Hiring restaurant staff is top of mind in the restaurant industry. The restaurant staff shortage has severely impacted restaurant operations, from reducing operating hours to lessening the guest experience.
Why is there a shortage of restaurant workers?
Staffing has always been ongoing in the restaurant industry because of the transient nature of restaurant jobs in general, but the current hiring crisis makes attracting employees a top priority among all restaurant businesses, from single units to national brands.
The shortage of restaurant workers 2021 is here in 2022. The pandemic prompted many employees to seek jobs elsewhere. Many restaurant workers have quit be because of low pay and long hours, while others were looking for a new career with benefits. Whatever the cause, restaurant operators are left with the effects – dealing with the restaurant staffing shortage head on – the attracting new employees to their restaurant groups.
Hiring restaurant staff
The first step in any hiring process is the job posting, so start there. Are your job postings reaching and attracting the right candidates? Are they optimized for job boards? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, follow the following tips.
Optimize your job postings for hiring restaurant staff
Just for fun, access Indeed and look up server jobs in your city. If you’re in Austin, Texas, for example, there are more than 500 jobs for servers on any given day. That means if an applicant spends two minutes reading each one of these job ads, it’s going to take 16 hours to read through all 500 postings.
Consequently, every aspect of your job posting must be optimized on a regular basis. How do you optimize a job posting? Follow these tips:
Use common job titles
If you’re looking for a highly experienced bartender, don’t use a fancy job title like “mixologist,” because bartenders are going to be searching for bartender job postings. Modern job boards are driven by algorithms, and those algorithms make connections — the connection between the applicant and the employer.
In a job board like Indeed, one of the prevailing algorithms is trying to connect the exact job title of the job seeker, with the exact job title posted by the employer because Indeed knows an applicant can’t read hundreds of postings. If you use mixologist as a title, your job description may get your posting among the bartender search results, but it won’t be among the first few pages of listings.
Avoid job titles like “pizza artist,” when you mean line cook or prep cook. While your passion may prompt you to use titles like mixologist or pizza artist, you’re limiting the number of applicants who see your job posting. Use the titles that applicants use in their job searches. Do not use hyphenated or complicated titles, e.g., busser/bar back. Ensure that you use a singular title and one that is the most common.
Use wage ranges
When hiring restaurant staff, you must include wage ranges in your job postings. Let’s say you know the pay range for a line cook at restaurant is $15 to $17 per hour, but instead you include no pay information in the job posting. Applicants need to know if the job will cover their financial needs. You’re limiting the number of applicants if you fail to include wage range.
For tipped employees, many operators state an hourly rate “plus tips.” Again, this does not give applicants context. Use the average tips that your tipped employees make and include that range in the job post. If the average tips range from $100 to $200, add that amount to the daily pay and include the total low and high range in the job posting.
Recruit with your first two paragraphs
Use your first two paragraphs to let applicants know the advantages of working for your restaurant. Answer the question, “what’s in it for them?” at the beginning of your posting.
Also catch applicants’ attention on your culture. The target you’re speaking to in job postings have an expectation to having a real culture. Their workplace environment is important to them.
It’s an employees’ market now. Write your job postings to make applicants want to work at your restaurant instead of at your competitors’ restaurants. Lead with culture.
Don’t include a job description
When hiring restaurant staff, the common practice is to include a job description. Try doing the opposite. This suggestion might raise some eyebrows, but remember, it’s an employees’ market. You want to attract applicants with your job postings. Servers know what the job entails. You don’t need to waste space describing their duties. Instead, use your words to get them in the door. The in-person interview is the place to tell applicants about your high expectations. In that context, you can deliver your expectations with passion for excellent service.
Be creative in where you post your jobs
Hiring restaurant staff requires creativity in today’s Focus on the different places that you can post jobs, where not all the other restaurants in your area are posting. That way you’ll have less competition for applicants’ attention. Of course, you still want to post on Indeed and ZipRecruiter, as well as on restaurant job boards, to reach greater numbers but think about places where your applicant audience is.
The first place is your social channels, but with this caveat. If you don’t regularly invest into your social channels, it’s not going to move the needle on applicants. However, social channels are effective in a marketing sense, both for your company and for hiring if you regularly invest into them. If you have a great identity that’s expressed through your social channels, make sure that you deliver job ads that are consistent with that identity.
University Job Boards and Food Courts
Universities are ideal hunting grounds for applicants but are among the least utilized by restaurant groups.
University job boards are almost always free, and you’re competing with fewer employers for applicants’ attention. They are very useful for procuring a particular type of employee.
For example, universities are one of the best places to get hosts because they need a flexible schedule, they’re educated and articulate.
Beyond online university job boards, the food court in universities usually has a physical job posting board. These boards can dramatically decrease your competition for these applicants, while attracting them where they already gather.
Diversity-focused Job Boards
Use job boards that focus on diversity. In Texas, for example, some of the best restaurant professionals speak Spanish well, and sometimes speak only Spanish. To reach these professionals, post to Spanish-language periodicals. Learn which periodicals are most widely read in your area, and advertise your job postings in them, ensuring you get your postings translated to Spanish.
If Spanish is a language spoken in your geographic area, consider posting to Indeed and other mainstream job boards in both English and Spanish. Again, be creative. Where you promote open positions can help you expand your audience. In addition, build relationships with local community organizations that serve groups typically underserved with job opportunities.
Don’t forget to promote job postings at your restaurant locations. Place a careers page QR code on your tables next to your menu QR code. For QSR, add a physical jobs board promoting your openings using a QR code. Some restaurants are even promoting job openings with QR codes in the restrooms. Also consider promoting your job openings by printing the QR code on your receipts. (Learn more about QR codes for hiring in Part 2 of this blog post series.)
Restaurant staffing problems can be overcome. The key to hiring the right employees for your restaurant group is casting a wide enough net so that you can filter for the best employees. Your restaurant can overcome restaurant hiring challenges with a strategic approach to your job postings.
Are you looking for a restaurant hiring solution that can help support your staffing goals? R365 HIRE makes it easy to attract, hire, and onboard the best employees for your restaurant group. Also look for the next two articles in this series, Hiring Restaurant Staff, Part 2: Develop a Hiring Process and Hiring Restaurant Staff, Part 3: Hire Using a Comprehensive Approach to Employee Retention.