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Understaffed White Castle, Cheesecake Factory trying to hire people who applied years ago

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Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Finding workers who actually want to come back to the service industry is still proving to be extremely difficult for restaurants. Many of these former employees have jumped ship to enter completely different job markets after realizing there are better opportunities for more pay elsewhere. That means some employers have been digging into their old archives—their very old archives—of applicants and are reaching out to prospects multiple years after they first applied, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The WSJ notes that this isn’t even an unusual occurrence right now, and it’s happened at The Cheesecake Factory more than once. Larisa Stepashkin, a 22-year-old college student, told the paper that The Cheesecake Factory contacted her five years after her initial job application.

“I thought it was hilarious,” she said. “I guess it took them awhile to get back to me.”

And Joseph Guerrero, now 23 and employed as a legal case evaluator, told the WSJ that a call from the restaurant chain came seemingly out of nowhere.

“I knew I didn’t leave my wallet behind,” he said, noting that he hadn’t even been to that location in years. “I was like ohhhhh, thank you, but yeah, I found another job.”

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Abigail Ezzell, now a 20-year-old college student, recently heard back from Cracker Barrel three years after her initial application. She explains the call this way: “It was like, hey, Abigail, so glad to see you applied! They gave me a date and time to come in for an interview. I definitely did not email them back.”

However, this hiring strategy is paying off for at least a few companies. White Castle scored some interested people after reaching back out to 550,000 former applicants, some whose applications date back to 2017. As many as 32,000 of them (about 6%) expressed interest in White Castle jobs that were currently open, but 5% asked the restaurant to stop contacting them.

“We want it to be a conversation, not an invasion,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of marketing and PR at White Castle.

Sid Diamond is one of the people recently contacted by White Castle; he’s currently 23 and working as a sound engineer. He said the call reminded him of harder times when he was short on money.

“It brought me back to how I used to walk by every day and smell its greasiness, and I was like, hell no,” Diamond said. “I’m definitely happier and feel like I’ve grown a lot. A lot’s happened in four years.”

If an employer contacted me four years after I applied, I’m not sure how I’d feel. But it does tell me that we’re going to be hearing about the restaurant labor issue for a long time to come. Maybe even four years from now.

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