“Although restaurant job growth shows no signs of slowing – 2015 will mark the fourth straight year with employment gains of at least 3.5 percent – there are indications that job vacancies are becoming more difficult to fill,” says the National Restaurant Association. Not just in New York, but the US as a whole, foodservice enterprises are struggling to attract and keep their team members. From the National Restaurant Association to the Washington Post, everyone is talking about the labor shortage. Thus, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you’re using the right strategies to attract the right talent. In this month’s Enterprise Insight, we will review three strategies that need to be in your toolbox and put to good use:
Define the Job
The purpose of detailing the job description is two fold: it helps target candidates and ensures a good fit. By really defining what the job is and communicating that, you can get attention from the right applicants. Obviously, you don’t want to hire just any “baker” if you specifically need someone for an artisanal, sourdough-driven bread program. Likewise, if the General Manager position for a café is really to be the assistant to the owner, but the job description doesn’t read as such, the candidate you interview won’t take the position.
Before posting any ads or interviewing any candidates, the best use of your time is to clearly and very specifically define the responsibilities and abilities required for the position. The more descriptive you can get here, the better for both you and the candidate.
Once you’ve clearly defined the responsibilities and abilities the position requires, you can move on to advertising the opening through the proper channels. Just the way your description is targeted at a particular audience, you need to advertise in the appropriate channel to reach the right audience. Here are the strategies we use with our clients:
- Review your options for outlets from both a price and audience perspective, and post accordingly. For example, Good Food Jobs is a great place to advertise a Manager or Director position, but maybe not for cashiers.
- Post wide and far. You want to ensure that your opening gets as much awareness as possible if you want the best probability of get the best hire. Here are some outlets we use: Good Food Jobs, Culinary Agents, Harri, Culintro, Chef’s Connection, EasyPairings, Shiftgig, Poached, and Craigslist. Also, be sure to post to the career services of culinary schools across the country. Students in California may very well be looking for jobs in New York!
- There are two more outlets that are great, often over-looked options: your social media and existing team.
- People that admire, like, and/or respect your brand are definitely following you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Use that to your advantage and post there.
- Secondly, everyone on your team knows people outside of your enterprise that work in the industry, and most people like working with their friends. Consider offering a referral bonus to your team members for bringing in candidates that get, accept, and stay in a position.
Ask the Right Questions
Getting the right people interested in your post and in your enterprise for the interview is only half the battle. Interviews can mislead both employee and employer despite all previous efforts, so it’s the most important step in the process to get right.
When it comes to interviewing, we advise our clients to take great care in executing the following items properly:
- Doing Multiple Interviews: it’s important that as many people on your team get to interact with the applicant as possible. At the first stage, this means having at least two people sit down and do a traditional interview with the candidate.
- Interview for Technical and Cultural Fit: An applicant might be technically proficient at everything the job requires—but is a total pain to work with! That will inevitably end in disaster. Likewise, someone that’s a great fit for the company but unfit for the position will cause just as much trouble. Thus, it’s important to screen candidates for what they can do and how they behave.
- Schedule a Trail: For both front and back of house positions, it’s important to invite the candidates into the enterprise for a trail or stage once they’ve passed the interview phase. This way, you can get a true-to-form example of how they work and how they interact—reinforcing or correcting your impressions from the interview.
The labor shortage is definitely real, and it’s definitely putting real pressure on employers. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep your hiring practices focused and polished. Remember: define the job, post strategically, and ask the right questions.