Restaurant Recruitment: Hiring Strategies for Recruiting Hosts and Waiters

Restaurant Recruitment: Hiring Strategies for Recruiting Hosts and Waiters

It was a struggle in the beginning phase of the pandemic to hire hosts and waiters. Companies needed people working in the restaurants, but there wasn't necessarily a desire for candidates to work in these roles. Many candidates were not seeking out those opportunities to work in person. 

Towards the beginning of this year, however, the candidate pool was definitely in a great spot versus 2021. Companies were able to rebound, which was promising. Hiring professionals were able to target passive candidates and turn them into hires.

Now that we are in Q4 and heading into the end of the year, companies in the food services industry are facing uncertain times again. While the number of hires increased in this sector toward the beginning of this year, that volume has since dropped off. Companies are seeing a shortage of candidates in the hiring funnel, making it necessary for companies to get creative with how to target passive candidates for hosting and service roles.

For hiring professionals, it’s becoming apparent that they need to target those passive candidates in different ways (other than programmatic) to help increase candidate numbers.

Also, candidates are becoming pickier with which companies they are applying to and which positions they choose. Benefits are huge right now for candidates looking for open food services roles, and they are weighing their options more to pick which opportunities might be the best for them. They’re thinking about why they should work at a company and when they can get certain benefits such as education, mentorship, etc. 

It’s clear that what companies were doing pre-COVID isn't cutting it anymore when it comes to recruitment strategies – meaning recruiters can’t be competitive if they’re using dead and stale tactics. Read on to learn what to consider to adjust strategies to recruit in this new hiring landscape.


Adding More to the Media Mix

Programmatic job advertising is an obvious asset when hiring in the food services industry, and that's where the chunk of recruitment budgets go. However, companies should consider how to diversify their media channels instead of relying heavily on programmatic. This can include implementing Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok into the media mix. These social platforms are great channels to connect with younger audiences, like Gen Z

Companies see success on these platforms because organic content does well for these particular roles, since they can show what a day in the life is like at a company. Day in the life content also showcases what it's like working in front-of-house or back-of-house roles, the company’s culture, and shared experiences working at a specific restaurant. Ensure hiring professionals know their audience and what platforms they frequent, and adjust strategies accordingly to include them. 

Some companies are skeptical about implementing new platforms, like TikTok, into their media mix – with many asking if they can trust this channel or unsure about the audience demographics. However, it’s important to not become stagnant with what companies have been comfortable using in the past. As many hiring professionals know, TikTok gained popularity around 2019. Now, the platform has over one billion active users worldwide, with 53% of TikTok creators and users aged 18-24.

Tip: To remain competitive, companies should also look into what their competitors are doing. See how to make a company stand out, and if the competition is doing something well, consider implementing those strategies.


Updating Content on Social Platforms

When candidates are looking into opportunities, they'll look at the employer profiles (Comparably, Glassdoor, etc.) and social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Companies should audit their platforms quarterly to ensure they’re up-to-date with the most relevant and recent content. 

Sometimes companies wait to update their socials for months at a time, and if a candidate is there trying to find out information, it could leave them wondering what the company is actually like. Candidates should not have to make up assumptions. Use these platforms to paint a clear picture for a candidate of what it's like to work there, especially when they’re a passive candidate doing their own research.


Focus on Brand Awareness

Professionals in the food services industry are tapping into paid social channels. This is essential when making sure that brand awareness is out there. These channels also allow companies to showcase what it would be like for a potential candidate to work there. 

Revamping the EVP is essential, and companies are realizing it’s vital. Take the time to update the EVP to showcase what work is like, the available opportunities, benefits, culture, how working at a company can be a better fit over working at another company, etc.

Getting this information out to audiences is also helpful in recruiting passive candidates. They might not even be looking for a job, but if they find a company’s content on social media and like it, it could sway them into looking for an open role.


Audit Application Flow

Sometimes even taking a step back and looking at the application flow is helpful to see where potential roadblocks are. The application process for companies in the food services industry should be around 2-3 steps. If there’s more, there’s a chance there will be drop-off. Also, make it easier for job seekers to apply.

Consider that many of these job seekers are in the younger generations, or maybe this is their first job. Perhaps some are even new to the food services industry. It can be daunting when entering the workforce to go through multiple steps to complete an application. The application shouldn’t scare off candidates. Also, after two to three steps, candidates could get frustrated and apply somewhere else with an easier application process and a better candidate experience. 

Hiring professionals need to remember that, especially for host and waiter roles, most people are applying on their phones. So, if the applicant has to attach a resume or any other documents, the process can be extremely difficult. 

Also, mobile experiences are essential, since many will be looking up and applying for positions on their phones. Companies should audit their mobile application process, ensuring candidates can easily apply via their mobile devices. This helps avoid candidate drop-off.


Having Applications At The Ready

Consider adding QR codes into the mix to make the application process easier. If a candidate walks into a restaurant to have a meal and has a great experience, they might want to apply on the spot. Having a QR code ready in store makes it easy for candidates to be directed to a landing page or lead capture form and express their interest in a role.

Also, companies need to remember the traditional way of hiring and that candidates might walk in to inquire about a job and potentially schedule an interview. Or, the candidate may need access to the internet or phone. Ensure that each restaurant has the materials, applications, and anything the candidate needs to successfully apply to a position in the restaurant.


Job Titles and Descriptions

It’s an excellent exercise to audit the job title and descriptions every few months to ensure fresh and up-to-date content. Hiring for specific roles like hosts and waiters is competitive, especially as we enter peak hiring season. Hiring professionals should use the job descriptions to identify the specific things that separate them from the competition.

Take the time quarterly to audit these to ensure content is not dated to showcase how the company is now, not what it was in the past or pre-COVID. Use this space to paint a clear picture for candidates on what it is like to work at the company – especially using this space to highlight benefits.

It’s a great idea for companies to try to incorporate this at the beginning of the job description, showcasing high-level who the company is and the benefits of working there. Obviously, companies want to showcase what the job is and what the responsibilities are. But when candidates search for jobs, they will first want to look at pay and other benefits. Candidates are searching for what they have to gain from working at the company. Use this space to highlight any opportunities for bonuses, tuition reimbursement, PTO, growth opportunities, etc. 

Hiring professionals also need to highlight the company culture. It’s great for candidates to see what benefits they’ll get, but they’re also interested in seeing how they can fit into the organization.


If you’re interested in refining your food services recruitment strategies, contact Recruitics – we're happy to help!


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