Trader Joe’s employment applications

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Are you into healthy eating? Do you like working with people? Are you an enthusiastic, up-beat person? Then Trader Joe’s employment may be just the career for you.

Company History

Trader Joe's logo

Trader Joe’s had its start in the Los Angeles area as Pronto Markets in 1958, when it was founded by Joe Coulombe. Originally the Pronto Markets were very small neighbourhood convenience stores. Fearing endless competition with the larger 7-11 chain, Coulombe re-named his stores to Trader Joe’s in 1967, and changed their focus, with heavy emphasis on little-known and inexpensive wines. In 1979, Trader Joe’s was bought out by German financier Theo Albrecht, and is still owned by the family trust which he established.

Trader Joe’s uses a different business model than a typical grocery store. Most grocery stores carry about 50,000 different items (commonly known as SKU’s, which stands for Stock Keeping Units). Trader Joe’s, in contrast, carries only about 4,000 SKU’s, and roughly 80% of those are Trader Joe’s own house brand. This, by the way, is also the subject of the only real criticism that has ever been leveled at Trader Joe’s, because most house brand products are not labeled as to country of origin. On the positive side, Trader Joe’s has stated that its house brand products contain no artificial colors, flavours, or preservatives, contain no MSG or trans fats, and are made from non-genetically-modified ingredients.

Trader Joe’s stores are present in California, thirty other states, and the District Of Columbia.

Trader Joe's, Union Square, New York City. Image via Wikimedia, author David Shankbone, image used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Trader Joe’s Jobs

Job descriptions at Trader Joe’s are less diverse than at many of the firms that we review, simply because each employee is expected to be more versatile, and can expect to be assigned a variety of tasks in the course of a typical work week.

Store Crew – These are the people that make the stores run. Some are part-time and some are full-time, but there are always opportunities, and many Trader Joe’s managers originally started as Crew Members.

Store Management – If you have previous experience in retail grocery management, then this may be the path for you.

Office Crew – Trader Joe’s does have a small staff of people who work in district and corporate offices, but they warn you that this is only a small percentage of the overall workforce, and openings are rare.

Recent Grads – Trader Joe’s does have a special program for recent college graduates, which starts them at the assistant manager position they call “Mate”, in keeping with the general nautical theme of the stores and company.

Trader Joe’s has an impressively high employee satisfaction rating, in anonymous feedback from current and former employees. According to the same anonymous feedback, 76% “approve of” CEO Dan Bane.

Comments in anonymous employee feedback are generally very positive. The only complaint which appears at all frequently is that promotions can come rather slowly.


Getting That Job at Trader Joe’s

The Trader Joe’s careers site is at . The first thing you will notice is that it’s really very simple; you will just see the four categories listed in the section above. Under the heading “Store Crew”, click the red “Find Out More” button. Next, you’ll see a blurb about the position, and at the bottom a link in red which you can click to search current openings. From there, just enter your zip code in the top box, and use the dropdown box below that to choose how far you’re willing to commute, then click the search button. If you don’t find anything near you, they suggest you go into your local Trader Joe’s and fill out an application anyhow. Note that they do not accept online applications for hourly positions. However, before you visit their store to fill out the application, look at the right side of your screen, near the bottom. See where it says “TJ’s Employment Application”? You can print that out, fill it out at home at your leisure, and then take it with you to your local store. Be aware that it’s a PDF file, and it can take a few seconds for your browser to load the Adobe Acrobat plugin.

And now, a few odds and ends of information about getting a job at Trader Joe’s –

  •  Average hourly wage for a Crew Member is around $13.00 per hour, with reports varying from a low of $8.00 per hour to a high of $20.00 per hour. Be aware that part-time jobs are going to be closer to the lower end of that range, and full-time jobs nearer the upper end.
  • Applicants do not report any consistent pattern of interview process.
  • Reports indicate that full-time employees often work 50 hours a week, and in some cases as much as 60 hours per week, especially in the “Mate” position, (assistant store manager). In many cases, employees are required to work back-to-back shifts once a week, for example working until 11pm one night, and having to be back at 7am the next morning.
  • Employees report that the job can be physically demanding, with heavy lifting required, and expected to be accomplished at a brisk pace.
  • Applicants report that the vast majority of the interview focuses on issues of attitude, with the interviewer not really asking questions as such, but rather having a conversation with the applicant.
  • Employees consistently report very good to excellent benefits. Trader Joe’s is one of the very few corporate employers to extend employee benefits to Domestic Partners, (that is, someone the employee is living with but not married to). This is, of course, of particular interest to LGBT couples, and Trader Joe’s seems to be particularly good about hiring from the LGBT community.

Because so much of the Trader Joe’s hiring process seems rather vague and nebulous, I stopped in to my own neighbourhood Trader Joe’s, and asked the Captain, (that is, the Store Manager), if she had any tips or hints for those seeking Trader Joe’s employment. Her response was this, “We look for people that are enthusiastic about Trader Joe’s. Enthusiasm and integrity are the two big things we look for.”




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