A Hire Perspective: Hospitality Recruitment 101

Fri 5 April, 2019

Your team is one of your biggest assets. Your livelihood is in their hands, and theirs in yours. You will be spending more of your life with them than you will with some of your loved ones, so choosing the right people to crew your ship is one of the fundamentals to a happy life in hospitality.

Staff turnover is written into the DNA of hospitality, an industry that is magnetic to the gifted vagabonds of the world.

Your team is one of your biggest assets. Your livelihood is in their hands, and theirs in yours. You will be spending more of your life with them than you will with some of your loved ones, so choosing the right people to crew your ship is one of the fundamentals to a happy life in hospitality.

I’ve loved my years in hospitality, for better or worse. In that time I’ve developed a few principles which form my approach to recruitment. They’re not perfect, but they have certainly helped me pull some talented and funky rabbits out of the hat when they’re needed most.

1. Build Your Structure

Which roles are essential for you to operate with? Which will become available as you grow? Which can you do without?

Clearly and conscientiously mapping out the essential positions of your organisation will not only make hiring easier, it will make your employees time at your company more enjoyable.

As an operator, once you have designed your employment structure you will be able to develop accurate wage budgets, so don’t skimp on the thought process.

2. Design the Roles

You have your structure, now it’s time to develop job descriptions for each individual role and assign core objectives. Budget the expected hours and appropriate pay rates for the skill sets required to achieve these objectives.

Having to let someone go because you didn’t understand what was required for their job to be completed is a hard lesson to learn for everyone involved.

With a lot of thought and planning, you will understand most of the structure, roles and objectives, but not all of them. Every role needs room to grow, and objectives need to remain dynamic enough to be collaborated on and completed by others in your structure.

3. Find The Talent

To find the right talent, you have a few approaches available. Some for the bold, some for the patient and some for the time poor:

Talent searches platforms: Seek, Indeed, Coffeejobs, Barcats etc.

Posting a job advertisement on a search platform will always draw a mixed bag of talent. The platform you advertise on needs to be relevant to the role, as it can be costly to advertise here, and choosing the right medium for the role advertised is crucial to finding the best talent.

Social media channels & community groups:

Social media advertisements can be a great way to draw people in, but you have to keep a few things in mind:

  • People will always judge a book by it’s cover: If you don’t have nice content to accompany a well written and appealing advert you won’t have a lot of luck.
  • Yes… its free. But if it’s free, you’ll have to do the legwork, source the resumes and ask the appropriate screening questions to save wasting your time and theirs.

Headhunting & poaching

Effective but intimidating. In hospitality the best proof of talent is to bear witness to a cool-headed weapon crush a rush. Be warned, you’re in for some awkward moments if you’re sprung approaching an operation’s star talent.

4. The Interview

If you’re an experienced hospitality operator you will be able to sense fairly quickly if your interviewee is legit. Think about specific questions which could only be answered by someone with the relevant experience. For example, when hiring for head baristas throw some curveballs in, such as:

Q) When dialling in a coffee, what process do you take?

Q) How would you communicate a coffee recipe to a fellow staff member?

Q) How have you overcome coffee stock rotation issues in the past?

For a chef?

Q) What has been your best cost saving implementation and how did it influence quality?

A service team member?

Q) How have you made a customer interaction from a negative into a positive?

Asking the right questions without being sidetracked by small talk will solicit the right answers. There will be time for getting to know each other after the formalities are covered.

An important lesson I’ve learned; don’t let the history and experience of people blind your judgement. Remember that a business is staffed by a team of personalities, not by one. It is a balance of attitudes that will make your team successful, not one rockstar.

5. Know When to Say Goodbye

In my time in hospitality I wish I had seen less of the following:

  • Employees hired in to the wrong role, only to end up back on the job market 2 months later
  • Employers firing staff because of mismanagement and lack of effective direction
  • Organisational failure because of lack of discipline

Ensure that when you hire, you hire right. Don’t hire out of desperation (if you can avoid it). Putting someone into a position they aren’t qualified or even built for is bad for both of you.

If you’re impatient, greedy, self-centred and lacking in empathy, perhaps you should consider real estate.

If you’re too kind, trusting and prone to naivety, you should reconsider operating in hospitality.

To be a boss in hospitality, you have to have both a thick skin and a soft heart. Fire when necessary, hire by necessity.

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