In this traditionally quiet “off season” for Apple retail, the company is preparing for 2011 with the renewal of a store management development program and the addition of several positions focused on recruiting and hiring. The personnel actions emphasize the challenges of staffing and managing over 320 stores worldwide while maintaining the original goal of providing a superior customer experience. First, the company has announced its Spring search for recent college graduates to join a two-year Store Leader Program, which rotates candidates through each store job position to gain ground-floor experience. The employee is mentored by a veteran staffer and emerges with “world-class leadership skills and the opportunity to secure a leadership position at one of our stores anywhere in the world.” Second, Apple has added several administrative retail positions that focus on recruiting and hiring, including a Recruiting Leader—Business, HR Project Coordinator, Market Recruiter, and Sr. Retail HR Administrator. And beyond HR, the company has also posted several tech-related administrative positions, and for the first time a Cinematographer/Editor position devoted to the retail operation.
Apple typically opens most of its stores in the period before the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, leaving the post-Christmas and early New Year period for planning and preparation. This year the company has added 15 new job titles to the 297 administrative positions (pdf) collected by IFO over the past four years.
The Apple Store Leader Program (ASLP) was born earlier this year with the debut of several job positions intended to begin the development of new retail managers, both from inside and outside the company. Many Apple store managers have been hired from outside Apple, and typically from beyond the technology field. This pattern of outside hiring has created some criticism among Apple store employees that their management team doesn’t understand tech and how it should be sold. Store managers with previous Gap clothing store experience are specifically mentioned in this criticism, and the ASLP program seems designed to eliminate the complaints.
An ASLP Associate works a 24-month rotation among the store positions, “learning and experiencing how to lead in the unique environment of an Apple Retail Store,” the job description states. After successfully completing the program, “You’ll have the opportunity to secure a leadership position at one of our stores anywhere in the world.”
Apple says a typical candidate for the position must have a 3.0 grade point average or above from a four-year university or college. In addition, “You’re highly motivated, hungry to learn, and excited to tackle any new challenge—wherever it is or whatever it may be.” A candidate must also love technology, and “integrate it into your daily life and can see how it transforms people’s lives.”
Apple is holding interview events at universities and colleges during January and February 2011, including in countries outside the United States (Spain). The application deadline is March 14th, with program candidate selections by April. Those selected will begin work in the fall, Apple says.
Back at headquarters, Apple is looking for several HR/personnel candidates to support the stores.
The Management Research Leader will manage, “the front end research and recruiting to support a region within our field organization.” Research and networking skills using social networks, data mining and cold calling are “vital,” Apple says.
The Market Human Resources Manager is assigned to both New York City and Seattle, and will provide “generalist support through consultative partnership with the market leaders and their leadership teams, ensuring that policies and procedures are understood and applied fairly and consistently, all while serving as a valuable HR partner.” The position will also work to build an internal talent pipeline by “supporting the creation of enriching career experiences, and through the facilitation of leadership development training.”
The new Program Manager, Talent Development position will oversee the planning and execution of HR development programs to increase leadership capabilities and improve overall store performance.
The Recruiting Leader – Business position is posted in Boston and will recruit senior Sales and Sales Engineering talent to support business in the retail stores.
The Sr. Retail HR Administrator will, “provide excellent, comprehensive administrative and operational support to the HR Director Retail US & Canada Stores and Director of Retail Training,” Apple says. A candidate will be responsible for both general executive administrative tasks as well as operational and project management activities.
The Retail HR Project Coordinator position will coordinate communication, project maps and execution of Retail HR Operations projects impacting Global Retail Stores, according to the job description. The position also works with the Sr. Manager to develop a system for accurately tracking Retail Performance Reviews, HR Dashboard, Turnover and other projects.
Lastly, the Market Recruiter position is posted at the Fifth Avenue (NYC) store, and will manage the complete recruiting function, including: research, sourcing, networking, behavior-based interviewing and closing. The person will also assist the HR Manager and hiring managers with high volume interview scheduling (making sure that interview teams and candidates have all information prior to the interview date)
Significantly, Apple is looking to hire an iPhone and iPad Developer, hinting at further development of the existing Retail Store app. The goals of the position are only barely outlined: Design and help implement new systems; create systems and API structure for future web and iPhone projects; offer support for Retail Employees within stores; help present overarching ideas and solutions for Retail. The experience requirements includes knowledge of Objective-C, MySQL and RESTful API design.
The new Retail Network A/V Engineer position will be responsible for the delivery and operations of WAN, LAN and wireless data network services for the stores. The person will “manage existing store networks, tune wireless networks, maintain sustaining operations and become a business partner for Apple Retail.”
The position of Senior Network Engineer has similar responsibilities to the previous position. The person will take a lead role in the development and implementation of standards based systems, architecture and operational processes, and will be part of an on-call rotation with pager duty required, Apple says.
The Technology Manager position “sits at the intersection of technology and liberal arts,” the job description states. The candidate will work with our business to design effective and innovative system solutions, and must have “a strong candidate will have experience managing the progress and performance of multiple projects and their contributing team members.” The ideal candidate should, “specialize in technology, yet demonstrate strong people skills and logic. You need to be able to help creative thinkers move their conceptual ideas to concrete practice.”
Apple is looking for a Real Estate Coordinator for the first time, who will provide tactical assistance to the members of the Asia Pacific Real Estate Team. The company says the position will be responsible for “basic analysis, research activities, administrative support, presentation preparation, and overall Real Estate coordination tasks. You must ensure that customer expectations are met both externally and internally.”
The Senior Real Estate Manager will identify new store locations, close real estate transactions and manage all real estate aspects of the fleet. The person also sets and implements strategy for retail real estate, according to Apple.
Finally, the new Cinematographer/Editor position hints at the increasing need for video materials for internal promotion and training. This position must specialize in cinematography, video post-production, and studio facilities and equipment management, Apple says. “Our ideal candidate is a master of visual storytelling, champion of innovative production technique, and enthusiast for even the tiniest of details. The visual stories we tell have the power to inform, challenge, change, and inspire. We are looking for a Multimedia Producer who has the passion, energy, and dedication to consistently rise to this potential.”