Tips to Improve Hospitality Recruitment Strategies in the UK Sector

Tips to Improve Hospitality Recruitment Strategies in the UK Sector

The hospitality sector is of integral importance to the UK, providing £66B gross value added contribution per year. Three million people are working in this industry, or 8% of their national workforce. Official figures show that 86% of these work in restaurants, pubs, and hotels. While recruitment has become increasingly challenging in the UK in recent years, the hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit.

The Recruitment Landscape for the Hospitality Sector

Figures suggest that vacancy rates in the accommodation and food services sector were 71% higher than in 2020. Hospitality firms are finding it twice as difficult to fill vacancies than other industries. The Office for National Statistics released figures in May 2023 showing 132,000 vacancies in the sector – the third highest of all sectors in the UK market. The trend is on a downward trajectory, suggesting that the situation is improving, but there are many vacant roles to fill. Even pre-pandemic and Brexit, there were a high number of job vacancies in this sector, at 6% rather than 4% for UK industries overall. Also, of all the vacancies in the hospitality industry, 42% are categorised as “hard-to-fill.”

There are various reasons for the surge in vacancies in the hospitality sector. The biggest problem is a lack of labour, with shortages driving an upward tick in hard-to-fill roles in the hospitality industry. A major factor impacting this has been Brexit. Figures show that since early 2020, approximately 300,000 hospitality professionals have left the UK. The more challenging regulatory environment has made it harder for EU citizens to work in the UK, which has a clear impact on the workforce.

Another challenge is the perception attached to hospitality roles. Evidence suggests that hospitality can often be seen as a sector where people work for stopgaps, weekend work, or for a little extra money on the side. There is a need for organisations to challenge this and demonstrate how exciting and varied career opportunities hospitality can provide. Businesses that can demonstrate growth, learning possibilities, and potential career pathways to help better attract talent in this sector. Understanding what can be done to address recruitment challenges is helpful to recruiting talent in hospitality.

hospitality recruitment strategies


Transforming the Employee Value Proposition

There is an opportunity to improve the employee value proposition (EVP) and messaging around this to attract new talent. Research insight provided by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport indicated that employers in this sector have a better chance of hiring and retaining employees if they can show career progression, have a positive and supportive workforce, and increase accessibility. These are all helpful insights that a revised EVP can encapsulate and enable a greater likelihood of hiring talent in hospitality.

Improving job quality is highlighted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) as one way to attract talent, which can also be worked into the EVP and employer branding. Companies should review all candidate touchpoints to ensure they promote a positive employer brand. Checking these can show how the brand is presented and if it's being showcased optimally. Areas to consider include company culture, values, and success. When reviewing, ensure messaging includes showcasing genuine career progression, training and development, and providing people with more flexible working options. These can be worked into the careers site and recruitment materials to promote better chances of hiring success. 

This is critical in employer branding and the EVP because it drives a shared sense of purpose among employees and attracts candidates who are more likely to be the right fit and better aligned with the culture. It is also essential to include other areas of value besides salary and benefits, which can help improve employee engagement, motivation, and performance.

There are many exciting career opportunities in this sector, so transforming the perspective in the minds of potential talent is vital. One of the things employees desire is a feeling of satisfaction and purpose. So, for example, to promote a hotel  staff's personal and professional development, employers can create avenues for them to enhance their skill set. This can be done by showcasing what real employees have achieved on marketing materials and on the website. Also, providing interesting case studies that pinpoint progression pathways will help candidates better understand why they should consider hospitality over other sectors. Implementing these practices makes a difference in people viewing, and even applying, to a company’s open positions.

hospitality recruitment

Tip: Partnering with a recruitment marketing agency, like Recruitics, can help companies with the creation of eye-catching job advertisements and postings to gain success in their hiring efforts. With the help of recruitment experts, one of Recruitics’ hospitality clients in the UK has generated over 96,500 applications and 415,000+ job views in 2023 so far, with more than half the year to go.

