There’s no denying that the post-college job hunt has gotten increasingly competitive. The current economy, coupled with the increasing number of college graduates, means that many millennials are applying to jobs for which they may be overqualified. But a recent job listing for an independent Massachusetts McDonald’s seeking a cashier seems to bring it to a whole other level; it requires that applicants not only have one to two years of experience under their belts, but a bachelor’s degree as well.
If this isn’t a sign of the times, it’s unclear what is. Or instead, it may just be another example of McDonald’s exploitation of workers, served up with a side of fries. McDonald’s, or at least this particular Massachusetts franchise, is attempting to capitalize on today’s high rate of unemployment. This capitalization, however, will eventually not only hurt potential and current McDonald’s employees, but the establishment itself.
McDonald’s has been under fire the past couple of months. In March, a franchise in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was accused of paying student guests workers less than minimum wage and housing them in poor conditions. On Thursday in New York City, McDonald's employees of multiple locations went on strike in response to low wages and shortened hours. Now, this job posting stunt can be added to the list of the company's abuse of power.
Today, youth unemployment has reached a shocking high of 11.5%. Young people with and without college degrees are struggling to find jobs that aren't available, and McDonald's is clearly capitalizing on this, especially this franchise in Massachusetts, the state with the highest percentage of college-educated residents. While, in today's economy, it is very possible that a person with a college degree would apply for a cashier's position, requiring a B.A. for applicants is ludicrous.
It seems to be merely a publicity stunt that has surely worked. And even if it is not a publicity stunt, this job listing poses an extremely harmful threat to current and potential McDonald's employees. High school students and those who did not attend college (i.e. the people who historically apply for these positions) may feel intimidated by the listing and thus not apply to a job for which they are clearly qualified. If, and when, college students do apply for this position and take on the role, it is possible that managers will find them better qualified, simply due to their degree and not necessarily performance, and thus will shorten the hours of other current employees (most likely those without a degree) or, worse, fire them.
Though the Massachusetts McDonald's franchise may realize this but feel no obligation towards its employees, it may not realize that this new policy for the hiring of cashiers will ultimately be costly to itself as well. Yes, there is the bad press (although all press is good press, right?), but there is such a thing as an overqualified worker. If a college-educated person applies for this position, it is likely that it is not his or her ideal job. Instead, the new employee will see the job as temporary and, throughout his or her time at McDonald's, will continue to search for other jobs. This not only means a less-committed staff, but also more training time (which eventually means more money) for the McDonald's, as it will eventually have to replace the employee and train another.
Of course, the actions of one independent McDonald's franchise cannot speak for all others, and this requirement of a bachelor's degree for a cashier's positions seems to be the first of its kind. But when the company as a whole is under as much scrutiny as McDonald's is, a stunt such as this seems to only hurt the company, but more importantly, its current and potential employees. Rather than seeking overqualified workers, this Massachusetts McDonald's should advertise to whomever would be qualified for the position in order to avoid discriminating against those who do not have a higher education. Of course, college-educated people may apply, but it should not be exclusively open to them. Anything less is discriminative and exploitative.