How to Recruit Restaurant Staff: Hiring Tips for Hospitality

Staff in workplace

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

If you have found recruitment tricky lately, you’re not alone. Following the latest reopening of restaurants and the hospitality industry, recruiting has been hard for many. One in ten hospitality workers are said to have left the industry due to lockdown and Brexit. Some staff are thought to have moved to other sectors and others have left the UK.

It’s more important than ever to have the best techniques in place to attract the right staff and retain them.

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Why is hospitality recruitment tough now?

Not only have lots of former hospitality staff switched industries for more security during COVID, many are thought to have left the UK due to Brexit, so there are less staff around. On top of that, lots of restaurants have expanded into delivery and click and collect and have had to expand their teams or take on people with different skills.You may be facing that challenge yourself.

The seasons will always have an impact on hospitality. Restaurants in UK tourist hotspots may feel they need more staff than ever this year. There is so much pent up demand due to people only just being able to get out again after lockdown and so many more Brits holidaying at home this year too. Other tourist related industries may be vying for staff that you want too.

How to make your restaurant attractive to job seekers

It is currently an employee’s market when it comes to restaurant recruitment so you need to be an attractive proposition. That isn’t just about offering the best pay, which may or may not be possible. It’s also about being a good employer. Make sure you are doing everything you can to motivate existing employees and let people know how great you are to work for. Promote yourself on social media and other channels. Let your current employees know it would be a massive help for them to join in — being careful not to put pressure on as that can be demotivating!

Ensure you have systems in place for great management of your team both front of house and in the kitchen.
You also want to appeal to people who loved working in hospitality and have drifted to a different sector. You could reach out directly to former staff or people you know who used to work in the industry. Remind them of all the fun and positives about the job.

How to advertise your available jobs

Make sure you make a noise about your vacancies everywhere that your potential recruits could be.
That includes:

Social Media

While LinkedIn is usually the first platform that comes to mind when thinking about recruitment, try to use all social media channels including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Reaching out to your customer base to ask them to pass on the word that you’re hiring is often an effective method and you never know, one of your regulars may even end up becoming your new hire.

Local Listing Sites

Sites like GumTree, Monster and GlassDoor are all popular websites that people frequently visit when looking for a new position. Be sure to optimise your job ad with the correct keywords so that it can easily be found when people are using search engines.

Make the listing as accurate and detailed as possible, providing contact details so that any potential candidates can reach out for more information, if required.

Word of Mouth

Asking your employees to spread the word is a great way to manage restaurant staff recruitment. Your employees may have friends, family and connections that are on the lookout for a hospitality position and could be perfect for the job. You can even offer an incentive for recommendations that lead to successful hires.

Some restaurants have got inventive with referral bonuses for recommendations that lead to hires. You could offer staff a monetary reward or extra time off. For customers, you could offer gift vouchers if they recommend your vacancy to someone that you hire.

Ask employees to be your advocates and share your social media posts to boost your hospitality recruitment efforts and increase the audience base you are able to reach.

Put up posters

If in doubt, take a traditional route and put up posters around town. Today, many people can experience digital burnout, meaning they may be more perceptive to a good old-fashioned poster on a noticeboard at their local shop or in a window. Make sure you display the vacancy in your restaurant, cafe or hotel too.

Writing Great Job Descriptions

Writing the job description is a crucial part of the hospitality recruitment process as a clear job description will entice the right candidates. However, if the job ad is worded in the wrong way, it could attract applicants that are not suitable for the job.

Here are some of the best ways to create a great job description:

  • Make your job title specific
  • Avoid internal jargon that could confuse the job seeker
  • Open with a strong and clear summary
  • Include details about the working hours and environment
  • Include the exact job location
  • Highlight the day-to-day duties of the position
  • Include both hard and soft skills
  • Include a salary range
  • List your top employee benefits
  • Keep your list concise

Interviewing Tips

It’s natural for you to ask questions to uncover what experience and measurable skills a job candidate has. It’s just as important to ensure they have the right soft skills (attitude, personality, flexibility and motivation). Things to consider for hospitality recruitment include:

  • Can the person perform under pressure?
  • Can they handle complaints or disgruntled customers?
  • Are they honest and trustworthy?
  • Do they have good timekeeping skills?
  • Do they have a presentable appearance?

Might you be able to take someone on who hasn’t got experience but looks like they could be a fast learner and long term asset?

In addition, there are also some preparatory steps you should take yourself before conducting the interview. These include:

  • Setting aside enough time so you’re not rushed
  • Reading through each CV you receive thoroughly
  • Preparing a set of specific questions prepared and ready to ask your candidate

Employee Onboarding Experience

According to engagement experts O.C. Tanner, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. This means that the onboarding process is essential in keeping a low staff turnover rate for your business. When putting in so much effort for the hospitality recruitment process, you’ll want to ensure your new hires stay.

Some best practice plans to put in place include:

  • A buddy-up or mentoring scheme
  • A training programme in place for when the new hire starts
  • Maintain regular contact between the line manager and the new hire
  • Encourage regular two-way feedback so you can continue to enhance the process

Putting an official onboarding process in place and using a team management platform like Square will ensure your new hires have an easy to follow way of learning the ropes in their new role, helping them to feel more comfortable and confident within your organisation.

How to keep your restaurant going when you are short staffed

There’s not an instant fix to resolve staffing issues. Being short staffed is tough on everyone. Some restaurants have had to reduce the number of tables and covers, not just due to social distancing requirements but staffing issues too. If that’s an option you can consider it.
It’s important to show your existing team how grateful you are. Keep them motivated and inform them on how recruitment is going. Let them know that you understand how tough it is.

Also make sure to look after yourself. Burnout is real but you can be your own saviour from it.

There are sure to be some tough moments for restaurant owners, this year especially, but now you can welcome customers back the future is bright.