Two Veteran Job Fairs Yield Seven Military Hires for Cash America
Jennifer Robinson has a unique approach for drawing out candidates at a career fair. “I’ll often start a conversation by asking, ‘How’s life?’ If someone complains, that tells me a lot. I seek an attitude of gratitude. That is the most valuable attribute you can have in my book,” she said. As the Senior Field Recruiter for Cash America, the largest pawn store chain in the United States, she sources talent for the company’s stores in 20 states.
Hiring at military career fairs began as a pilot project at Cash America. Attendance at their first two events yielded seven hires. “It was very efficient for us. We didn’t have to spend hours sourcing candidates. They were right there, and several of them accepted our offer on the spot.”
The company aimed to increase and upgrade its talent pool, and was seeking superior candidates to fill roles as retail sales managers; pawn brokers; shift leads; and assistant managers.
“At a RecruitMiltiary event in Phoenix, two of the candidates who were extended job offers went immediately to one of our stores, as we suggest they do, to get a feel for the space, the employees, and the environment,” she said. “They each went through the screening process the same day as the hiring event, which made them eligible to be hired within 48 hours. They started as store managers within a week after that.”
Robinson added that solid customer service skills are a must in this line of work. “The pawn business is all about people, so we need very customer-centric individuals,” she said. Candidates with experience in hard lines (electronics, guns, appliances, etc.) are also highly desirable, as is P&L and recruiting experience.
“I’m really looking for someone who is articulate and who has managed people,” she said. “Even a veteran ranking from E-3 to E-5 would still have gained small group leadership skills and inventory control experience while they served.”
The Veteran Advantage
“We have lots of former military members on our team,” Robinson said. “They have a great ability to think and color outside the lines. No two days are the same in the pawn business, so it’s impossible to get bored,” she added.
“Leadership, accountability, self-motivation – that’s the military in a nutshell. We find that veterans tend to possess solid intuition, and their culture is grounded in mission accomplishment. They come up with solutions and focus on teamwork. The veterans we’ve hired also have a solid work ethic – that alone is worth a lot.”
Not Your Typical “Mom and Pop” Shop
“Cash America is not your typical mom-and-pop shop,” she went on. “We are the largest chain of our kind in the United States. Our stores are clean and well-lit.” Cash America has been in business since 1984. The average tenure of its employees is four-and-a-half years, but many district and store managers have been with the company for more than 20 years.
Robinson immediately tries to dispel any pre-conceived notions about the pawn industry when speaking with job candidates. “I ask them, ‘Have you ever been to one of our stores?’ If they haven’t, I suggest they visit one and talk with the employees there. We are very transparent.”
New managers go through the company’s eight-week training program, which consists of a combination of on-the-job training and online coursework. “We teach new employees our core values; how to create a great customer experience; customer loan qualifications; product knowledge; how to test metal for gold; and how to examine and place a value on gem stones.”
Since some of the items purchased and pawned at Cash America are firearms, military experience often comes in handy. All employees must learn each state’s firearms laws and how to conduct a background check for any prospective buyer.
The Cash America opportunity offers its employees a great work/life balance with great benefits and plenty of opportunity for advancement. Part time opportunities are also available. “Our stores are a great fit for military spouses as well,” she said.