Businesses are shuttered. The economy is struggling. In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, job opportunities seem few and far between. However, that’s not true of the delivery business.
With people ordering necessities from their phones and computers, companies are hiring drivers and in-store shoppers in droves. While the rest of the gig economy is hurting, app-driven companies like DoorDash, Grubhub and Instacart have announced huge pushes to sign up as many new shoppers and drivers as possible to meet the unprecedented demand. In many instances, all you have to do is download the app, sign up and get to work.
Here, we zero-in on this growing segment of the gig economy to learn the types of jobs available, how to apply for one and who’s hiring.
Who should apply?
Most restaurant or retail workers laid off or furloughed since the coronavirus took hold will easily qualify for a job as a delivery driver or in-store shopper. These services aren’t picky — they're hiring anyone who meets the following requirements (which differ slightly between apps):
- Be at least 18-years old
- Able to lift a certain amount of weight (usually 30 or 40 pounds)
- Pass a background check
- Have a smartphone
Additionally, drivers will need:
- Access to a car
- A valid driver’s license
- Auto insurance
What does the job entail?
Generally, your opportunities will differ based on whether you have a car.
If you have a car:
Virtually everyone is seeking delivery drivers right now. To qualify, you’ll need a valid driver’s license, auto insurance coverage and access to a car. In some cities, a scooter or bicycle may suffice.
Drivers will be responsible for picking up and delivering orders from restaurants, grocery stores and other essential businesses. Food delivery apps, such as Uber Eats, will task you with picking up and delivering an order. With grocery or product delivery apps, however, you may be responsible for shopping for the customer’s order as well.
The best thing about gig work is that you call the shots. As an independent contractor, you can work as much or as little as you’d like, and on your own schedule. That said, certain hours will be more lucrative than others. Shipt (Target's delivery app), for instance, prioritizes drivers who have availability on Sundays and Mondays, their busiest shopping days.
It’s very easy to sign up. You can sign up entirely through the app — no in-person interview required. You’ll want to have your driver’s license and social security number number on hand before you apply. In most cases, once you pass a background check, you'll be ready to roll.
If you don’t have a car:
If you don’t own a car, there’s still plenty of opportunity. You could work as an in-store shopper who prepares orders for pick-up or delivery. Grocery delivery apps and some grocery stores themselves offer such options.
Unlike the full-service shoppers who also make deliveries, in-store shoppers will receive support and instructions from a supervisor, making work feel more like a job than a gig. You have a weekly schedule based on your availability, and you’re paid at the end of each week. Finally, you’re eligible for any part-time benefits the service offers, such as a 401(k) account and opportunities to further your career.
While the structure and support system are nice, there are downsides. You may have to attend an in-person interview and training as well as stick to a schedule. The hiring process is fast, but not quite as fast as it is for delivery drivers.
How should I apply?
Unlike working for UPS, FedEx or a restaurant, gig economy delivery jobs are mediated entirely through an app. You can’t simply drop in to fill out an application in a store like you would at Domino’s or Pizza Hut, so you’ll need a base-level understanding of technology.
Once you've downloaded the app, create an account. Most services will guide you through a series of questions determining whether you qualify for the job, as well as listings of jobs in your area. When nothing is available, you may be able to add your name to a waitlist.
Keep in mind there's a thin line between employee and contractor. A recent law in California, for example, will force companies to reclassify two-thirds of their contract workers, so they're entitled to minimum wage, sick leave, worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits. Know the law in your state as you pursue jobs in the gig economy.
The delivery business is booming. You won’t have any trouble finding a job. Here's a list of the key players urgently looking for workers. Additionally, search online to see if there are similar services in your state not included in the list below.
- Instacart (bringing on board more than 300,000 new workers)
- Uber Eats
- Amazon Flex
- Shipt Shopper
- Favor (Texas only)
Are there similar jobs available?
If gig economy work doesn't suit you, there are plenty of restaurants and stores hiring part- and full-time employees. Domino's, Pizza Hut and others are urgently hiring drivers, cooks, customer service reps and managers as they alter operations to cope with the coronavirus outbreak. Similarly, grocery stores like Whole Foods and Kroger are expanding their in-store shopping and delivery capacity.
The following restaurants are actively looking for delivery drivers:
The following grocery stores and pharmacies are actively looking for in-store shoppers and/or delivery drivers:
You can apply to any of these jobs either in-person or through the employer's digital job portal. Either way, you should update your resume before you begin the application process. And, writing a simple cover letter could come in handy, as well.