in the service industry.” A company like McDonald’s, which has a good reputation for employee development and talent retention, is likely not only on the lookout for the fry cooks and counter help of today with this hiring push, Wolfe said. It’s also sizing up the next generations of store and even corporate leaders.At the Kline Village location across from Harrisburg High School, more than 100 people applied in four hours, said Peter Ballantine, owner/operator of Ballantine Restaurants.The company, which owns stores in Harrisburg, Hershey and Lebanon – including the Kline Village location – was also taking applications online, he said. In all, Ballantine said he needs 50 people. McDonald’s is looking to hire a thousand times that many nationwide.Sisters Mariam and Ifrah Mohamud, ages 17 and 15, and their cousin, 17-year-old Hamdi Farah, all of Harrisburg, are hoping they are among those chosen.Their families came as refugees from Somalia about five years ago. The restaurant is steps from their school, and with one car to share, they’re hoping to get the same shifts, too.”We want to help our families and get experience for life,” Ifrah said.Kim Feehrer of South Hanover Twp. started as a clerk behind the counter at the Hershey McDonald’s when she was 15.Now 38, she runs that restaurant and supervises another. She spent the better part of Tuesday standing near the soda machine, interviewing candidates and taking notes.Feehrer said she came to the restaurant because it seemed a better alternative than sweeping up at Hersheypark that long-ago summer.She stayed because not only did she discover her talent for talking to people and working as a team, she found an employer willing to invest in her success, she said.”They flew me to Chicago to attend Hamburger U – all expenses paid. To Las Vegas; I’m going to Florida,” Feehrer said. “It’s more than just burgers and fries. I get to direct input into a multibilliondollar company.”Source: Patriot-News, April 20, 2011 
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