Recruitment: appealing to the needs of the job seeker

Have you experienced disappointing service standards at restaurants, bars and cafes lately? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. The extreme shortage of skilled staff is prompting a fair bit of ‘warm body recruitment’, and the resulting impact on service standards is heartbreaking. Within our client base, some of the best managers we deal with have been looking for skilled key staff (assistant managers, sous chefs, etc.) for months without success.

If you’re finding it difficult to attract good people, you need to accept that there are plenty of them out there, but for some reason they are not choosing to apply to work for you. Good staff have plenty of choices at the moment because there are more jobs on offer than there are staff to fill them. So, why aren’t they applying to work for you?

In an environment of relatively low unemployment, job seekers are concerned with ‘What’s in it for me?’. They will only apply for jobs that offer the most in terms of perceived personal benefits. If you’re advertising a ‘we want’ ad, e.g. Grill Chef wanted, must be awesome, give some thought to what you are communicating about your attitude toward staff — especially to the superstar who is not unemployed, but is carefully looking for their next opportunity?

The superstars you really want are looking for personal benefits beyond just employment. If all you are offering is award rate pay; no career path; no structured training and development; long, unsociable hours in a chaotic and punishing work environment; why would any self-respecting intelligent person want to work for you? Talented people have higher expectations than this. Some operators should seriously re-evaluate what they are offering in terms of employment benefits to attract good people. If that can’t be done, a good hard look at the business model might be necessary.

During our years of consulting and recruiting for hospitality businesses we’ve discovered that trying to save money in the recruitment process is like shooting yourself in the foot. You are only as good as the people you employ to run your business. It is worth spending the money to present your business and the jobs you have on offer in a way that sets it apart from the hundreds of other businesses trying to fill the same kinds of vacancies.

The challenge with recruitment is to get good staff to apply to work for you rather than the hundreds of other businesses looking for that same kind of person. Your recruitment advertising should be constructed so that the job you are seeking to fill is obviously a way better deal than other jobs advertised.

If your attempts to find good staff aren’t working, be prepared to try something different. Pro-actively approaching hospitality colleges for staff; offering a management traineeship to school-leavers; and placing job ads that clearly state the benefits of the role, where your target audience will see them are just a few ideas to get you started.

To learn more about recruitment and selection methods designed to help you load your team with more stable, more suitable staff, consider the 2-day How to Choose workshop conducted regularly in Melbourne.

Chris Lambert