Hiring for Restaurants: How to hire the right people fast


Discover the secret to attracting & hiring quality employees to fill and grow your restaurant team quickly

Congratulations! You've used every bit of innovation, grit, and determination to survive and stay in business during the most challenging restaurant year imaginable. Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel as health restrictions begin to lift across North America. Guests are eager to return to restaurant patios and indoor dining experiences after a year of carryout and delivery. 

Restaurants face a new challenge as they struggle to keep up with pent-up customer demand: a lack of restaurant staff. The entire restaurant industry is understaffed, with many markets reporting a labor shortage of skilled and experienced restaurant workers. In addition, many furloughed restaurant employees have changed careers during the pandemic and are now declining to return to full time restaurant work. These factors leave restaurants struggling to hire and retain quality staff members as patios open and in-person dining resumes. 

If you're a restaurant owner currently struggling to find enough people for your team, you're not alone. This article will discuss strategies you can use to attract and successfully hire team members in a competitive environment. Using these strategies will allow your restaurant to hire quality employees quicker and edge out your competition.

Be specific about hard and soft job requirements.

It's tempting to craft a wishlist of skills & previous restaurant experience for your "dream" candidate when creating a job posting. However, this usually results in an intimidating list of job requirements that scares off qualified candidates who have only some of your requested skills. So instead, divide your job requirements into "hard" and "soft" categories. Hard requirements are unchangeable job requirements, such as working under pressure in a high volume restaurant. Soft requirements include skills or experience you could help the right candidate develop after joining your restaurant team, such as providing Smart Serve training to your new bartenders. 

Separating job requirements into "hard" and "soft" categories will make your job post more appealing to a wide range of candidates. In addition, you'll show jobseekers that you are committed to developing their skills and helping them succeed at your restaurant. You'll also be able to prioritize and rank incoming applications based on how successfully they fulfill your hard requirements. 

Offer competitive compensation and benefits.

If you're having trouble attracting job applicants or retaining employees, your compensation package probably isn't in line with your competition. First, do a quick Google search to see what top employers in your area offer as compensation. Then, survey current employees to see what compensation or benefits they're looking for and tailor your job offer to meet their needs. For example, do workers need part-time or flexible hours to accommodate school or family commitments? Are they looking for higher wages or tips? Are seasonal hires instead looking for positions with longer-term job security?

Increasing your compensation package has positive long-term benefits for your restaurant. Well-paid workers have higher job satisfaction, will remain loyal to your restaurant, and become recruiters when you have new positions to fill. To offset the financial costs of increasing wages, check if your province or state offers grants or wage subsidy programs to help rehire employees who were furloughed during the pandemic. 

Emphasize worker safety.

Workers have legitimate concerns about their health and safety as the pandemic continues and may be hesitant to accept or return to customer-facing service positions. Therefore, it's crucial to show job applicants that you have safety precautions in place to protect your team's health. Be specific about your safety & cleanliness protocols, such as providing PPE, instituting daily health checks, and offering paid time off if employees or family members are sick. You'll instill confidence that employees will remain safe while working in your restaurant. 

Be proactive about recruiting & nurturing talent. 

Always allow your existing staff to apply for new jobs within your restaurant. For example, dishwashers may be tired of their role and could be interested in joining the front of house as a server. A kitchen helper may be interested in joining the line cooks. Even if they don't have skills or previous experience in this new role, they already fit well with your team and understand the work environment. Internal promotion saves training time and is a great way to fill skilled restaurant positions quickly.

Word of mouth and personal recommendations are often the best way to recruit quality external candidates. Ask everyone in your network, including family members, patrons, and suppliers, for referrals. Loyal, happy employees will gladly recommend friends who are hard workers and would make an excellent addition to the team. Provide incentives or referral bonuses to motivate employees to join your informal recruiting team.

Make it easy to apply.

Make it as easy as possible for candidates to submit their contact information and an application package. Don't post vague job descriptions or force applicants to register for a third-party recruiting website to view your job ads. Candidates who can quickly review your complete job posting, application instructions, and contact details are more likely to apply. 

Most jobseekers prefer the convenience and ease of submitting job applications online. First, create an application page that is easily accessible on a mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer. Next, include clear instructions on how to upload or send in a cover letter and CV. Finally, advertise your job openings on job boards and social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. 

Move fast.

Great candidates are likely to receive multiple interviews and offers from interested employers in this competitive job market. Unfortunately, your top-rated candidate may accept a job elsewhere while you're still considering your options. If you wait too long, you'll waste your time and have to restart the hiring process.

When you find a great candidate, move fast! Set up email alerts to notify you when new applications and interview confirmations come in. Respond quickly to candidate requests and schedule interviews as soon as possible. If the management team needs a few days to review multiple candidates, be transparent and provide clear timelines on when you'll update on their application status. Job applicants will appreciate the transparency and are more likely to provide you with information on whether they're entertaining multiple offers.

Is your restaurant looking to hire quality team members quickly? Sociavore's all-in-one restaurant management platform includes everything you need to manage your business online, including built-in job application management. Use the Job Creator tool create customized job listings and generate mobile-friendly application pages right on your restaurant website. Receive virus-screened application packages directly in your e-mail - no third-party recruiting website required. Accept and manage application submissions all from one Dashboard. With a little help from Sociavore, you'll be well on your way to finding the best fit for your restaurant team. 


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