Crash course in getting a job with store giant

Sainsbury's shopping trolleys are lined up together outside a Sainsbury's supermarket in Brighton, southern England May 11, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Sainsbury's shopping trolleys are lined up together outside a Sainsbury's supermarket in Brighton, southern England May 11, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
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IT’S the first time Sainsbury’s has organised help with recruitment in a town – but it wasn’t enough, claim job-hungry hopefuls in Kelso.

They told of the system crashing, people hogging computers as they applied for several jobs and queuing for more than a day to apply.

More than 300 people tried to apply on the first day alone for jobs with the supermarket giant which opens on the edge of town in October. But queues at the library to apply online – the only option – meant many were put off.

Community councillor Colin McGrath, who is also an employment consultant, said: “It could have been a great PR exercise for Sainsbury’s, but they were swamped. I have had a number of people complaining. The way it is being done is not professional.”

And he suggested arranging to use the 20-30 computers at Kelso High School would have been better.

One hopeful queued from when the library opened to its closing at lunchtime, when their turn was next, and then again throughout the afternoon, but still didn’t get to apply. After complaining to Sainsbury’s staff, they were put first the following morning.

“It took me 20 minutes, but I only applied for one job,” said the person who did not want to be named. A woman said there were six people using the library computers and a further estimated 15 people waiting at any one time.

She commented: “People would come in, see the queue and wait for half an hour, and then go away.”

“Some were applying for several jobs and they were on the computer from 10am to 1pm while we were waiting. It was badly organised – they should have said you can apply for three or four jobs and then go to the back of the queue and let somebody else on.

“Partly the problem was people didn’t know how to use the computer, partly it was because the system crashed, and partly it was because people did more than one application.”

The woman added: “They said people at home had struggled too if they had a BT provider because the programme they needed wouldn’t download. A man was on his computer at home for four hours and still didn’t manage to do it.

“And the system crashed because there were lots of applications coming in. It was a mess but the people from Sainsbury’s were really helpful to people using the computers in the library. They said they didn’t think they would have this big a response, but in these dire times the company should have thought about it.

“The ladies from the library had all these people queuing disrupting the normal life of the library and people were complaining.”

The company set up the recruitment days following a meeting with the town’s traders, community and other councillors, and MSP John Lamont when they were warned not everyone in Kelso would have access to a computer.

The new store manager, Sharon Mathews, said: “All of Sainsbury’s recruitment across the UK is done online and in conjunction with the local job centre, as we find this is the fairest and most successful way to recruit. As Kelso does not have a local job centre, the drop-in sessions were provided as an additional resource to help people with this process.”

The company held seven recruitment sessions during the last two weeks.

“Their purpose was to give people access to a computer and to provide them with some general information about Sainsbury’s recruitment process. The sessions were very popular, with over 300 people turning up on the first day, which did unfortunately mean not everyone was able to use the computers,” she said.

“We are delighted with the level of interest the community has shown, and many of the jobs are now filled by local residents.”

A company spokesperson said they suspected the crash problem would be more likely to do with individual computers rather than the company website.

Sainsbury’s was interviewing more than 60 people for jobs in Kelso yesterday and interviews would continue through the week.

The company said yesterday that there were still a few jobs available listed at