Employees look for aspects of their work that provide meaning. A key way to address this is to help provide them with personal and professional growth by offering development opportunities to help them grow their skill set. Video can help showcase this and provide authenticity. Evidence supports that video supports effective recruitment. For example, 46% of candidates will consider a job and are almost a third more likely to respond when a hiring manager records a video for the recruitment process. Also, 80% of people report that someone talking about a job on video helps them understand what is on offer.


Effective Recruitment Advertising

While companies have been investing more into recruitment and talent management budgets, funds need to be assigned selectively to recruitment efforts to stand out from the competition and win over the top talent. Hard-to-fill roles may be better filled by not relying on traditional techniques but instead trying new channels in an omnichannel approach. There are many places to advertise that can attract different groups of potential candidates. Getting creative with advertising approaches can help the brand stand out. For example, radio can be very effective and is often underused. Billboard advertising can also attract a lot of attention in urban areas, while text recruiting may be worth considering too. These unique strategies are huge when recruiting talent who are always on the go, such as those in hospitality who are driving to and from shifts, since they might be viewing these mediums more than typical. 

Social media is also a key component in recruitment advertising and can help build brand awareness in the first instance. It is also beneficial for building and growing a talent pool and engaging with active and passive talent. While a person might not be actively looking for a role at that time, they may remember the content the hospitality firm posted when they are ready to look for a new role.

Within recruitment advertising, there is also an opportunity to improve roles to make these more attractive to potential new recruits. As highlighted by the UK Government report into the hospitality industry mentioned earlier, positions are often considered unskilled, but they do require specific skills to be successful – particularly regarding communication, social and emotional skills, digital skills, and foreign language skills. It is essential to look at ways to improve advertising content to make it more compelling to actual target recruits. Highlighting the skills needed and how candidates can apply their knowledge to advance in their hospitality careers will likely attract talent. Messaging matters, and updating content can help better target top candidates. When deciding on messaging, consider search engine optimisation (SEO) for the best results. Including keywords and key phrases that possible candidates may search for when looking for a job will help advertisements get found.

hotel staff recruitment

Tip: Developing a candidate persona (or profile) will help target individuals with desired skills. These might include interpersonal skills, teamwork, attention to detail, and being well organised. This helps companies create content and advertising that directly speak to the top talent they are specifically seeking and meet candidates where they are.


Learning from Recruitment Analytics 

In hospitality recruitment, analytics are critical in seeing where the return on investment (ROI) is best achieved. This enables better planning of recruitment campaigns that are cost-efficient and that deliver talented candidates. It is beneficial when trying out new channels or platforms as well – to gauge the effectiveness of each. Given that recruitment strategies are necessarily different for every firm, analytics provide a tailored approach to understanding whether recruitment strategies are successful.

Also, poor recruitment choices can be made when there’s no clarity around hiring goals, leading to bad experiences for candidates. Ensure hiring goals are in place, then hiring professionals can review analytics and gain a holistic understanding of the performance of their recruitment efforts. This helps recruiting teams make sense of the data and make the best decisions for the company. 

There are a bunch of different metrics that can be captured, but some, in particular, stand out. Time to hire is key, as are cost-per-hire and cost-per-quality. Understanding how much it costs to hire a new employee is critical in planning recruitment efforts. Cost-per-quality is a metric that pinpoints spending against the number of quality applicants received for a job. Also, understanding the offer acceptance rate is important because if this is low, something might be going wrong. It is a waste of time and money making offers to candidates that are not interested or qualified, so it is essential to get it right. The key is getting data analytics in place, being able to view it, and building a story based on it.


Hospitality recruitment can be challenging. There are hard-to-fill roles and lots of vacancies, but attracting exceptional candidates is achievable by developing and fine-tuning the EVP, honing advertising, and improving data analytics. 

As the hospitality industry enters their busy season, it's essential for employers to begin ramping up their recruitment efforts to ensure they’re recruiting and retaining top talent. Teaming up with Recruitics can help meet your challenges and exceed your goals by leveraging data and our skilled recruitment marketing team to help produce results.

Get in touch today with the Recruitics team to develop a comprehensive strategy for recruiting in your location and your sector!

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